President Donald Trump prepares to speak during a rally at BancorpSouth Arena in Tupelo, Miss., Friday, November 1, 2019. Credit: Eric J. Shelton/Mississippi Today, Report For America

Former President Donald Trump, headlining his “American Freedom Tour,” is scheduled to be in Southaven on June 18.

This visit comes ahead of Mississippi’s June 28 GOP primary runoffs, with two incumbent Republican congressmen struggling to keep their seats. With Trump remaining popular with Mississippi Republicans, his endorsement in either race could be a deciding factor for incumbents or challengers.

Incumbent Rep. Michael Guest trailed Republican challenger Michael Cassidy in unofficial results from Tuesday 46.6% to 47.8%, forcing a runoff with no candidate breaking 50%. Cassidy, a former Navy pilot, tried to run to the right of Guest, including criticizing Guest for voting with Democrats to create a commission to investigate the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by those trying to overturn Trump’s loss to President Joe Biden.

Incumbent Rep. Steven Palazzo is headed to a runoff with Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell. Palazzo led Ezell 31.6% to 25.2% in unofficial results, with the two topping a crowded field of Republican challengers to Palazzo. Palazzo drew numerous challengers in part because he has faced an ethics investigation over allegations he misspent campaign and congressional money and misused his office.

Trump’s only endorsement in Tuesday’s Mississippi midterm primaries was for incumbent 1st District Rep. Trent Kelly, who handily won his primary with 90% of the vote.

Trump carried Mississippi with 58% of the vote in 2020, and to date, candidates he has endorsed and campaigned for here — including Gov. Tate Reeves and Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith twice — have won. On Tuesday, all 16 candidates he endorsed for midterm primaries held by seven states won, although most were, like Kelly, strongly favored to win.

Trump’s American Freedom Tour event is billed as being for Memphis on the group’s website, but is set to be held at the Landers Center in Southaven on June 18 from 8:15 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The event requires pre-registration and it was unclear on the American Freedom website if there will be any free admission, but it also includes special paid access and seating ranging from $1,295 for the “chamber” level to $3,995 for the presidential level.

The daylong event schedule includes roundtable discussions, meet-and-greet and photo ops and speeches. Speakers include Trump, his son Donald Trump Jr., former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, conservative commentators and authors Candace Owens and Dinesh D’Souza.

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Geoff Pender serves as senior political reporter, working closely with Mississippi Today leadership on editorial strategy and investigations. Pender brings 30 years of political and government reporting experience to Mississippi Today. He was political and investigative editor at the Clarion Ledger, where he also penned a popular political column. He previously served as an investigative reporter and political editor at the Sun Herald, where he was a member of the Pulitzer Prize-winning team for Hurricane Katrina coverage. Originally from Florence, Mississippi, Pender is a journalism graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and has received numerous awards throughout his career for reporting, columns and freedom of information efforts.