Congressional candidates campaign here, cite reasons for running

Published 12:08 am Sunday, January 8, 2012

Ron Vincent, a leader in the Tea Party movement in Hattiesburg, Thursday night said that the Hattiesburg group no longer supports Fourth District Congressman Steven Palazzo of Biloxi because the group is dissatisfied with Palazzo’s voting record.

Vincent, who has filed as a GOP challenger to Palazzo in the upcoming GOP primary in March, talked to the Pearl River County Patriots at the Senior Center about his campaign. He spoke to the Item before his presentation in an interview. Palazzo filed for re-election on Friday. Also filing to run against Palazzo was 27-year-old Michael Herrington, also of Hattiesburg, who said he was fed up with the Washington gridlock.

In addition, Thomas Cramer told the Patriot group, which is a Tea Party group based in Picayune, about his plans to challenge U.S. Senator Roger F. Wicker. Cramer will be the second candidate to challenge Wicker. Coahoma County District 5 Supervisor Dr. Roger Weiner also recently filed last week to run against Wicker.

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Cramer, a resident of Vancleave who works for Ingalls in Pascagoula, said his decision to run against Wicker was prompted when he differed with the senator’s vote on the recently passed and signed-into-law Defense Appropriations Bill. President Obama at first said he would veto the bill but later signed it.

Critics of the bill have charged that a little known provision, Sec. 1032, allows the U.S. military to detain indefinitely, even at the Guantanamo Bay military prison for terrorists, a U.S. citizen branded as a terrorist.

Cramer said he decided to run against Wicker because “we need someone in Washington that stands on principle and is not a milquetoast.”

Cramer said that when Wicker told him he planned to vote for the bill “something clicked in my mind, snapped, if you will, and I knew then that I had to step forward.”

Cramer is a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Navy.

Cramer said he has not filed as of Thursday but was trying to get 1,000 valid voter signatures on a petition that has to be filed with the Secretary of State by Friday in order to be on the ballot as an Independent.

He told the Patriot group that he wanted on as an Independent because it would give him more time to campaign since he would not face Wicker in a March GOP primary but in the Nov. 6 General Election.

About 40 turned out to hear the two challengers. The Patriot group here is headed by Paul Ingram and Emil Kleinfeld.

Vincent, an organizer of the 912 Project in Hattiesburg, said that the Tea Party group in Hattiesburg had backed Palazzo in the last election when Palazzo beat veteran Congressman Gene Taylor but would not support him this time.

Vincent said he decided to run because, he charged, Palazzo had not lived up to his campaign promises.

Cramer said that he was in on the ground floor of the organization of the Gulf Coast Tea Party group and described himself as a “Jeffersonian constitutionalist conservative.”

Admitting he is on a low budget, Cramer said he would take a page out of U.S. Sen. Scott Brown’s play book to challenge the powerful Wicker.

“I have an old pickup truck and I intend to cover this state from one end to the other and talk to people one-on-one and tell them the danger we are in,” said Cramer.

Brown won the late U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy’s seat in Congress by using unconventional campaign tactics throughout Massachusetts. He traveled the state in an old beat-up pickup truck.

The deadline for filing in the Congressional races is Jan. 13. The first primary is in March.

Vincent, a retired engineer, added, “We’ve been badly disappointed with Steven. He voted to increase the debt ceiling, which we asked him not to do; he voted for several continuing resolutions rather than to cut spending; he voted for the Patriot act and the defense authorization act, all of them broadly opposed in South Mississippi.”

“He’s well funded but broadly disliked over here, and has created a lot of negative press since being in Washington,” charged Vincent.

Vincent said he had enough money to make a serious challenge to Palazzo.

Palazzo, who beat veteran Taylor in November 2010, had said in December he planned to run again.

Wicker serves as Deputy Republican Whip in the U.S. Senate and is a member of the Armed Services Committee, among others. Wicker served seven terms in the U.S. House from District One before entering the U.S. Senate.