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Mississippi GOP Rep. Steven Palazzo fails to avoid primary runoff

Republican Rep. Steven Palazzo failed to garner enough votes to block all six opponents in Mississippi’s 4th congressional district primary on Tuesday, sending the election to a runoff later this month.

Palazzo, who has served in the House of Representatives since 2011, leads with 32% of the vote. His second-round challenger has yet to be determined as Mike Ezell had garnered 24% of the vote, just one percentage point ahead of Clay Wagner with 94% of the reports from the precinct on Tuesday night.

Palazzo will face its second-place challenger in the second round on June 28 after not all candidates received 50% of the vote.

Palazzo’s field of challengers also included businessman Carl Boyanton and State Senator Brice Wiggins. Contestants Raymond Brooks and Kidron Peterson also threw their hats into the ring.

Palazzo campaigned to retain his seat amid allegations that he abused his office by spending campaign funds, doing favors for his brother and enlisting staff for political and personal errands.

The charges stem from a 2021 report by the Congressional Ethics Office which said it found “substantial reasons to believe” the congressman abused his office.

State Sen. Brice Wiggins was in the running for Rep. Steven Palazzo’s seat.
Rogelio V. Solis/AP
Mississippi GOP Rep. Steven Palazzo fails to avoid primary runoff
Businessman Carl Boyanton has joined the large group of Republican hopefuls.
Rogelio V. Solis/AP

The watchdog recommended the House Ethics Committee investigate the allegations further, saying Palazzo “may have violated House rules, standards of conduct and federal law.”

At the time, then-spokeswoman Colleen Kennedy said the report was based on politically motivated “false allegations”, according to The Associated Press.

The incumbent lawmaker has also come under increasing criticism over his lack of presence in both Congress and candidate forums during the campaign trail.

While Palazzo signed a lawsuit in 2020 challenging House proxy voting, he submitted at least seven letters to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi advising her that he would not be present to vote.

In early May, the conservative public policy organization Ripon Society found that Palazzo had voted by proxy at least 66 times.

With AP wires

New York Post

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