2 GOP congressmen in Mississippi at risk of defeat in runoff

Jun 26, 2022, 4:46 AM | Updated: 10:12 pm
U.S. Rep. Michael Guest, R-Miss., speaks before a gathering of potential voters in Magee, Miss., Ju...

U.S. Rep. Michael Guest, R-Miss., speaks before a gathering of potential voters in Magee, Miss., June 16, 2022, as he seeks support for his runoff race against former Navy pilot Michael Cassidy in the Republican primary of Mississippi's 3rd Congressional District. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

MAGEE, Miss. (AP) — Congressional primary runoffs with incumbents are rare in Mississippi. This year, two of the state’s Republican representatives are fighting to keep their jobs in runoffs against challengers from their own party.

U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo is seeking a seventh term and was considered vulnerable after being accused in a 2021 congressional ethics report of abusing his office by misspending campaign funds.

U.S. Rep. Michael Guest is seeking a third term. He voted to create an independent commission to investigate the riot at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and was forced into a runoff amid criticism that he was disloyal to former President Donald Trump.

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

The Associated Press researched state records dating back to 1952 and found that no U.S. representative from Mississippi has been in a party primary runoff during those 70 years.

Mississippi’s other two congressmen, Democrat Bennie Thompson and Republican Trent Kelly, easily won their primaries this month.

Guest represents Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional District, which includes parts of Jackson and its suburbs, encompassing the area where Guest was 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% to 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 county where Guest fared slightly better than Cassidy in the first round of voting.

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

Cassidy accuses Guest of betraying Trump by joining Democrats and 34 other Republicans in backing the creation of a bipartisan commission on the Jan. 6 attack.

Weeks after that proposal failed in the U.S. Senate, Guest was among 190 Republicans who opposed creating the House committee that has spent months investigating the insurrection and recently started televised hearings. He and Palazzo were among the House Republicans who objected to certifying election results from some states that 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 Jan. 6 political prisoners.” During a dinner at Jose’s Restaurant & Grill in Magee, Cassidy criticized the commission Guest voted to support.

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

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

“They don’t want to talk about our 95% voting record with Donald Trump that we were co-chairs of his Mississippi reelection campaign, that we voted against impeachment twice and actually spoke on the floor in opposition to that,” Guest told a lunch crowd the next day a mile away at Zip’s Cafe.

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

Palazzo represents southeast Mississippi’s 4th Congressional District, which includes the cities of Biloxi and Hattiesburg. The district’s economy relies 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 unseating a longtime Democratic congressman in the tea party wave of 2010.

In 2021, a report by the Office of Congressional Ethics found “substantial reason to believe” Palazzo abused his office by misspending campaign funds, doing favors for his brother and enlisting 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 received 31.5% of the vote to Ezell’s 25% in a race with seven candidates.

Ezell has said Palazzo is ineffective in representing south Mississippi, and he has criticized Palazzo for proxy voting — the practice of not showing up in person to cast votes in the House but allowing another member to cast a vote in his place.

In November, the winner of the runoff between Palazzo and Ezell will face Democrat Johnny L. DuPree, a former Hattiesburg mayor 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 at https://apnews.com/hub/2022-midterm-elections and on Twitter, https://twitter.com/ap_politics

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


The motion by the Justice Department to the U.S. District Court South District of Florida to unseal...
Associated Press

The Trump home search: Push to unseal warrant used by FBI

Former President Donald Trump has called for the "immediate" release of the federal warrant the FBI used to search his Florida estate, hours after the Justice Department had asked a court to unseal the warrant, with Attorney General Merrick Garland citing the "substantial public interest in this matter."
8 hours ago
This 2014 illustration made available by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention depict...
Associated Press

Polio detected in NYC’s sewage, suggesting virus circulating

NEW YORK (AP) — The polio virus has been found in New York City’s wastewater in another sign that the disease, which hadn’t been seen in the U.S. in a decade, is quietly spreading among unvaccinated people, health officials said Friday. The presence of the poliovirus in the city’s wastewater suggests likely local circulation of […]
8 hours ago
FILE - Paraguay's Vice President Hugo Velazquez smiles during "Te Deum" at the Cathedral in Asuncio...
Associated Press

US places Paraguay vice president on corruption list

BUENOS AIRES (AP) — Paraguay Vice President Hugo Velázquez Moreno was included on a U.S. corruption list for his alleged involvement in offering bribes to a public official, U.S. Ambassador Marc Ostfield said Friday morning. The news rocked Paraguay’s political world not only due to Moreno’s role in President Mario Abdo Benítez’s administration but also […]
8 hours ago
Lebanese soldiers stand guard outside a bank where an armed man has taken hostages, in Beirut, Leba...
Associated Press

Beirut bank standoff exposes desperation of economic crisis

BEIRUT (AP) — A judge ordered a gunman who took up to 10 hostages at a Beirut bank to force the release of his trapped savings to stay behind bars Friday, apparently a bid to prevent copycats as desperation deepens over Lebanon’s economic meltdown. A few dozen relatives of Bassam al-Sheikh Hussein briefly closed a […]
8 hours ago
Volunteers help clean up dirt and debris off of the main street in downtown Fleming-Neon, Ky., on F...
Associated Press

FEMA faces criticism for response as flood death count grows

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — Gov. Andy Beshear called out the Federal Emergency Management Agency for denying too many requests for assistance in flood-ravaged eastern Kentucky, where the number of people who died as a result of the disaster has risen to 39. The official death count rose Thursday when an additional death was counted in […]
8 hours ago
FILE- In this April 15, 2018, file photo, the company logo hangs on the side of a showroom at a Hyu...
Associated Press

Kia/Hyundai seat belt pretensioners under investigation

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defects Investigation has opened a query into seat belt pretensioners on certain 2020-2022 Kia/Hyundai vehicles, saying that they may rupture or explode. A seat belt pretensioner is a part of the seat belt system that locks the seat belt in place during a crash. The ODI said […]
8 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Here are 4 signs the HVAC unit needs to be replaced

Pool renovations and kitchen upgrades may seem enticing, but at the forefront of these investments arguably should be what residents use the most. In a state where summertime is sweltering, access to a functioning HVAC unit can be critical.
Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine

Why your student-athlete’s physical should be conducted by a sports medicine specialist

Dr. Anastasi from Mayo Clinic Orthopedics and Sports Medicine in Tempe answers some of the most common questions.
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
2 GOP congressmen in Mississippi at risk of defeat in runoff