Mississippi’s 4th Congressional District could be a free-for-all in 2022’s midterm elections.

Incumbent Republican Congressman Steven Palazzo is facing an ethics inquiry over campaign spending.  The matter is pending before the U.S. House Ethics Committee and could be heard later this year.

That investigation has led some to view Palazzo as vulnerable in the 2022 Republican Primary.

All indications as of now are that Palazzo will vie to retain his seat in the 4th Congressional District.  He said as much in a statement to Y’all Politics.  With the Republicans within sight of taking back the U.S. House, Palazzo, if re-elected, would likely retain his seat on Appropriations, a vital seat for Mississippi.  However, in the unlikely event that he bows out, this seat could be an unprecedented horserace in South Mississippi.

Since being elected in 2010 in the historic wave midterm election, Palazzo has been repeatedly challenged and defeated all comers including incumbent Democrat Gene Taylor who he defeated again in a Republican Primary after Taylor switched parties in 2014. He won re-election in 2020 over three primary challengers, drawing 67% of the vote in the Republican Primary and running unopposed in the General Election.

Palazzo’s December 2020 campaign finance report shows that he has over $300,000 cash on hand.  That total is low by typical congressional standards, but Palazzo has historically not had a history of major fundraising as part of his tenure in Congress, nor has needed a large war chest as he has been able to ward off challengers fairly easily in the past.

Below is a list of potential 2022 challengers in the 4th Congressional District Republican Primary, which is in all likelihood where the seat will be decided.

NOTE: Y’all Politics will update this article as statements are submitted.

Who’s In:

Carl Boyanton

Boyanton previously challenged Palazzo, and was the opponent that filed the ethics complaint against the incumbent. He has announced that he intends to run again in 2022. Boyanton finished last in the pack of four candidates in the 2020 Republican Primary, drawing just over 9% of the vote.

Mike Ezell

Ezell is the Sheriff of Jackson County. He announced a run for the 4th Congressional District on Wednesday, April 7.  He made four stops throughout the 4th Congressional District to announce his run, starting in Pascagoula and moving to Gulfport, Hattiesburg, and Laurel.

Who’s Rumored:

Charles Busby

Busby is a State Representative representing parts of Jackson County, mainly Pascagoula. He is the Mississippi House Transportation Committee chairman. He issued the following statement to Y’all Politics on Tuesday:

“The opportunity to effect conservative policy at a federal level, especially at this time when it’s so desperately needed is most appealing to me. However decisions such as this impact the personal lives of not only me but those dearest to me. We are having those conversations now and when I am comfortable with a decision I will announce it.”

Robert Deming

Deming is a Biloxi City Councilman who is an attorney and the owner of Deming Enterprises. He previously challenged Palazzo in 2020. He drew 14% of the vote in the 2020 Republican Primary, finishing second in the pack of four.

Joey Fillingane

Fillingane is a State Senator in the Pine Belt and an attorney. He issued the following statement to Y’all Politics on Tuesday:

“I am following the ongoing investigation by the House Ethics Committee of Congressman Palazzo with deep concern and interest. I believe our 4th Congressional District deserves a conservative representative who shows up for work every day and does not bring embarrassment or reproach to the district. Everyone is innocent until proven guilty, but if the allegations are true, Congressman Palazzo should do the honorable thing and step aside to make way for someone who can represent the 4th Congressional District of Mississippi effectively.”

Samuel Hickman

Hickman is a former staffer for Palazzo who challenged him in the 2020 Republican Primary. He is from Pearl River County. Hickman drew just under 10% of the vote in the 2020 race, finishing third in the field of four.

Dane Maxwell

Maxwell is currently the Southern District Public Service Commissioner and Chairman of the PSC. He previously served as the Mayor of Pascagoula and was the State Director for the Donald Trump for President campaign in Mississippi. He issued the following statement to Y’all Politics on Tuesday:

“It’s an incredible honor to serve South Mississippi as Public Service Commissioner and Chairman of the Commission. We have been able to accomplish many exciting things across the entire state in just a short time including the largest expansion of high-speed internet in the history of our country as well as multiple economic development projects to bring more high-paying jobs to South Mississippi.

