Republican National Chairman Michael Steele rode his Fire Pelosi Bus into Southaven last week as 200 Republicans cheered with every expectation that Republican state Senator Alan Nunnelee would defeat incumbent Democratic Congressman Travis Childers in November and contribute a vote toward "firing" House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Nunnelee's polls have him in the lead, the district is conservative and disapproving of national Democrats, the incumbent Childers is on the attack, and the wind of the national anti-incumbent mood is at Nunnelee's back.

Steele is traveling the country in a bus emblazed with "Need A Job? Fire Pelosi." Steele said the GOP has established 330 victory centers across the country and is competing in all 50 states with 100 targeted congressional districts. Earlier that day, Republicans announced "A Pledge To America" and Steele said he "was moved by the sentiment but also by the call to action. He told the crowd, "Let's go out and fire Nancy Pelosi. Why don't we go ahead and retire Harry Reid as well?"

But 350 miles south of that bus stop, a new opportunity for Republicans was coming into focus.

A memo from The Tarrance Group, one of the country's top Republican polling firms who conducted polling for Haley Barbour's 2003 and 2007 gubernatorial elections, suggests Republican state Representative Steven Palazzo has a real chance to defeat twenty-year incumbent Democratic Congressman Gene Taylor.

The poll of likely voters in Mississippi's Fourth District conducted September 21-22 shows Taylor below 50% and only 4 points ahead of Palazzo (45% to 41%). Two percent of voters support 3rd party candidates and 12 percent are undecided. The poll has a 5.8% margin of error.

Palazzo leads by 11 points among voters "extremely" likely to vote and by 13 points among those who know both candidates (66% of all voters). According to polling memo, "Nearly half (47%) of voters have already made up their mind that it is time for a new person in office, while only 40% say Taylor deserves re-election. Intensity is clearly on the side of Palazzo. While 73% of his likely voters are 'extremely' likely to vote in November, only 51% of Taylor voters are 'extremely" likely.'" The poll reports 64 percent of Fourth District voters disapprove of Democratic President Barack Obama's job performance.

Nationally, Republicans smell blood in the water and are increasing the number of targeted seats. Democrats need 218 seats to hold the majority and with a few additional seats to cushion them, they are focusing all their money and resources into that majority block hoping that the GOP will spread their efforts thin. That means Democrats will be cutting many of their incumbents lose to fend for themselves. While that gives hope to Democrats in Washington to preserve a majority, it worries those Democrats who are being left for defeat.

If Republicans add resources to Mississippi's Fourth and the Democrats withdraw them, Palazzo could surge to a victory. There is reason to believe the Democrats could withdraw because effectively, they already lost this seat.

The Biloxi Sun Herald reported Fourth District Congressman Gene Taylor said he will not vote for Nancy Pelosi again.

In past years, Taylor had bucked the Democratic Party leadership several times voting for John Murtha for Speaker rather than Dick Gephardt or Nancy Pelosi. But when Democrats retook the majority in 2007, he voted for Pelosi to loud Democratic applause. Democratic leadership rewarded him with a subcommittee chairmanship. Whether he thinks the Democrats will not maintain the majority, or whether he thinks his reelection is priority over his subcommittee, or whether Palazzo has just show him the light, this district - win or lose - is one more step against Pelosi.

The thunderous applause Taylor received from his Democratic colleagues for voting for Pelosi is doing him no favors in this conservative district. George W. Bush carried the district in 2000 and 2004 with 64 and 68 percent of the vote respectively; John McCain carried it in 2008 with 67 percent of the vote. Taylor's strong military background and independent nature has helped him post very strong numbers in each of his reelection bids. But like Taylor, Palazzo is a good fit for the district.

Palazzo of Biloxi currently serves as a State Representative (District 116) from Harrison County. After serving in the Marine Corps Reserves in the Middle East during the Persian Gulf War, Palazzo returned to Mississippi with a firsthand view of taxation concerns facing Americans working abroad. He and his wife founded an accounting firm specializing in expatriate taxation, which now serves more than 2000 clients in 25 countries. Palazzo now serves in the Mississippi National Guard and has built a reputation in the House as a committed low-tax, job-focused conservative.

If the GOP can win with both Nunnelee and Palazzo, their next drive through Mississippi will be a victory lap.

Brian Perry is a partner in a public affairs firm. Reach him at