Almanac A members-only database of searchable profiles compiled and adapted from the Almanac of American Politics

Biography

Elected: 2010, 2nd term.

Born: February 21, 1970, Gulfport

Home: Biloxi

Education: U. of Southern MS, B.S. 1994, M.A. 1996.

Professional Career: CFO, Biloxi Housing Authority; owner, Palazzo & Co. PLLC.

Ethnicity: White/Caucasian

Religion: Catholic

Family: Married (Lisa) , 3 children

Republican Steven Palazzo, who upset 21-year incumbent Democrat Gene Taylor in 2010, is a fervent fiscal and social conservative representing an area where Hurricane Katrina caused severe damage. He drew considerable attention for voting against paying Hurricane Sandy claims on the East Coast.

Palazzo was born and raised in Gulfport, where his family has deep roots: Five generations have called South Mississippi home. He describes his community as characterized by “God-fearing men and women” who believe in faith and personal responsibility. After graduating from high school and enrolling for a semester at his local community college, Palazzo enlisted in the Marines, inspired by his grandfather, who served in the Pacific during World War II. From 1988 to 1996, Palazzo was assigned to the 3rd Force Reconnaissance Company, gathering intelligence and doing tours of duty in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia during the Persian Gulf War. “The Marine Corps breaks you down and builds you back up,” Palazzo told National Journal. “The traditions and the warrior spirit—those things are still instilled in me.” He remained active in the military in later life, joining the Mississippi National Guard in 1997 and spending a year supporting base operations at Camp Shelby for Operation Iraqi Freedom.

After he returned from the Persian Gulf War, Palazzo went back to school, earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees in accounting from the University of Southern Mississippi. He worked in accounting positions at various firms throughout the late 1990s, primarily in the construction industry. In 2001, he and his wife, Lisa Belvin, started the accounting practice Palazzo & Co., which grew into an international firm specializing in doing individual income tax returns for expatriates.

In 2007, Palazzo ran in a special election for the state House and won handily. Two years later, he decided to challenge Taylor for his congressional seat, although Taylor was almost a folk hero in Coastal Mississippi—Taylor lost his home to Katrina, was in good stead with the National Rifle Association, had one of the most conservative voting records among House Democrats, and had spoken out against many of his party’s major initiatives, including health care reform.

But even Taylor, once thought of as one of the safest Democrats in the House, had reason to sweat in the anti-incumbent environment of 2010. Even though it was difficult for Palazzo to attack Taylor’s conservative voting record, he portrayed him as an enabler of the Democratic agenda for his vote for California Democrat Nancy Pelosi as House speaker, which he said showed Taylor’s support for a “liberal socialist agenda.” And Taylor couldn’t count on much help from national Democrats, whom he had frequently bucked over the years. Taylor touted his conservative positions and even boasted to his local newspaper that he voted for Republican John McCain for president in 2008. It wasn’t enough, not in 2010. Palazzo won 52% to 47%.

In the House, Palazzo joined the Tea Party Caucus and followed his Class of 2010 colleagues in insisting that spending be sharply reduced. He opposed the New Year’s Day 2013 budget deal aimed at averting the so-called “fiscal cliff,” saying it did little in that area. A member of the Armed Services Committee, he added an amendment to the House-passed fiscal 2013 defense bill to ban same-sex marriage ceremonies on military bases; it was dropped in the Senate.

Opposing a proposal to end military sponsorships of NASCAR and other sports in July 2012, he said there was “no reason Congress should be telling the Department of Defense where and how to spend money.” A year earlier, however, he added money to a defense spending bill to buy land to expand a National Guard facility in his district, as well as for ship design and feasibility studies at Ingalls Shipbuilding in nearby Pascagoula. Recalling his attacks on Taylor for pork-barrel spending, Democrats and watchdog groups accused Palazzo of hypocrisy.

Palazzo has had occasional bouts of bad publicity. Some constituents publicly accused him of being inaccessible, in stark contrast to the gregarious Taylor, a charge that he denied. Roll Call newspaper reported in November 2011 that Palazzo’s staffers threw a raucous weekend party in Annapolis that drew a police visit. That article and others prompted speculation that Palazzo would get a serious primary challenge. But he got lucky: GOP state Sen. Michael Watson decided against running, and Palazzo easily vanquished two underfunded activists in the 2012 Republican primary. Then, Taylor declined to make another pass at his old seat, and Palazzo easily beat Democrat Matt Moore, a 36-year-old community college student.

