Gene Taylor, now Republican, will seek to reclaim seat from Palazzo

Former U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor of Bay St. Louis said it was the dysfunction of Washington that drove him to seek a return to the job he held for two decades. This time, though, he’ll be running as a Republican.

“Like everybody else in South Mississippi, I look 1,100 miles up toward Washington and wonder what in the heck are these guys doing?” Taylor said. “None of them are cooperating. We have serious needs. They have voted to make our flood insurance more expensive, they have voted to cut the military. They furloughed federal employees while they continued to get paid. This is a democratic republic, it’s all about majorities, it’s all about working together to find common goals.”

That same D.C. logjam prompted an

other former congressman to try for a return to the Capitol, only former District 1 Rep. Travis Childers of Booneville will remain a Democrat but will be looking for a promotion to the U.S. Senate and the seat held by Republican Thad Cochran.

“Regular people and small businesses across Mississippi are still hurting in this economy, but Washington is more partisan and dysfunctional than ever,” Childers said in a statement. “That has got to change. What I know is that the old ways of Washington aren’t working, and a new breed of partisanship isn’t the answer.”

He won the District 1 seat in a 2008 special election after Roger Wicker left for the Senate upon the retirement of Trent Lott. He then won re-election to a full term that fall before losing to Rep. Alan Nunnelee in 2010. Cochran has his own primary challenge from state Sen. Chris McDaniel, a TEA Party favorite.

First, though, Childers will face Bill Marcy of Vicksburg, who twice challenged Rep. Bennie Thompson as a Republican but switched to the Democratic Party to run for U.S. Senate.

Taylor has been itching for a rematch since that election himself.

“I’ve been thinking about it since November of 2010,” he said, referring to the race he lost to U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo. “2012, I was thinking about it seriously, too. But at that time, particularly around the filing deadline, we thought my dad was on his death bed. Thankfully he recovered and was with us a while longer.”

It wasn’t a rash decision, he said.

“But the actual decision to pick up the papers — my wife and I had a long discussion this morning,” he said. “I wanted to make sure she was on board — and she is.”

Race is on

Hours after Taylor told the Sun Herald he would run, Palazzo welcomed his challenger to the race.

“It took 25 years for my former Democrat opponent to make it into a Republican primary, and I welcome him to it,” he said in a release from his campaign office.

Taylor said he would wait until Mardi Gras fever subsides, make a formal announcement on Thursday on the Coast, then “spend the next 90 days getting out and asking people for their votes.”

And, though he’s now officially a Republican, he said he hasn’t changed.

“I’ve always been pro-life,” he said. “I’ve always believed in people’s right to own a gun and their Second Amendment rights. I’ve been probably the strongest supporter of a balanced budget of our entire Mississippi delegation, including the guys who were Republicans at that time. And I’ve always been for a strong national defense.”

SunHerald
2/28/14