2 Mississippi congressmen heading to GOP primary runoffs
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Two incumbent congressmen in Mississippi won party primaries Tuesday, and two are headed to June 28 runoffs.
Republican Rep. Trent Kelly will face Democrat Dianne Black in the Nov. 8 general election in north Mississippi’s 1st Congressional District.
Kelly defeated Mark D. Strauss in the GOP primary. Kelly won a 2015 special election to Congress after serving as district attorney for several counties in north Mississippi. He was endorsed in Tuesday’s primary by former President Donald Trump. Strauss has a picket fence near his home painted with slogans including “Trump Won” and “COVID tests are poison.”
Black, a business owner, defeated another first-time candidate, Hunter Avery. Black says she wants to expand access to health care and fight climate change.
Mississippi’s lone Democrat in Washington, Rep. Bennie Thompson, defeated one primary opponent. Jerry Kerner ran a low-budget campaign and called Thompson “a gullible follower of the anti-American House leadership.”
The Republican primary will go to a runoff between two military veterans, Brian Flowers and Ronald Eller.
Thompson is chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee and co-chairman of a committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol. Thompson has been in Congress since winning a 1993 special election. The 2nd District now encompasses most of western Mississippi and much of the metro Jackson area.
Flowers lost to Thompson in 2020 and now says Thompson “is trying to intimidate American patriots” by investigating the activities of Jan. 6, 2021. Eller campaigned on free enterprise and limited government.
The other 2nd District Republican primary candidates were Michael Carson, a diesel mechanic who cited former President Ronald Reagan as a role model, and Stanford Johnson, a truck driver who advocated congressional term limits.
Two-term Rep. Michael Guest and Former Navy pilot Michael Cassidy are headed to a Republican primary runoff in central Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional District.
Shuwaski A. Young was unopposed for the Democratic nomination. He will be on the general election ballot.
Guest was first elected to Congress in 2018 after serving as a district attorney in Rankin and Madison counties. He has campaigned on supporting border security and gun rights
Cassidy criticizes Guest for being in the minority of Republicans who voted to create an outside commission to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol — a group that would have been separate from the congressional committee now conducting the investigation.
Also in the 3rd District Republican primary was Thomas B. Griffin, a business owner who said he wanted to put Christian values into schools.
Republican Rep. Steven Palazzo will face Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell in a runoff.
The Republican nominee will advance to the general election ballot to face Democrat Johnny L. DuPree and a Libertarian candidate, Alden Patrick Young.
Palazzo is a military veteran who was first elected to Congress when he defeated a Democratic incumbent in 2010. This year, he faced his largest-ever field of challengers, with six other candidates in the GOP primary.
A 2021 report by the office of Congressional Ethics found “substantial reason to believe” Palazzo had abused his office by misspending campaign funds, doing favors for his brother, and enlisting staff for political and personal errands. Palazzo declined to fully participate in the investigation, but his spokeswoman at the time, Colleen Kennedy, said the it was based on “false allegations” made by an opponent in a previous primary.
“It’s an honor to serve south Mississippi, and it’s something I do not take for granted,” Palazzo said in a statement late Tuesday. “I’m grateful for our supporters and volunteers who worked hard in this election and who will work hard to help us over the next three weeks. We now turn our attention to the run-off, and we will not be out-worked.”
Ezell said in a statement that Tuesday’s results show most voters in the district want change.
“The issues are serious, the stakes are high and we now have a clear choice about who can best represent South Mississippi in Congress,” Ezell said Wednesday. “Now more than ever, we need someone with firsthand law enforcement experience in Congress. In this runoff election, there’s a big difference between the candidates in terms of record, experience and work ethic.”
Also challenging Palazzo for the Republican nomination were Carl Boyanton, a former produce business owner who lost to Palazzo in the 2020 GOP primary and filed the complaint that prompted the ethics investigation of the congressman; Raymond N. Brooks, who has been a Gulfport police officer and said he wants to strengthen border security; Kidron Peterson, a machinist who said he wants to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.; Clay Wagner, a retired banker who said he wants to limit taxation and regulation; and state Sen. Brice Wiggins, who campaigned on border security and has worked to expand access to early childhood education programs.
In the Democratic primary, DuPree defeated David Sellers. DuPree is a former Hattiesburg mayor and was the Democratic nominee for governor in 2011. Sellers is a minister who advocated increasing the minimum wage and ending mass incarceration.