MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST — Steven Palazzo has won the Republican nomination in Mississippi’s 4th Congressional District.
Palazzo, a 44-year-old two-term incumbent from Biloxi, defeated four challengers in the primary, including Gene Taylor, a Democrat-turned-Republican who served 22 year in Congress before Palazzo beat him in 2010.
Palazzo won just more than 50 percent in the primary, questioning the sincerity of the 60-year-old Taylor’s conversion to the GOP and pledging to continue opposition to policies of President Barack Obama.
Taylor delayed conceding because of reports of voting problems in Harrison County, but few ballots were involved Wednesday when officials examined them.
Palazzo will face Democratic nominee Matt Moore of Biloxi in the Nov. 4 general election, as well as independents Cindy Burleson and Ed Reich, Libertarian Joey Robinson and Reform Party member Eli “Sarge” Jackson.
Meanwhile, Congressmen Bennie Thompson and Gregg Harper cruised to victory in primaries in their districts.
In the 4th District Republican race, three other candidates trailed Palazzo and Taylor. Tom Carter, a 48-year-old defense contractor from Carriere, ran a distant third. Farther behind were 73-year-old Ron Vincent of Hattiesburg, who lost the 2012 Republican primary to Palazzo; and 24-year-old Tavish Kelly of Picayune.
While Taylor easily won Palazzo’s home county of Harrison and his own home in Hancock County, Palazzo won by wide margins in most inland counties. Taylor said he thought Palazzo’s financial advantage — he raised $678,000 to Taylor’s $251,000 — showed in those regions.
“Some of the places that we thought we had turned around from four years ago, apparently we didn’t,” Taylor said.
Taylor hammered Palazzo over his 2012 vote to approve flood insurance changes, under which the Federal Emergency Management Agency proposed rate increases. Palazzo counted his March vote to water down changes as his top achievement in the last two years.
In the 4th District’s Democratic primary, Matt Moore of Biloxi, the 2012 Democratic nominee, beat Trish Causey of Ocean Springs. Moore and the Republican winner will face independent candidates Cindy Burleson and Ed Reich, Libertarian Joey Robinson and Reform Party member Eli “Sarge” Jackson in the Nov. 4 general election.
In the 3rd District, which crosses all or parts of 24 counties stretching from Starkville southwest to Natchez, Harper defeated 68-year-old Quitman resident Hardy Caraway in the Republican primary. On the Democratic side, teacher Jim Liljeberg of Bay Springs was eliminated from the race against Douglas MacArthur “Doug” Magee, a Mendenhall lawyer, and Dennis Quinn, a Magnolia resident. Independent Roger Gerrard and Reform Party candidate Barbara Dale Washer will meet Harper and the Democratic nominee in the general election.
Longtime incumbent Thompson defeated Damien Fairconetue of Clinton in the Democratic primary in the 2nd District, which includes the Mississippi Delta, parts of Jackson and southwest Mississippi. Thompson will face independent Troy Ray and the Reform Party’s Shelley Shoemake on Nov. 4.
Two-term Republican incumbent Alan Nunnelee faced no primary challenge in north Mississippi’s 1st Congressional District. He will face Ron Dickey of Horn Lake, Libertarian Danny Bedwell of Columbus and the Reform Party’s Lajena Walley in the general election.