Congressional candidate E. Brian Rose of Ocean Springs reported this week that incumbent Representative Steven Palazzo has failed to respond to a debate challenge ahead of the 2018 Republican Primary.
Rose issued the challenge on June 12th in letters mailed to the Congressman’s Biloxi and Washington addresses.
“There is a genuine thirst for dialogue about the issues. The voters are tired of being shut out and denied the opportunity to attend public discussion,” Rose wrote in a letter to Palazzo. “Debate between candidates is a time honored tradition in American politics. It gives voters a chance to see more than one side and make an informed voting decision.”
In the letters, Rose expressed concern over Palazzo’s refusal to take part in any debate, since being elected. “In 2010, you were happy to honor that tradition by participating in debates before the Republican Primary and General Election. That tradition came to a screeching halt, once you were elected.”
As the challenger to incumbent Gene Taylor in 2010, Palazzo demanded Taylor debate him. “I not only want to debate him on WLOX TV, I want to debate him in each of the 15 counties of the district,” Palazzo told The Picayune Item. Taylor accepted and the two men did face off prior to the election.
Ironically, six years later, Taylor was a primary election challenger demanding a debate against Palazzo. Palazzo declined. He also declined debate challenges from general election opponents Rick McClusky and Mark Gladney.
Earlier this year, local media pointed out Rep. Palazzo’s refusal to hold town hall meetings, earning him the nickname “No-Show Palazzo.” The Congressman responded in a letter to the Sun Herald editor, in which he blamed his lack of public appearances on Democrats angry about the recent presidential election. Rose responded to the letter by pointing out the election was only a few months ago, while Palazzo has not held a live town hall meeting in over five years.
Rose is the only challenger to Palazzo in the upcoming 2018 Republican Primary.