“I have no plans to run against Congressman Palazzo, but if the seat were to become vacant I would highly consider running. I enjoy tackling difficult issues and have a proven record of getting things done on the local, state and federal level. I’m humbled and very much appreciate all of the encouragement I have received across the Southern District from the Coast and throughout the Pine Belt. I will continue to pray for guidance and I am excited about the future.”

Chris McDaniel

McDaniel is a State Senator from Jones County. He has previously run for U.S. Senate, narrowly losing statewide to former U.S. Senator Thad Cochran in 2014 and then drawing 16% of the vote in the 2018 special election race against current U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith and two other candidates. He issued the following statement to Y’all Politics on Tuesday:

“The people remind me daily that Mississippi needs strong principled conservative fighters at every level.  And frankly, I’m disappointed with the lack of conviction in many of our elected officials.  So I’m not ruling out any race.  All options are presently on the table.”

Rebecca Powers

Powers is a Harrison County Supervisor. She previously worked as a reporter and nightly news anchor at WLOX TV.

Marie Sanderson

Sanderson is President and Founding Partner of GuidePostStrategies, a federal strategic communications and public affairs firm. Previously, Sanderson worked as the Policy Director for the Republican Governors Association (RGA) and the Republican Governors Public Policy Committee (RGPPC). She lives in Ocean Springs.

Clay Wagner

Wagner is a Senior Vice President and Economic Development Officer at Hancock Whitney Bank.

Brice Wiggins 

Wiggins is a State Senator from Jackson County, representing the cities of Pascagoula, Gautier and Ocean Springs. He is an attorney and a former Assistant District Attorney. He issued the following statement to Y’all Politics on Tuesday:

“It is an honor that people would even consider me to represent them in Congress. If that is what the citizens want then I am certainly open to the possibility.  I have had many people encourage me to seek the position, including my family, friends and colleagues, and it is something we are actively look into.  

“My entire career, I have fought for transparency and accountability, from my time prosecuting felons as an Asst. District Attorney to authoring and passing into law the DMR Accountability and Transparency Act.

“I am sorry that Congressman Palazzo finds himself in this situation. But, as elected officials we must be fully transparent and honest with our constituents. Elected officials are public servants. It has always been my duty and honor to serve the people of Mississippi with honesty, compassion, and transparency.

“While there is a long way to go, with God’s blessing, the support of my family and the will of the citizens of MS-04 we will go about this with integrity and tenacity like I have always done in fighting for the people of South Mississippi.”

Who’s Out:

Joel Carter

Carter is a State Senator from Harrison County. He confirmed to Y’all Politics that he was not considering a run for Congress at this time.

Scott DeLano

DeLano is a State Senator in Harrison County and a former State Representative. He is a commercial and residential real estate developer. He issued the following statement to Y’all Politics on Tuesday confirming that he was not considering a run for Congress at this time:

“I’ve been approached by several people regarding MS04.  While I appreciate the encouragement and support, I am a local businessman who has chosen public policy as a way to give back and help improve my community. I feel it is an honor to be able to represent Coastal MS in the State Senate. It is not my desire to become a full time politician on the federal stage.”

Billy Hewes

Hewes is the Mayor of Gulfport and a former State Senator. He confirmed to Y’all Politics that he was not considering a run for Congress at this time.

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Qualifying will begin in January 2022. The Primary will be held on June 7, 2022, and the General Election is scheduled for November 8, 2022.

Mississippi’s 4th Congressional District is made up of the entire counties of Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Pearl River, Stone, George, Marion, Lamar, Forrest, Perry, Greene, Jones, and Wayne, along with the southeastern part of Clarke are counted in this district.