GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Things are heating up in the 4th district congressional race. Will the two front runners face off in a debate?
Thursday morning, Gene Taylor hand delivered a letter to Congressman Steven Palazzo's campaign headquarters. In the letter, Taylor challenged Palazzo to a televised debate.
Read the full letter here: http://on.fb.me/1jOplqh
Gene Taylor wrote "The people of South Mississippi deserve a congressman who is not afraid to defend his record to the voters."
You'll remember in 2010, Palazzo defeated Taylor who had held the 4th district congressional seat for 21 years. The former Democrat is running as a republican and will face Palazzo and three others in the June 3rd GOP primary.
We caught up with Congressman Palazzo at his appearance before the Gulfport Rotary Club to ask him about the challenge. WLOX has invited both candidates to appear in a televised debate. We asked Palazzo if he would participate.
"No, I'm not going to make a mockery of the republican primary process," Palazzo told WLOX News. "The people in South Mississippi elected me in 2010 to fight for them and their families, and if people re-elect me I'm going to continue to do that. I'll fight to repair the damage Gene Taylor and his democratic friends inflicted on America."
We asked Palazzo what he would say to people in the district who want to see him and Taylor in a debate.
Congressman Palazzo said, "I'm not hearing that. Where I go, people are appreciative of the work we're doing. They know he's a lifelong democrat. They know he can't be trusted. They know he switched parties for political expediency. I don't understand why I would debate a lifelong democrat in a republican primary?"
In that letter from Gene Taylor, the former congressman also charges Palazzo with declining to take part in the Coast Young Professionals campaign forum.
Again, WLOX has extended an invitation to both the Palazzo and Taylor campaigns to participate in a debate prior to the June 3 primary. Gene Taylor has accepted. Steven Palazzo has said no to a televised debate.