Gladney said, “He’s a dodger. He’s dodging everything. He’s dodging. He refuses to show up anywhere. I’m very irritated that he doesn’t have the character or the intestinal fortitude to show up and meet his constituents and explain his positions on the issues and defend the things that he’s done while he’s been in office. That’s what democracy is supposed to be about. It’s supposed to be about the fact that we debate the issues intellectually. We quit hiding, and we come out and we give the voters a clear cut choice on what they need to do. I just personally feel like Palazzo has dodged again.”
Palazzo’s campaign said scheduling conflicts will prevent the representative, who is running for his fourth term, from attending Wednesday night.
“Congressman Palazzo is attending the Salute to the Military Tuesday night,” said Jill Duckworth, a spokesperson for Palazzo, in an email. “Wednesday he is welcoming the Sergeant Major of the entire U.S. Marine Corps to South Mississippi before attending his son’s junior varsity football game that evening. Thursday Congressman Palazzo is hosting more than 400 high school students at his annual Youth Leadership Summit at (Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College) all day before heading to Ellisville to participate in the Jones County Junior College Championship Ring Ceremony Thursday night.”
Paul Strait, an assistant professor in USM’s Department of Communication and the director of forensics, said the Gladney and McCluskey campaigns were quick to accept the debate invitation, and Palazzo’s said it would decide closer to the date if the congressman would attend.
“The Palazzo campaign got back to us early on to say they would get back to us later, and we heard from them last week that they weren’t attending,” Strait said. “I think as the incumbent, perhaps they don’t have as much to gain by participating the other campaigns, so in that sense, it’s not super surprising.”