Jun 28, 2022 - Politics & Policy

County sheriff Mike Ezell ousts incumbent in Mississippi GOP primary runoff

Rep. Steven Palazzo walks up the House steps for final votes of the week in the Capitol on March 8, 2018. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

County sheriff Mike Ezell won a primary runoff on Tuesday to unseat six-term incumbent Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.).

Driving the news: Palazzo, who was running for his seventh term to represent Mississippi's 4th Congressional District, was accused in a congressional ethics report last year of misusing campaign funds.

  • Ezell touted his record "tackling corruption and government wrongdoing" as a sheriff, writing in a tweet directed at the incumbent: "that’s something you wouldn’t happen to know about, would you?"
  • Ezell won 25% of the vote in a seven-way primary earlier this month, while Palazzo won 32% of the vote, forcing the candidates into a runoff since neither of the candidates reached the 50% threshold to win.

The big picture: Ezell's victory is something of an upset, as Palazzo led significantly in fundraising totals. Palazzo has reported $337,000 in contributions since the primary, compared with Ezell's $171,000, Roll Call reports.

  • Ezell's victory is the latest example of a Republican House lawmakers seeking re-election and struggling to secure their party's nomination , Axios' Andrew Solender reports.
  • 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, Solender notes.

Go deeper... Two more incumbent House Republicans forced into primary runoffs

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