Republican Rep. Steven Palazzo looks headed for a win in his primary fight with former Democratic Rep. Gene Taylor, though the race still hadn’t been called early Wednesday morning.
With all precincts reporting, Palazzo had 50.5 percent of the vote, while Taylor took 43 percent.
The longtime Democratic congressman lost in the 2010 GOP wave to Palazzo, but this year Taylor wanted a rematch with an "R" beside his name. He switched parties to run in the primary and was relying on his personal connections with voters to triumph over the built-in disadvantage of being a former Democrat running in a GOP primary.
He ran a scrappy, underfunded campaign that relied largely on face-to-face contacts with voters at church fairs and parades and persistent goodwill from constituents who still remembered and supported him from his 20 years in Congress.
Taylor hammered Palazzo for his support for the Budget Control Act of 2011 that created the automatic cuts to defense and discretionary spending known as sequestration. Taylor said he would have opposed that.
But Palazzo hit him for his vote for Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) as Speaker of the House, among others, and his built-in advantage as a longstanding Republican ultimately helped boost him ahead of Taylor by the end of the night.