Kelly, Thompson, Guest in good position for re-election. Palazzo could face a runoff in a 7-man GOP Primary field.

First quarter campaign finance reports are up on the Federal Election Commission (FEC) website showing the latest fundraising numbers from Mississippi’s 2022 midterm Congressional candidates.

With the Republican and Democratic primaries set for June 7th, these campaign finance numbers provide a glimpse as to the viability and the seriousness of the candidates.

Here is a rundown of the recent FEC filings along with a bit of analysis on what the numbers tell us:

1st District

Incumbent Congressman Trent Kelly (R) is the odds-on favorite to win re-election. The fact that both the GOP challenger and the two Democrats running have not filed their FEC reports indicates that they are not serious candidates and have little to no campaign operation to speak of. Kelly should cruise to re-election in November no matter which Democrat he faces.

Republicans:

  • Trent Kelly (incumbent)
    – Raised this period: $152,000
    – Cash on hand: $222,000
  • Mark Strauss
    – No Report Showing

Democrats:

  • Hunter Avery
    – No Report Showing
  • Diane Black
    – No Report Showing

2nd District

Incumbent Congressman Bennie Thompson (D) remains nearly untouchable in the 2nd Congressional District. His campaign war chest continues to build, now moving past the $1.8 million mark. His Democratic challenger, Jerry Kerner, loaned himself $5,000, raised $9,000 and only has $1,100 left in the bank. As for the Republicans vying to face Thompson in the November General Election, whoever gets the nod has their own Everest to climb.

Republicans:

  • Michael Carson
    – No Report Showing
  • Ron Eller
    – Raised this period: $2,700
    – Cash on hand: -$5,000
  • Brian Flowers
    – Raised this period: $100
    – Cash on hand: $1,500
  • Stanford Johnson
    – No Report Showing

Democrats:

  • Bennie Thompson (incumbent)
    – Raised this period: $146,000
    – Cash on hand: $1,804,000
  • Jerry Kerner
    – Raised this period: $9,000
    – Cash on hand: $1,100

3rd District

Incumbent Congressman Michael Guest (R) continues to be favored in this race. It may seem that Guest is being pushed in the GOP primary, however the numbers are deceiving. Michael Cassidy loaned himself nearly $230,000. This inflates the numbers and gives the impression that he has raised funds from donors displeased with Guest or that he has gained more support than what is likely true in terms of voter buy-in. Guest is on pace to win in June and face Shuwaski Young, the Democrat, in the General Election in November where the incumbent will be the driver’s seat.

Republicans:

  • Michael Guest (incumbent)
    – Raised this period: $54,000
    – Cash on hand: $311,000
  • Michael Cassidy
    – Raised this period: $25,000
    – Cash on hand: $247,000
  • Thomas Griffin
    – No Report Showing

Democrats:

  • Shuwaski Young
    – Raised this period: $14,000
    – Cash on hand: $3,300

4th District

On paper, the 4th District Republican Primary looks like a high dollar race that will press incumbent Congressman Steven Palazzo, and it is, sort of – but it is not between the candidate with the most money showing in their account and Palazzo.

Two candidates loaned themselves significant funds to attempt to buy name ID and appear more credible at the jump. Carl Boyanton loaned himself $550,000 to pad his campaign account but has struggled to gain any real voter buy-in in the district. His individual contributions are next to nil. Clay Wagner loaned himself $200,000 but has at least been able to attract a respectable donor base since announcing a run, pulling in over $200,000 in contributions.

The two Republican challengers with the most name ID are Mike Ezell and Brice Wiggins. Ezell is the Sheriff of Jackson County. He has been able to garner individual donor support of nearly $300,000 this cycle without loaning himself funds. A similar effort is true of Wiggins, a state senator also from Jackson County. Wiggins has raised nearly $200,000 in contributions minus any loans to himself.

Given the number of candidates in the Republican Primary, it is easy to see how there could be a runoff after June 7th. When drilling down in the numbers and assessing the buy-in from voters, if a runoff is in the making it is likely to be between either Palazzo and Ezell or Palazzo and Wiggins. However, Palazzo has dispensed with a crowded GOP primary field in the past, avoiding a runoff each time. Whether or not he can do it again remains to be seen.

Whoever emerges as the Republican nominee will face either former Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny DuPree or Pine Belt minister David Sellers, along with a Libertarian candidate, in the General Election. Odds are the Republican nominee will win in November.

Republicans:

  • Steven Palazzo (incumbent)
    – Raised this period: $84,000
    – Cash on hand: $334,000
  • Carl Boyanton
    – Raised this period: $3,000
    – Cash on hand: $499,000
  • Raymond Brooks
    – Raised this period: $6,700
    – Cash on hand: $670
  • Mike Ezell
    – Raised this period: $92,500
    – Cash on hand: $204,000
  • Kidron Peterson
    – No Report Showing
  • Clay Wagner
    – Raised this period: $93,000
    – Cash on hand: $345,000
  • Brice Wiggins
    – Raised this period: $68,000
    – Cash on hand: $70,000

Democrats:

  • Johnny DuPree
    – Raised this period: $25,000
    – Cash on hand: $24,000
  • David Sellers
    – Raised this period: $6,800
    – Cash on hand: $5,300

Libertarian

  • Alden Johnson
    – Raised this period: $550
    – Cash on hand: $880