Following the election, Palazzo drew the most attention of the 67 House Republicans who voted against the bill allowing an additional $9.7 billion in government borrowing to pay claims from Sandy, which did considerable damage on the East Coast. He and the others contended the measure should have offsetting spending cuts. Most other GOP lawmakers from coastal areas backed the bill, prompting the Sun Herald of Biloxi to say of Palazzo, “Seldom has a single vote in Congress appeared as cold-blooded and hard-headed.” Aware of the political damage, Palazzo toured Sandy-stricken areas and then co-signed a letter calling on colleagues to support a larger Sandy-related aid bill. GOP leaders then tapped Palazzo in January 2013 to lead efforts to reform disaster relief programs.

Office Contact Information

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-5772

(202) 225-7074

CHOB- Cannon House Office Building Room 331
Washington, DC 20515-2404

MAIN OFFICE

(202) 225-5772

(202) 225-7074

CHOB- Cannon House Office Building Room 331
Washington, DC 20515-2404

DISTRICT OFFICE

(228) 864-7670

(228) 864-3099

970 Tommy Munro Drive Suite D
Biloxi, MS 39532

DISTRICT OFFICE

(228) 864-7670

(228) 864-3099

970 Tommy Munro Drive Suite D
Biloxi, MS 39532

DISTRICT OFFICE

(228) 202-8104

(228) 202-8105

3118 Pascagoula Street Suite 181
Pascagoula, MS 39567-4215

DISTRICT OFFICE

(228) 202-8104

(228) 202-8105

3118 Pascagoula Street Suite 181
Pascagoula, MS 39567-4215

DISTRICT OFFICE

(601) 582-3246

(601) 582-3452

641 North Main Street Suite 142
Hattiesburg, MS 39401-3413

DISTRICT OFFICE

(601) 582-3246

(601) 582-3452

641 North Main Street Suite 142
Hattiesburg, MS 39401-3413

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

13155 Highway 67 Suite B
Biloxi, MS 39532

CAMPAIGN OFFICE

13155 Highway 67 Suite B
Biloxi, MS 39532

Staff

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Legislative Assistant

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Legislative Director

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Legislative Director

Govt Ops

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Legislative Correspondent

Gun Issues

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Legislative Assistant

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Health

Anna Rush
Legislative Assistant

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Homeland Security

Anna Rush
Legislative Assistant

anna.rush@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-5772

Housing

Laura Lee Burkett
Legislative Correspondent

Immigration

Anna Rush
Legislative Assistant

anna.rush@mail.house.gov
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Insurance

Anna Rush
Legislative Assistant

anna.rush@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-5772

Judiciary

Anna Rush
Legislative Assistant

anna.rush@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-5772

Labor

Laura Lee Burkett
Legislative Correspondent

Medicare

Anna Rush
Legislative Assistant

anna.rush@mail.house.gov
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Military

Patrick Large
Legislative Director

Science

Anna Rush
Legislative Assistant

anna.rush@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-5772

Small Business

Patrick Large
Legislative Director

Social Security

Anna Rush
Legislative Assistant

anna.rush@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-5772

Tax

Patrick Large
Legislative Director

Technology

Anna Rush
Legislative Assistant

anna.rush@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-5772

Telecommunications

Patrick Large
Legislative Director

Anna Rush
Legislative Assistant

anna.rush@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-5772

Trade

Anna Rush
Legislative Assistant

anna.rush@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-5772

Transportation

Patrick Large
Legislative Director

Anna Rush
Legislative Assistant

anna.rush@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-5772

Veterans

Patrick Large
Legislative Director

Welfare

Anna Rush
Legislative Assistant

anna.rush@mail.house.gov
(202) 225-5772

Laura Lee Burkett
Legislative Correspondent

Election Results

2012 GENERAL
Steven Palazzo
Votes: 182,998
Percent: 64.11%
Matthew Moore
Votes: 82,344
Percent: 28.85%
Ron Williams
Votes: 17,982
Percent: 6.3%
2012 PRIMARY
Steven Palazzo
Votes: 60,722
Percent: 73.89%
Ron Vincent
Votes: 15,378
Percent: 18.71%
Cindy Burleson
Votes: 6,081
Percent: 7.4%
2010 GENERAL
Steven Palazzo
Votes: 105,613
Percent: 51.93%
Gene Taylor
Votes: 95,243
Percent: 46.83%
2010 PRIMARY
Steven Palazzo
Votes: 15,556
Percent: 57.15%
Joe Tegerdine
Votes: 11,663
Percent: 42.85%
Prior Winning Percentages
2010 (52%)

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