BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - On the eve of the first Congressional debate for District 4, a small protest targeted Congressman Steven Palazzo on Tuesday night.
A handful of people gathered outside the Mississippi Coast Coliseum, where Palazzo was attending an event.
The protesters want to know why Palazzo, the incumbent Republican who's up for re-election, is not attending Wednesday's debate in Hattiesburg, or Thursday's debate in Long Beach.
"I think the voters of this district, they want to take part in the Democratic process, and once again Congressman Palazzo is nowhere to be found," said Libertarian candidate Ric McCluskey. "And if he can't stand up to me, a 31-year-old third party candidate, he can't stand up to Mr. Gladney, the Democrat who's also agreed to be there, how in the world can he stand up to DC?"
Palazzo told WLOX News Now he has prior commitments that have been on the books for months. On Wednesday he'll welcome the Sergeant Major of the U-S Marine Corps to South Mississippi, and Thursday he's hosting hundreds of high school students at his annual Youth Leadership Summit at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College.
"Obviously, your opponents, they're desperate for media attention, and this is just one of those tools in the toolbox to try to get their names out there for the voting public," said Palazzo. "I think it's a desperate attempt at media attention. But I don't work for them, I don't work for my opponents. I work for South Mississippi."
Wednesday night's debate will take place at the University of Southern Mississippi. Both McCluskey and Democrat Mark Gladney are expected to attend.