TUPELO • Despite a past practice of sticking to local issues, Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton has plunged into a contentious presidential nominating contest by endorsing Michael Bloomberg’s presidential bid.

Shelton told the Daily Journal that he he believes the former mayor of New York City has the best chance of defeating President Donald Trump in November.

“The crux of my endorsement is based upon electability in November,” Shelton told the Daily Journal.

Shelton admitted that in a state dominated by conservative politics, Mississippi likely will not have much influence in the general election, but he does believe the state could play an influential role in the Democratic Party’s presidential nominating process.

Shelton’s endorsement comes after Bloomberg, on Wednesday, participated in his first Democratic presidential debate. He drew criticism from many of the other candidates for implementing stop-and-frisk policing, a policy that Bloomberg’s mayoral administration used to question or detain citizens suspected of carrying illegal contraband.

Evidence has shown that the policing tactic was used disproportionately against minority citizens across New York City and often led to racial profiling. Bloomberg has since apologized for the policy and said he regrets implementing it.

Several Democratic candidates also criticized Bloomberg’s history of alleged sexual discrimination in the workplace and his use of non-disclosure agreements that would prohibit women from speaking out about experiences with Bloomberg.

Shelton admitted that Bloomberg has “some blemishes” on his record, and said he’s not here to “sugarcoat anything in (Bloomberg’s) background.”

The Tupelo mayor said his Bloomberg endorsement is simply an acknowledgement of what he thinks is the best path forward for the Democratic Party.

“At the end of the day, this is something Republicans fundamentally understand that Democrats haven’t always understood – you can’t do anything if you’re not successful in the campaign,” Shelton said.

Being a Democratic mayor of a relatively conservative town, Shelton said he thinks critics could use this endorsement to hurt him politically. Even so, Shelton said he values his integrity more than re-election chances.

“I’m not a person who’s going to go whichever way the wind blows,” he said. “My beliefs are strong, and I can’t let electability interfere with taking a stand when it’s important.”

Shelton and his wife are expecting their first child, and Shelton said he wants to know that he can tell his child one day that he took a stand against Trump’s performance in his office, including his “Twitter rants” and use of taxpayer dollars to spend time golfing.

“It’s shocking to me that more people don’t take a stand at what’s clearly inappropriate conduct at the highest level,” Shelton said of Trump. “I can’t worry about getting re-elected when something this important is happening.”

taylor.vance@journalinc.com

Twitter: @taylor_vance28

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