MAGEE, Miss. (AP) – Congressional primaries with incumbent officials are rare in Mississippi. This year, two of the state’s Republican representatives will battle to keep their jobs in the second round against challengers from their own party.
US Rep. Steven Palazzo aims for a seventh term and was considered vulnerable after being charged in a 2021 Congressional Ethics Report of his office by misusing campaign funds.
US Rep. Michael Guest is seeking a third term. He voted to create an independent commission to investigate the US Capitol riot on January 6, 2021, and was forced into a runoff amid criticisms of his disloyalty to former President Donald Trump.
Both Palazzo and Guest failed to cross the 50% threshold to win outright in their June 7 primary. On Tuesday, Palazzo takes on Mike Ezell, the sheriff of a coastal county, while Guest takes on Michael Cassidy, a former Navy fighter pilot.
The Associated Press investigated state records dating back to 1952 and found that no U.S. Representative from Mississippi has been in a primary party in those 70 years.
Mississippi’s other two congressmen, Democrat Bennie Thompson and Republican Trent Kelly, easily won their primary this month.
Guest represents Mississippi’s 3rd congressional district, which includes parts of Jackson and its suburbs, and includes the area where Guest served as a district attorney before being elected to Congress. The district also has small towns, poultry processing plants, and military installations, including one where Cassidy still trains pilots.
Guest received 47.5% on Cassidy’s 47% on June 7 in a race with three candidates† Guest and Cassidy campaigned separately last week in the small town of Magee, in a province where Guest outperformed Cassidy on the first ballot.
Guest calls his challenger a “carpet bagger” because Cassidy moved from the East Coast to Mississippi and didn’t register to vote here until 2021. Cassidy acknowledges the timing of his registration and says he remained a voter in one state while being transferred to another.
Cassidy accuses Guest of betraying Trump by joining Democrats and 34 other Republicans in establishing a bipartisan commission for the January 6 attack.
Weeks after that bill failed in the US Senate, Guest was one of the… 190 Republicans who opposed the establishment of the House committee that has spent months investigating the insurgency and has recently begun televised hearings. He and Palazzo were among the House Republicans who objected to certifying the election results of some states who went for Democrat Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential race.
Cassidy says in campaign speeches that Guest has done nothing to “stop the persecution of January 6 political prisoners.” Over dinner at Jose’s Restaurant & Grill in Magee, Cassidy criticized the committee Guest had supported.
“It said… in the bill that everyone who was there that day was a domestic terrorist,” Cassidy said.
Guest rejects any idea that he has been unfaithful to Trump.
“They don’t want to talk about our 95% voting record with Donald Trump that we co-chaired his re-election campaign in Mississippi, that we voted against impeachment twice and actually spoke out against it,” Guest told a luncheon crowd. next day a mile away at Zip’s Cafe.
The winner of the second round between Guest and Cassidy will face Shuwaski Young in November. Young worked at the United States Department of Homeland Security during Barack Obama’s presidency.
Palazzo represents the 4th congressional district in southeastern Mississippi, which includes the cities of Biloxi and Hattiesburg. The district’s economy is heavily dependent on the military and shipbuilding industry.
Palazzo served in the Marine Corps and National Guard of the Army of the Mississippi. He sat in the state legislature before dethroning a longtime Democratic congressman in the 2010 tea party wave.
In 2021, a report from the Office of Congressional Ethics found “substantial reason to believe” that Palazzo was abusing his office by misspending campaign funds, favoring his brother and hiring staff for political and personal errands. His then spokesperson, Colleen Kennedy, said the investigation was based on politically motivated “false allegations”.
In the primary, Palazzo got 31.5% of the vote against Ezell’s 25% in a race with seven candidates.
Ezell has said Palazzo is ineffective at representing Southern Mississippi, and he has criticized Palazzo for proxy voting — the practice of not showing up in person to cast votes in the House, but admitting another member. stand to vote in his place.
In November, the winner of the second round between Palazzo and Ezell will face Democrat Johnny L. DuPree, a former mayor of Hattiesburg who was the 2011 Democratic nominee for governor, and libertarian Alden Patrick Johnson.
Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter at http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus
Follow AP for full coverage of the midterms on https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-selections and on Twitter, https://twitter.com/ap_politics