Jun 8, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Two more incumbent House Republicans forced into primary runoffs

Rep. Michael Guest (R-Miss.)
Rep. Michael Guest (R-Miss.). Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images.

Two House Republicans from Mississippi were forced into primary runoffs on Tuesday after failing to reach the 50% threshold to win outright, according to the Associated Press.

Why it matters: It's rare for a House member to struggle to win their party's nomination, but this year has proved an unprecedented minefield for Republican lawmakers seeking re-election.

  • Two Republican incumbents have already lost primaries this cycle: Reps. Madison Cawthorn (R-N.C.), who had myriad scandals, and Rep. David McKinley (R-W.Va.), who was seen as disloyal to former President Trump.
  • Others could be on the chopping block, most notably Republicans who voted for Trump's impeachment like Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.) and Tom Rice (R-S.C.).

Driving the news: Reps. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.) and Michael Guest (R-Miss.) were both kept under 50% by primary challengers.

  • Guest, who voted for a bipartisan commission to investigate Jan. 6, will face off against test pilot Michael Cassidy, who has called to end birthright citizenship and said Guest's commission vote makes him "not a conservative."
  • Palazzo's is a more classic case: After coming under investigation for alleged misuse of campaign funds, he won just 32% of the vote in a seven-way race and will face county sheriff Mike Ezell in a runoff.
  • Both results are something of an upset: Palazzo and Guest outraised their respective foes roughly 2-to-1.

State of play: Guest is far from the only Republican to face political repercussions after voting for the commission.

  • McKinley lost to Trump-endorsed fellow Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.) after voting for the commission and a bipartisan infrastructure bill Trump blasted.
  • Rep. Van Taylor (R-Texas) was forced into a runoff over his vote, but then dropped his re-election bid after admitting to an extramarital affair.
  • Several others have resigned or announced plans to retire.

Between the lines: Of the three House Republicans in Mississippi's congressional delegation, former President Trump only endorsed Rep. Trent Kelly's (R-Miss.) re-election bid.

Editor's note: This article has been corrected to note that Palazzo ran in a primary with seven candidates, not three.

Go deeper