HATTIESBURG, Mississippi -- The first challenger to Congressman Steven Palazzo for Mississippi's fourth congressional seat emerged on Thursday, a TEA Party candidate from Hattiesburg.
Ron Vincent, 71, is a retired GE engineer from Hattiesburg, although he said his career took him all over the world. It was partially what he saw during those years abroad, he said, that prompted him to run for public office now.
"I spent 10 years in Europe and lived behind the Iron Curtain for awhile, and I saw socialism up close," he said. "I see that coming here now, and it scares me to death."
Vincent will run on the Republican ticket. He said he originally had planned to wait and see when and if state Sen. Michael Watson, R-Pascagoula, would announce his run, but decided to go ahead and get started since it's a short election cycle.
He said his plan is to "outwork," rather than outraise Palazzo.
"I'll be doing some advertising in newspaper and TV, and hosting meet and greets," he said. "I've got some donors lined up."
Vincent said last year he supported Palazzo, a conservative Republican from Biloxi who has said he shares many TEA party ideals.
But Vincent said he has been disappointed with Palazzo's performance since being elected.
"Congressman Palazzo voted to raise the debt limit and the list goes on," he said. "Somehow we've got to cut spending and with Palazzo up there that is not going to happen."
In response to Vincent's announcement, Palazzo said he has gotten quite different feedback from his south Mississippi constituents.
"They tell me, 'We're proud of what you're doing, keep fighting the good fight.'
"The people of this district sent me to Washington to reverse the Obama administration's big-government, big spending policies. That's exactly what we've spent the last twelve months doing, and it's an honor to serve the people of South Mississippi."