Wednesday, August 17, 2022

In Mississippi, 2 GOP congressmen at risk of losing runoff

Maggie, Miss. ( Associated Press) — Congressional primary runoffs are rare in Mississippi. This year, two Republican representatives from the state are fighting to keep their jobs against challengers from their own party.

US Representative Steven Palazzo is seeking a seventh term and was deemed vulnerable after he was accused of misusing campaign funds to abuse his office in a 2021 congressional ethics report.

US Representative Michael Guest is seeking a third term. He voted to create an independent commission to investigate the riots at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, and was forced into a runoff amid criticism of being disloyal to former President Donald Trump.

Both Palazzo and Guest failed to cross the 50% mark in their June 7 primaries. On Tuesday, Palazzo will go up against Sheriff Mike Eizell of a coastal county, while Guest will face former Navy fighter pilot Michael Cassidy.

The Associated Press researched state records dating back to 1952 and found that no US representative from Mississippi had been in the party’s primary runoff during those 70 years.

The other two Congressmen from Mississippi, Democrat Benny Thompson and Republican Trent Kelly, easily won their primaries this month.

Guest represents the Third Congressional District of Mississippi, which includes parts of Jackson and its suburbs, which includes the area where Guest was district attorney before being elected to Congress. The district also has small towns, poultry processing plants and military establishments, with a Cassidy still training pilots.

In a race with three candidates, Guest received 47.5% to Cassidy’s 47% on June 7. Guest and Cassidy campaigned separately last week in the small town of Maggie, a county where Guest performed slightly better than Cassidy in the first round of voting.

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Guest calls his challenger a “carpetbagger” because Cassidy moved from the East Coast to Mississippi and only registered to vote here in 2021. Cassidy acknowledged the timing of his registration, stating that he remained a voter in one state while others were being relocated.

Cassidy joined Democrats and 34 other Republicans in supporting the creation of a bipartisan commission on the January 6 attack accused of betraying Trump.

Weeks after that motion failed in the US Senate, Guest was among 190 Republicans who opposed the creation of a House committee, which spent months investigating the rebellion and recently launched televised hearings. He and Palazzo were among House Republicans who objected to certifying election results in some states that went for Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential race.

Cassidy said in campaign speeches that Guest had done nothing to stop the “harassment of January 6 political prisoners”. During dinner at Joe’s Restaurant and Grill in Maggie’s, Cassidy criticized the commission. Guests voted to support.

“It said … in the bill that everyone who was there that day was a domestic terrorist,” Cassidy said.

Guest rejects any notion that he has been loyal to Trump.

“They don’t want to talk with Donald Trump about our 95% voting record that we were his Mississippi election campaign co-chair, that we twice voted against impeachment and actually spoke on the floor against it. ,” said the guest. Lunch rush the next day at Zip’s Cafe a mile away.

The winner of the runoff between Guest and Cassidy will face Shuwaski Young in November. Young worked at the US Department of Homeland Security during the presidency of Barack Obama.

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The Palazzo represents the Fourth Congressional District of southeast Mississippi, which includes the cities of Biloxi and Hattiesburg. The economy of the district depends heavily on the military and shipbuilding.

Palazzo served in the Marine Corps and the Mississippi Army National Guard. He was in the state legislature before the longtime Democratic congressman was ousted in the 2010 Tea Party wave.

In 2021, a report by the Congressional Office of Ethics found “sufficient reason to believe” Palazzo misappropriated campaign funds, doing favors for his brother, and enlisting staff for political and personal work. by misusing his office. His then-spokesperson, Colleen Kennedy, said the investigation was based on “false allegations” that were politically motivated.

In the primary, Palazzo received 31.5% of Aizel’s 25% of the vote in a race with seven candidates.

Aizell has stated that the Palazzo is ineffective in representing South Mississippi, and has criticized the Palazzo for proxy voting – the practice of not appearing in person to cast a vote in the House but allowing another member to cast the vote in his place. allows.

In November, the winner of the runoff between Palazzo and Aizel faced Democrat Johnny L. Dupree, a former Hattiesburg mayor who was the 2011 Democratic nominee for governor, and Libertarian Alden Patrick Johnson.

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Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter at http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus

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For full midterm coverage follow the Associated Press at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and on Twitter, https://twitter.com/ap_politics

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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