Former Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy formally announced his endorsement for Southern Miss student and candidate for state representative of district 102 Brandon Rue on Friday, Feb 22 at the Shrimp Basket in Hattiesburg.
This conference was Espy’s first return to Hattiesburg and Forrest County since the city races.
“As soon as I met him, I knew that he had it. You know what it is. It’s that mark of leadership,” Espy said.
Rue is a junior communications studies major who announced his campaign on Jan 31. Last Nov., Rue helped register over 1,000 voters at the University of Southern Miss and led a march to the polls on election day.
Espy said, “He reminds me a little bit of me even though I’m way older now, but I started when I was 29 when I ran for congressional district and won.”
Espy went on to mention that even when he was told he was too young to be in office. Rue is running at the age of 20.
“If you believe in elevating Mississippi, lifting the fortunes of our state, making sure we have folks graduating and not dropping out and making sure we can eliminate student debt, those are all the right issues, so no matter how old you are, if you have the right purpose it is the right time,” Espy said to Rue.
While Espy endorsed Rue, he mentioned his relationship with the candidate.
“I’m not just doing this because I know him, and he is young. But I know him, and he is capable,” Espy said.
Espy said he appreciated Rue’s efforts to lead students to polling places during the Senate election in the fall.
“He did not do that for me. He did that for the future,” Espy said.
“It is truly an honor to have Secretary Espy down here today to officially endorse me,” Rue said. “It means so much for me to know that he believes in me. It gives me hope for the future and hope for this race.”
Rue has faced scrutiny since announcing his campaign due to his age. “People tell me not to do this, but then I hear Secretary Espy say that if I don’t run, I won’t win,” said Rue.
Rue also used the conference to explain the basis of his campaign, which includes building economic opportunity for small businesses and increasing the minimum wage, improving education and mental health services.
Sophomore nursing major Raymond Powell came to support Rue.
“I hope that Brandon does really well, Powell said. “I believe he is going to run a great race because he has studied and done his work to prepare for this moment.”