Mississipi civil rights advocate Charles Evers has announced that he will run for governor of Mississippi as an independent so voters could elect a black "who cares about all people." But an NAACP leader said the move could help put a Republican in office.
Evers, 60, will be making his third statewide race, his second for governor, after serving three terms as the first black mayor of Fayette, a biracial Mississippi town. He predicted that he would be supported by at least 80 percent of black voters and 3 percent to 5 percent of the white vote for a winning margin in a three-candidate general election race against former lieutenant governor Evelyn Gandy, the Democrat, and Republican Leon Bramlett.
He denied rumors that Republicans were putting him in the race to draw votes from the Democratic nominee and help the GOP nominee. His presence in the 1978 U.S. Senate race is cited as having siphoned away enough votes from Democratic nominee Maurice Dantin to elect Republican Thad Cochran.
"I'm trying to help my people," he said.
Evers took over as state field secretary of the NAACP after his brother, Medgar, who then held the position, was assassinated in 1963. He was one of the leaders of the civil rights-oriented Loyalist faction of state Democrats that wrested national party recognition from old-line Democrats in 1968. He served as Democratic national committeeman from Mississippi, but supported President Nixon for reelection in 1972 and Reagan for president in 1980.