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Rep. Guest Defeats GOP Challenger in Runoff Despite Jan. 6th Criticism

Michael Guest speaking at a podium
After an upset second-place finish in June 7th’s first primary, Republican incumbent Rep. Michael Guest has routed his opponent Michael Cassidy, setting him up for a third term as representative for Mississippi’s third congressional district. Photo courtesy Michael Guest

U.S. House Rep. Michael Guest, the incumbent in Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional District, soundly defeated challenger Michael Cassidy in tonight’s Republican primary runoff. The runoff follows a surprising near-victory for Cassidy in the June 7 primary, where the Naval reserve pilot eked out a first place finish but failed to win the 50% necessary to avoid a runoff.

Cassidy has repeatedly attacked Guest for voting in favor of a committee to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. A Republican filibuster eventually killed that bill, but the U.S. House established its own select committee. 

Amid GOP criticism, Guest claimed his vote was necessary to investigate “what was (U.S. House) Speaker Pelosi’s role, and … what is the level of blame that should be placed on her for what happened on Jan. 6?”

“To this day Mr. Guest refuses to acknowledge that he shouldn’t have voted for that bill,” Cassidy wrote on social media, “which 9 times called the events of January 6 a ‘domestic terror attack.’ Let’s show Mr. Guest and the rest of the RINOs that there ARE consequences to their actions and vote him out of office on June 28th.”

But Guest reclaimed the momentum in the contest through highlighting Cassidy’s own proposals, many of which called for enormous spending on health care, years-long maternity leave, and a unique proposal to pay all newlyweds $20,000—to be paid back in the event of a divorce. 

“Michael Cassidy claims to be a conservative, but he wants to spend YOUR money like a socialist liberal,” darkly intoned a website from a group identified as “Friends of Michael Guest.”

Following the primary upset, Guest and GOP allies pounced on Cassidy’s plans, which quickly disappeared from the candidate’s campaign website. In an interview with the Mississippi Free Press, Cassidy sprinted away from those proposals, arguing that to call them plans at all was a “misrepresentation of the Guest campaign.” 

“That was a rough draft,” Cassidy said. “It was never a plan, I never campaigned on it, and it was not Medicare For All.”

Cassidy instead shared a raft of significantly more modest plans—including child tax deductions and quicker time to market for new prescription drugs—in the place of his earlier proposals.

For all of Cassidy’s attempts to reframe his website’s content as briefly considered ideas, the shift in support in tonight’s primary runoff was stark. Though Guest claimed just under 300 votes less than Cassidy in the June 7 contest, tonight Guest thumped his opponent by a 67%-to-33% margin with about 99% of votes counted.

Just before the election, Cassidy took to social media to complain that Guest was “coordinating with Democrats to rig the run-off election this Tuesday.”

Cassidy referred to allegations that Mississippi GOP Chairman David Carter met with Democratic candidate for Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional District Shuwaski Young, in order to encourage Democratic voters to support Guest in the primary and then Young in the general election. Cassidy cited an outdated version of Mississippi’s state code which prevented individuals from voting for a candidate in a primary unless they intended to vote for that candidate in the general election.

The Legislature amended that part of state code years ago. Now, voters are only barred from voting in the primaries of both parties, not from voting in the primary of one party and then supporting a different candidate in the general election.

Guest will face Democratic candidate Shuwaski Young in November. You can learn about Young’s view on the issues with his responses to MFP’s candidate questionnaire. Guest has not responded to the questionnaire.

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