Gene Taylor says race for South Mississippi congressional seat is a dead heat

GULFPORT — Former U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor said the race with incumbent U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo, the man who beat Taylor in 2010, is neck and neck.

Taylor, who opened his Gulfport campaign office on Washington Avenue on Friday, said Palazzo is below 50 percent in at least one poll.

“He’s the incumbent,” Taylor said. “Everybody knows he’s below 50 percent. It’s about five weeks out from the election and he’s desperate.

“He has nothing positive to say about himself, therefore he has to rehash old things.”

Taylor was referring to Palazzo ads linking Taylor to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and President Barack Obama. Palazzo campaigned with the slogan “Fire Pelosi” in 2010 and repeatedly referred to Taylor’s vote to help elect her speaker of the House.

Taylor, though, said this year is different. For one thing, he’s switched parties to run as a Republican in a district dominated by Republicans.

He said also is embracing social media, something he failed to do in 2010. And he’s highlighting his record in Congress, another thing he said he did poorly in 2010.

Social media, he said, will help him combat Palazzo’s huge money advantage. And he said he’s going to remind people again how much the federal government and the rest of the nation helped South Mississippi after Katrina, how he helped get lifetime medical care for military retirees and how get mine resistant armor for military vehicles that saved untold lives and limbs in Iraq and Afghanistan.