Though the primaries, for the most part, were not marked with a tremendous amount of political intrigue, these runoffs seem to be making up for it.
With two Congressional Republican incumbents fighting for survival in a June 28 runoff in Mississippi, money has started to pour into those races with the vast majority of it in favor of incumbents Congressman Michael Guest of the 3rd District and Congressman Steven Palazzo of the 4th District.
Their respective challengers, newcomer Michael Cassidy and Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell, are having a bit more difficulty keeping pace in the less than three-week sprint between the Primary and the runoff.
The biggest spend in the Mississippi Republican Primary runoff so far has come from the Congressional Leadership Fund, a Super PAC, that is spending over $350,000 in opposition to Congressman Guest’s opponent Michael Cassidy. That TV buy has carpeted the airwaves in the 3rd District as of late.
Another Super PAC, Mississippi Victory PAC, has dropped $65,000+ in direct mail and radio ads so far targeted against Cassidy. Mississippi Today’s Bobby Harrison in an earlier piece errantly attributed the Mississippi Victory PAC as belonging to Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, but it is in fact an independent Super PAC.
Michael Guest has raised over $288,000 in terms of new money that has come in since the Primary. Additionally, on June 8, his pre-primary report already had $293K cash on hand. A substantial number of political action committees have donated in the runoff as well as notable contributors such as former Governor Haley Barbour.
Cassidy’s campaign has only raised about $23,000 according to FEC reports filed since the Primary. On June 8, he showed $80,000 cash on hand but notably had nearly $230,000 in campaign debt. The opposition spend combined with the Guest fundraising means Cassidy is being outspent over 20:1 at this point in terms of new money flowing into the 3rd District runoff race.
The 4th District is not nearly as lopsided. There does not appear, at this point, to be quite the outside spend as seen in the 3rd District. However, that could change at any moment, and it wouldn’t be a surprise at all if some outside money came into the race in this last week.
Palazzo had about $160,000 cash on hand as of June 8, and since then he has gathered roughly $135,000 in contributions. However, on Friday, he was endorsed by House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, the second highest positioned Republican in the U.S. House. This could equate into additional outside dollars down the stretch.
For his part, Palazzo’s challenger Sheriff Ezell had about $42,000 in cash on hand as of the Primary with a $45,000 loan to him personally. Since June 7th, some $81,000 in campaign funds have come in as of June 18th.
Though the primaries, for the most part, were not marked with a tremendous amount of political intrigue, these runoffs seem to be making up for it. This will be an action-packed week and Y’all Politics will continue to track the money flowing into and around these candidates for what is, at this point, a very unusual Primary cycle.