By Emily Wagster Pettus/The Associated Press
Anti-incumbent fever swept through south Mississippi on Tuesday when Republican Steven Palazzo, a state representative from Biloxi, unseated 21-year Democratic incumbent Gene Taylor of Bay St. Louis in the 4th District congressional race.
Combined with Alan Nunnelee’s victory over Travis Childers in the 1st District and Gregg Harper’s re-election in the 3rd District, the GOP ended the day with three of the state’s four House seats.
Democrat Bennie Thompson easily won re-election in the 2nd District.
Taylor and Childers, both conservative Blue Dog Democrats, were caught in a wave of voter discontent with Washington.
At his victory party in Gulfport, Palazzo said, “What we did today is we went to the polls and we voted to repeal the government takeover of health care. … We said no to the liberal, Pelosi-led agenda that is destroying this country.”
Palazzo has been in the state House of Representatives since 2007.
Gov. Haley Barbour was in Washington on Tuesday night and issued a statement applauding the election of three fellow Republicans to Mississippi’s U.S. House delegation.
“After two years of an unprecedented lurch to the left in Washington, Mississippians today made it clear we don’t like government spending like there’s no tomorrow,” Barbour said.
Thompson attended a victory party with about 2,000 supporters in his hometown of Bolton. In a phone interview, he said he’s grateful to voters and he has accepted that when Republicans take over the House majority, he will lose his chairmanship of the House Homeland Security Committee.
He’ll become the committee’s top member of the minority party.
“I’ll be the ranking Democrat and will still have a part in setting policy to keeping Americans safe and making sure that natural disasters are responded to accordingly,” Thompson told The Associated Press. “For that, I will go back in January – I’m still chairman until the end of this session – and continue to work to work for the 2nd District.”
Thompson defeated Republican Bill Marcy of Vicksburg and the Reform Party’s Ashley Norwood of Canton.
Harper of Pearl defeated the same opponent as in 2008, Democrat Joel Gill of Pickens. The Reform Party’s Tracella Lou O’Hara Hill of Hattiesburg also ran this year.
Harper said he wants to return federal spending to “pre-stimulus and pre-bailout levels” and extend tax cuts that are set to expire.
“I think the federal government ought to live within its means,” Harper said.