TUPELO • Josh Randle, the former president of the Miss America Organization, is exploring the idea of running as a Republican against incumbent U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith because he believes the state “deserves better” than how Hyde-Smith is currently representing the state.
Randle, whose interest in the race was first reported by Mississippi Today, sat down with the Daily Journal last week where he said he is interested in possibly running for the U.S. Senate because he believes the state needs someone who can offer fresh ideas to advance the state.
“Right now, we are almost at $23 trillion in national debt,” Randle, a native of Amory, said. “We’re spending more to service that debt than we are in total spending in one year to fund our entire military defense. That’s mind blowing. We’ve got a major problem. I think that the national debt is the single greatest threat to our democracy as it stands right now.”
Randle, who currently owns a consulting firm in Oxford, said he would solve the national debt by cutting wasteful spending in government and reducing the size of government. When asked what area of the federal government he would try to reduce spending, he didn’t offer a specific area or a specific department, but said all federal agencies and departments were “on the table” to possibly have their budgets reduced.
“I was raised in Amory, Mississippi, where the fastest way to make a buck is to save a buck,” Randle said. “We’ve got incredible fraudulent spending in the government, whether it’s Social Security fraud or Medicaid or Medicare fraud.”
Other than the national debt, Randle did not offer any concrete solutions or policy goals he would try and accomplish if elected to the U.S Senate, and reiterated that he thought Hyde-Smith was not doing an adequate job to address issues related to the state.
When asked what his views were on healthcare issues or what reforms he thought should be made to the nation’s healthcare, Randle did not offer a concrete answer other than to say the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, was handled poorly and that “Medicare for All” would not be an ideal policy for Mississippians.
“Medicare for all would be a total disaster,” he said. “There’s no way to pay for it. Even the Democrats agree, it’s a pipe dream. We’ve got to come up with workable solutions, but with the incumbent, we’re not even getting any solutions. There’s no answers there.”
Randle also did not take a solid position on the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, but did say it revealed how polarized the nation is.
“I’m not an attorney, and I think at the end of the day was a law broken?” he asked. “I think we have to back up and look at how polarized the country is. We need common sense leaders whether it’s impeachment, whether it’s immigration, whatever the issues are.”
Randle said it was important to remember that he was only in the exploratory phase before he offered more concrete ideas and said overall, he’s running because he thinks he can project a positive image onto the state and “do the right thing” on behalf of Mississippians.
While Randle was president of the Miss America Foundation, a series of emails leaked from their CEO, Sam Haskell, that revealed Randle in an email referred to one contestant as a “healthy one,” referring to the candidate’s weight.
According to a statement sent to Mississippi Today, Randle said his comments about the contestant’s weight was a “lapse of judgement.”
“It does not reflect my values as I have proven throughout my life,” Randle said. “And while my involvement was limited to a single reply when I was not yet an employee of Miss America, I apologized to the person who was the subject of that email. We all make mistakes, and our ability to learn and grow from our experiences is what ultimately defines us.”
Randle resigned from the organization in 2017.
When asked by the Daily Journal if he thought his comments cast a positive image onto the state, he declined to comment further and referred to his previous statement.
Justin Brassel, a spokesman for the Hyde-Smith campaign, told the Daily Journal in a statement that Hyde-Smith is doing a “terrific job” in the state and is popular with Republican voters.
“She is well organized across the state having just won a competitive special election in 2018,” Brassel said. “This race will be a very steep hill to climb for anyone who decides to run. Cindy is working hard to earn the continued support of voters across Mississippi, and we will be ready for any challenge."
Randle said he did not have a timeline on when he would make a final decision on whether he’s entering into the race. Randle has not filed any campaign finance forms with the Federal Election Commission. The primary election for the Senate race would be in March.