Crawdaddy

GOP challenge to Palazzo fades away in Mississippi's 4th Congressional District

Paul Hampton

jphampton@sunherald.com

AMANDA McCOY/SUN HERALD/2011Congressman Steven Palazzo greets constituents and supporters at the door of his new district office in downtown Gulfport on Monday, February 7. On Thursday, Palazzo said he disagreed with the government's decision to allow female soldiers in combat roles, calling it dangerous.
AMANDA McCOY/SUN HERALD/2011Congressman Steven Palazzo greets constituents and supporters at the door of his new district office in downtown Gulfport on Monday, February 7. On Thursday, Palazzo said he disagreed with the government's decision to allow female soldiers in combat roles, calling it dangerous. SUN HERALD

Rep. Steven Palazzo's only announced Republican challenger dropped out of the race at the qualifying deadline because his fundraising was lagging.

Biloxi councilman Robert Demming explained his decision on Facebook:

"After long deliberation and much consideration, I feel like this is not the right time to pursue this challenge," he wrote. "While the climate was very favorable to challenge Palazzo, I do not believe my fundraising was where it needed to be with such a short period of time until the primary."

He said he did manage to move Palazzo further to the right. After Palazzo voted for the omnibus spending bill, Demming sent out a scalding email criticizing the congressman for voting to fund Planned Parenthood.

Palazzo this week said he was introducing a resolution to try to censure President Barack Obama over his executive orders, the most recent one this week that would tighten rules on gun sales, particularly at gun shows.

Another potential challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who virtually owns the Piney Woods part of the district that has been essential to Palazzo's success, also said via social media it was more important to get Sen. Ted Cruz elected president than challenge Palazzo.

"As to the 2016 primary challenge against Steven Palazzo, thank you for believing in me," McDaniel wrote in a post that appeared on the Mississippi Conservative Daily website. "I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your support.

"However, I already have previous commitments to Senator Ted Cruz’s presidential campaign as his state chairman, the Mississippi Senate and various other projects I cannot yet report. With a young family, successful law practice and an incredibly stressful and busy political career, my primary focus must remain on what is best for the overall conservative movement and the people of Mississippi. At this time, the conservative movement is better served if I do not mount a challenge for U.S. Congress."

Read the rest of McDaniel's Open Letter here.

That means Palazzo will be the Republican nominee and will face Democrat Mark Dey Gladney of Gulfport, an operations manager for Petroleum Helicopters of Morgan City, La., in the fall.

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