WASHINGTON — Embattled Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., was defeated by Mike Ezell in a runoff in the state's Gulf Coast-based 4th Congressional District on Tuesday, NBC News projects.
Palazzo, a six-term incumbent who is a member of the powerful Appropriations Committee, faces a House ethics investigation into potential misuse of campaign funds.
Ezell, a longtime local sheriff and a county chair for Donald Trump's 2016 campaign, hounded Palazzo over the ethics probe and for being absent from both the district and the House chamber.
Several times during the current Congress, Palazzo wrote letters to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., designating colleagues to vote for him by proxy because the Covid pandemic prevented him from participating in person.
In the first round of voting on June 7, Palazzo came in first among seven candidates with 31.6 percent of the vote — but failed to hit the majority threshold to avoid a runoff. Ezell advanced by coming in second with 25.1 percent of the vote.
But as one Mississippi incumbent fell, another one survived an electoral scare.
Republican Rep. Michael Guest, who angered Trump supporters by voting in May 2021 to establish an independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, won a runoff in the 3rd District on Tuesday.
Guest, a two-term incumbent, had come in second to Michael Cassidy in the first round of voting on June 7.
But Cassidy was forced to defend his onetime support for a "Medicare for All"-style health insurance program in the runoff. Although Cassidy distanced himself from the position, it was archived on his campaign’s website.
Guest's vote last year was for a never-chartered independent commission, not the House select committee probing the Capitol attack, which held its sixth public hearing Tuesday.
If the awkward timing hurt Guest, it wasn’t enough to prevent him from winning renomination. In the heavily Republican 3rd and 4th districts, both GOP nominees are heavily favored to win in the November general election.