U.S. Senate candidate David Baria spent time in Oxford on Friday morning to appear on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” as it aired live from Boure.
Later in the day, Baria sat down with The Daily Mississippian to talk about what he plans to do for college students, if he is elected.
Baria, a native of Hancock County, has been a Democratic member of the Mississippi State legislature for nearly 11 years and has been the Mississippi House Minority Leader for two years. He’s running against incumbent Republican U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker.
Baria said he wants to see the state become more welcoming to college students and encourage millennials to become more engaged in elections.
“College-aged kids are one of the major reasons why I’m running,” Baria said. “I have two daughters in college … I want Mississippi to be the kind of place where they want to live. Right now we’re not providing the right type of environment for young people. I see millennials being more engaged this go-round. I think that millennials have to be engaged. They have to understand that elections are important.”
He said one of the ways the state can improve its image is by removing the state flag and creating a new one that is more inclusive of all Mississippians.
“I’m an advocate of changing our state flag right away,” Baria said. “That’s something that can be done relatively easily. I know it would be painful; I know it would be contentious. But it’s relatively easy to do. It doesn’t cost anything to do it, and imagine what that would say to the world — that the state that was once called the most hateful place in America had decided to turn the corner.”
He also said the country has to start changing the way it views drug and alcohol offenses on college campuses by focusing more on rehabilitation and mental illness and not simply treating people who use drugs like criminals.
“We have people sitting in county jails who, really, their only problem is that they’re not treating their mental and emotional problems that cause them to become drug users and abusers … then (they) commit crimes to support their drug habit,” Baria said. “So you can break that cycle if you decide that you want to.”
Baria said the state needs two senators and four representatives who would serve as a check and stand up to President Donald Trump, but that he would still work with Trump when he presents good ideas that would benefit Mississippians.
“Donald Trump campaigned on … fixing our nation’s crumbling infrastructure,” Baria said. “If he really wants to do something about that, he will find a willing partner in David Baria. And if there are other issues like that — that help Mississippi — then, absolutely, I’m going to work across the aisle to get that done.”
The election, in which Mississippians will have the opportunity to vote to fill both of the state’s U.S. Senate seats, will take place on Nov. 6.