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WASHINGTON (AP) — Mississippi Republican Rep. Michael Guest, who defied former President Donald Trump by voting to create an independent commission to investigate last year’s deadly insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, won his primary runoff on Tuesday – even as his colleague from the same state and party was struggling to follow suit.
Both Guest and Palazzo failed to cross the 50 percent threshold to win outright in their June 7 primaries. Guest topped former Navy fighter pilot Michael Cassidy, while Palazzo is going up against Mike Ezell, the sheriff of a coastal county.
In the same runoff, Sheriff Mike Ezell has defeated six-term U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo in a Republican primary runoff in Mississippi.
It’s a rare defeat of a congressional incumbent in a Mississippi party primary. The state has a history of sending elected officials to Washington for decades to build seniority.
Ezell criticized Palazzo after a 2021 report by the Office of Congressional Ethics found “substantial reason to believe” Palazzo had abused his office by misspending campaign funds. A Palazzo spokesperson said the investigation was based on “false allegations” made by an opponent in the 2020 primary.
READ MORE: Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves signs largest teacher pay raise in years
Ezell is a sheriff in one of Mississippi’s coastal counties, and he started campaigning for the 4th District seat more than a year ago. He called Palazzo a no-show for skipping debates before the seven-person Republican primary in early June.
Palazzo is a military veteran who unseated a Democratic congressman in 2010.
In November, Ezell will face Democrat Johnny L. DuPree and Libertarian candidate Alden Patrick Johnson.
The congressional runoffs are rare. The Associated Press researched state records dating back 70 years, to 1952, and found that no U.S. representative from Mississippi had been in a party primary runoff during that time.
Another Trump ally, Colorado Rep. Lauren Boebert, one of the most fiery and polarizing members of Congress, easily beat back a challenge from a more mainstream Republican on Tuesday night to clinch her primary – immediately making her the favorite to retain her seat in November.
In Illinois, Republican Rep. Mary Miller, who called the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade a “historic victory for white life” during a rally with former President Donald Trump — her spokesperson said she misspoke — is going up against a fellow GOP incumbent.
Six states are holding congressional primary elections, primary runoffs or special elections. Many of the Republican races are testing Trump’s national influence, and others could provide hints of how voters are reacting to the high court’s decision on abortion.
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