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Hattiesburg Tea Party Leader To Challenge Congressman Palazzo in Republican Primary

By Rhonda Miller | Published 29 Dec 2011 10:13pm | comments
Congressman Steven Palazzo represents Mississippi's fourth district, which covers the southeastern part of the state.

After one year in office, Republican Congressman Steven Palazzo has his first challenger, a Tea Party organizer from Hattiesburg. MPB’s Rhonda Miller has more.

Congressman Steven Palazzo said in his Gulfport office Thursday he doesn’t think there’s a philosophical divide between conservative Republicans and the Tea Party in Mississippi.

"Tea Party values are very similar to conservative Republican values. I cannot really distinguish the two. It’s individual liberty. It’s personal responsibility. Strong traditional family values is a Republican principle and a strong national defense and strong faith in God," said Palazzo.

But Hattiesburg Tea Party leader Ron Vincent doesn’t agree. Vincent confirmed Thursday he will challenge Palazzo in the Republican primary. Vincent is a retired engineer who’s making his first run for elected office.

"When the 112th Congress got started, we expected that the House might try to do something we are very fond of down here in South Mississippi, like defund Obamacare, to reduce spending, to reduce taxes, to reduce the burdensome regulations we have placed on businesses. None of that’s happened," said Vincent.

After his first year in office, Palazzo said he’s worked for conservative values in Washington.

"I think when you look at what we’ve done to lessen the impact of government on business, on individuals, to rein in the spending, we’ve actually changed the debate in Washington, not from how much this administration can spend, but how much we can cut," said Palazzo.

Vincent doesn’t believe Palazzo has done enough to cut spending. And the Tea Party message hasn’t gotten across.

"Basically the Republican party, the Mississippi GOP, at least, has paid scant attention," VIncent said. "They have gone their own way and done their own thing. In most cases they don’t even reply to our e-mails."

Qualifying for party primaries is January 2 through January 13. Primary elections are March 13.

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Congressman Steven Palazzo represents Mississippi's fourth district, which covers the southeastern part of the state.


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