June 3 could just be Round 1 of the Palazzo versus Taylor rematch.
Round 2 could come in the form of a runoff if Tom Carter and the other two also rans have their way.
Here’s how the race is shaking out:
By all indications incumbent Steven Palazzo remains the frontrunner in the five man 4th District Republican primary.
Gene Taylor, the former congressman whose sincere conversion from being a Democrat remains in doubt, is seemingly running a close second in his first ever GOP race.
Tom Carter, a political newcomer who sank significant personal funds into his campaign, appears to be running third and by all indications has set himself up well for a future run for office whether for this seat or another if he so chooses. He’s made notable inroads around the district with conservative voters, gaining supporters and raising his name ID more than is typical of a newbie.
Of the bottom two also rans, Tavish Kelly just may squeak out a fourth place finish over Ron Vincent.
Kelly impressed a few folks during the campaign with his youth and energy, and is seen as a future Tea Party darling in South Mississippi, as one observer mentioned.
Vincent has become a perennial candidate in the 4th District if for no other reason than because he doesn’t care for Palazzo on a personal level. His antics in this year’s campaign, as previously noted here on Y’all Politics, ruffled the feathers of his supporters setting himself up for an even bigger electoral failure.
The question is: What percentage of the vote will Carter, Kelly and Vincent combined walk away with on Tuesday?
If those three, led by Carter, can draw upwards of 10 percent, Palazzo and Taylor may well be headed to a runoff.
It’s likely that Palazzo and Taylor will split the lower six counties, with Taylor strongest in the lower three. Palazzo should still edge him out, however.
Heading up Highway 49, Taylor was never a Pinebelt favorite. As a matter of fact that’s the area that helped Palazzo best Taylor in 2010. Palazzo should maintain the edge there as well.
If Taylor has been able to pull the wool over enough eyes with his party switch and nostalgia…
If voters have a short memory of the true lack of Taylor’s influence and leadership while in office for 20 years…
If Taylor has been able to siphon enough voters from Palazzo because of spinning his voting record such as on Sandy Relief or other distorted talking points…
If Carter has made as much headway as some perceive and as his camp’s internal polling would have us believe…
And if Kelly and Vincent can add to Carter’s points with any credible showing…
…There may be two more weeks of intra-party campaigning in South Mississippi.
Here’s to hoping I’m wrong and my fellow 4th District voters are able to read the political tea leaves better than I’ve given them credit for here.
With the current make up of Congress there’s only one real choice if the 4th District wants their Representative to hold a place within the House leadership or if voters want their Congressman to have any political capital to expand on their behalf, and that’s to reelect Steven Palazzo.