An uncommon increase in voters in a runoff helped save Guest but it sank Palazzo.
Now that the dust has settled and the Republican nominees have been chosen for Mississippi’s three Congressional Districts that held runoff elections on Tuesday, one thing is clear: voter turnout won the day for 3rd District Congressman Michael Guest while it sank 4th District Congressman Steven Palazzo.
Here is a look at the numbers:
On June 7th, the total votes cast in the Republican Primary in the 3rd District was 49,507 with challenger Michael Cassidy pulling in 48% to Congressman Guest’s 47% in the 3-man race.
Last night, Guest alone nearly drew the total number of votes from three weeks ago, raking in over 46,000, according to unofficial results. That means that Guest drove 23,000 more people to the polls on Tuesday than he did the first election when he won 23,675 votes.
Cassidy’s voter turnout by and large remained flat between the two election days. On June 7th, the newcomer pulled in 23,047 votes compared to an unofficial total of 22,479 votes in the runoff.
In all, unofficial results show 68,813 votes were cast on Tuesday in the runoff, an increase in voters of over 19,000 from June 7th that saw a total voter turnout of 49,507. In fact, results show that Guest pulled in 67% of the vote and won every county in the 3rd District except Lauderdale and the sliver of precincts in Jones County.
It is rare that a runoff draws more voters than the initial election, but that result is likely due to Guest’s campaign ratcheting up after a slow start, his fundraising both at home and from Republican leadership, and Cassidy’s questionable policy platforms that raised concerns in the minds of conservative voters once brought to light.
Guest now moves on to face Democrat Shuwaski Young in the General Election in November. The Republican is favored to win.
South Mississippi Congressman Palazzo did not enjoy the same beneficial upswing in votes as did his colleague in Central Mississippi. In truth, the uptick in votes in the 4th District hurt the incumbent.
On June 7th, Palazzo was the top vote getter in the 7-man race with 32%. Runoff winner Mike Ezell finished second with 25%. Ezell then picked up the endorsement of all five of the other candidates in the Primary race, which accounted for the remaining 43% of the initial vote.
Ezell won 13,020 votes on June 7th to Palazzo’s 16,387. Total votes cast in the 4th District Republican Primary on June 7th was 52,042.
While unofficial results show that 57,456 voted in the runoff on Tuesday, an increase of over 5,000 voters, it was not enough to help Palazzo overcome the headwinds against him in the 4th District, losing by 8% to Ezell who drew 54% of the runoff vote.
The narrative against the incumbent Palazzo as being a “no show” who was hiding from constituents and his being under a House Ethics Committee investigation regarding the use of campaign funds seemed to stick in the minds of voters more than the late attempts the Congressman’s campaign made to reframe the race in terms of what he has delivered for South Mississippi over the last 12 years.
Unofficially, Ezell pulled in 30,810 votes in the runoff, over two times more than he won on June 7th. Palazzo, however, could only muster 10,000 more votes or so, unofficially drawing 26,646 in the runoff.
Traditionally, Palazzo has been the strongest in the Pine Belt region, the area above the Coast. While he remained the leader in most areas there, the margin of victory was simply not enough to overtake Ezell who handily won the lower Coast counties. Jackson County alone, where Ezell is currently serving as Sheriff, gave him over 8,200 votes. Palazzo lost his home county of Harrison, pulling in only 45% of the vote there.
Palazzo was the longest currently serving Republican from Mississippi in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Ezell will now face Democrat nominee Johnny DuPree and Libertarian Alden Johnson in the November General Election. The Republican is favored to win.
The Other Runoff Race – 2nd District
There was another Republican runoff on Tuesday in Mississippi, that one in the 2nd Congressional District, a Democrat stronghold held by Congressman Bennie Thompson.
Republican voters there chose Brian Flowers over Ron Eller to be the GOP nominee in the November General Election by a vote of 58% to 42%.
Total voter turnout in the 2nd District runoff was down by over 4,100 votes. On June 7th, 14,104 voters pushed Flowers and Eller into a runoff in the 4-man race. Flowers won 43% to Eller’s 33% in that initial election.
In the runoff, unofficial results some only 10,023 voters returned to the polls, giving Flowers the win with 5,806 votes to Eller’s 4,217. Eller was only able to win four counties while Flowers, also the 2020 Republican nominee, ran the table in the rest.
The harsh truth for Republicans in the 2nd District is that barring some scandal of immense proportions, Democrat Congressman Thompson will once again cruise to re-election in November. That is why this race did not receive the same level of attention as the other two in the 3rd and 4th Districts; it is largely viewed as unwinnable for a Republican.