No debate, Palazzo’s staff says to Taylor’s hand-delivered challenge

U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo will not debate the man he beat in 2010, longtime South Mississippi U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, Palazzo’s campaign manager said after Taylor challenged Palazzo to debate “anytime, anywhere.”

Taylor, a longtime Democrat who switched parties and is running against Palazzo in the Republican primary, delivered the debate challenge in the form of a one-page letter to Palazzo’s campaign office on Pass Road.

Taylor and Palazzo Campaign Manager Hunter Lipscomb greeted one another cordially, then Taylor handed Lipscomb the letter. Lipscomb said Palazzo was at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula with Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, who was looking at Coast Guard cutters being built on the yard.

Taylor, accompanied by a campaign volunteer, handed Lipscomb the letter and departed.

Lipscomb told a Sun Herald reporter: “We don’t debate Democrats in a Republican primary. We believe this is total political opportunism and expediency. We’re not going to help him get to Congress with his liberal Democratic colleagues.”

Taylor said he had never turned down the opportunity to debate his challengers in an election.

“Who’s kidding who?” Taylor asked outside Palazzo’s headquarters.