Around the South for February 23rd, FL, KY & TN

  Florida: Trump solid with GOPers. An Associated Industries of Florida poll, taken in mid-February, shows President Trump is getting strong support from Republican voters. Sixty-seven percent approve of his performance as president, with 56% strongly approving. Gov. Richard Scott (R), who gets mentioned as a potential challenger to US Sen. Bill Nelson (D) next year, also gets a 67% approval rating, with 41% strongly approving, reports Sunshine State News ……. Kentucky: McConnell talks about graveyards. Speaking to the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce in the Bluegrass State, US Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) compared his job as senate majority leader to being a groundskeeper at a cemetery. “Everybody’s under you, but nobody’s listening,” reports The Hill ……. Tennessee: Alexander defends vaccines. US Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) teamed up with US Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) to defend the use of vaccines, as some Trump appointees appear to have questioned whether childhood vaccinations may cause autism. The bipartisan letter, sent to fellow members of Congress, read in part that immunizations “protect Americans, especially infants and children, against outbreaks of serious and deadly infectious diseases.”... read more

Around the South for Feb. 22: KY, NC & VA

  Kentucky: Bevin backs 3-day limit for pain Rx. Appearing before the state House Judiciary Committee, Gov. Matt Bevin (R) endorsed House Bill 333, which would limit physicians’ prescriptions for opioids and other controlled substances to a three-day supply, which some carefully crafted exceptions. “We’ve got to make it harder to get addicted,” he said, reported the Courier-Journal; “It’s a huge problem nationally. It’s a bigger problem for Kentucky.” ……. North Carolina: Cooper would raise teacher pay. In his recently announced budget, Gov. Roy Cooper (D), just into his first term, proposed a 5% across-the-board raise for teachers. The aim is to reach parity with the national average for teacher pay by the 2021-22 school year. “These aren’t just investments in our teachers; they are lasting investments in our economy and in our own children’s future,” Cooper said, reported HickoryRecord.com ……. Virginia: House speaker retiring. House Speaker William J. Howell (R), who has presided over the state’s House of Delegates for 15 sessions, announced his retirement this week. Often a unifying force for House GOPers and as often a problem for Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Howell called the experience “the greatest professional honor of my life,” reported the Washington Post... read more

Around the South for Feb. 21: SC, TX & VA

  South Carolina: McMaster welcomes Trump big time. “This may be the single best day in the history of South Carolina,” Gov. Henry McMaster (R), the first elected statewide official to endorse Donald Trump for president, said in welcoming President Trump to North Charleston for the rollout of Boeing’s 787-10 Dreamliner. “We are going to makeAmerica great again and greater than ever before,” he added, reports the Aiken Standard ……. Texas: GOPers increase support for Trump. A University of Texas/Texas Tribune survey found that 81% of the state’s Republicans view President Trump favorably, up by 21 points from October. Meanwhile, 83% of Democrats oppose Trump. Overall, 46% of Texans approve of the job Trump is doing, to 44% who disapprove ……. Virginia: Democrats to challenge more GOP lawmakers. In 2015, Democrats challenged 21 incumbent Republicans in the state’s House of Delegates; this year, they plan on challenging 45, including 17 in districts that Hillary Clinton carried last November... read more

Around the South for Feb. 20: FL, OK & VA

  Florida: Acosta picked for Labor Secretary. Alexander Acosta became the first Latino named to his cabinet by President Trump. A graduate of Harvard College and HarvardLaw School, Acosta served on the National Labor Relations Board and as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights under President George W. Bush. He is currently the dean of the Florida International University Law School ……. Oklahoma: Pruitt confirmed to head EPA. By a vote of 52-46 – a wider margin than many of Trump’s cabinet nominees – the Senate confirmed Sooner State Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Democrats urged a delay, so they could examine emails Pruitt must release per a federal judge’s order. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted on a prompt vote, however. “If it wasn’t one thing, it would be another. The effort has been to delay the nomination that they have made controversial as long as possible in order to play to their left-wing base which will not accept the results of the election.” ……. Virginia: Poll favors Democrats in governor’s race. In a Quinnipiac Poll in this year’s gubernatorial race, either of two Democratic candidates would defeat GOP frontrunner Ed Gillespie. Lt. Gov. Frank Northam (D) was favored by 43% to Gillespie’s 35%; former US Rep. Tom Perriello (D) led Gillespie 41% to 35%. Among Democrats only, Northam and Perriello each had 19%. Among Republicans, Gillespie led with 25%, with 14% for three other contenders combined. More than 60% were undecided among both parties’ supporters... read more

Around the South for Feb. 17: SC, NC & GOP

  South Carolina: Senate confirms Mulvaney. By a 51-49 vote, the Senate confirmed the nomination of US Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R), a major foe of excess federal spending, to head the Office of Management and Budget. The narrow confirmation vote has become the norm for President Trump’s cabinet-level appointees ……. North Carolina: Hudson praises Pence. US Rep. Richard Hudson (R) told The Hill that he is hoping that Vice President Mike Pence “has a lot of influence. Obviously, the president is the final decider, but we hope he seeks his advice, because Pence is level-headed – he’s the calm in the storm, and he knows how the process works here on Capitol Hill.” ……. GOP: Three Dixie Republicans vulnerable. The National Republican Congressional Committee has named the ten GOP US Representatives expected to face serious challenges next year. Three Southerners are on the list: Brian Mast (FL), Will Hurd (TX) and Barbara Comstock (VA)... read more

Around the South for Feb. 17: SC, NC & GOP

South Carolina: Senate confirms Mulvaney. By a 51-49 vote, the Senate confirmed the nomination of US Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R), a major foe of excess federal spending, to head the Office of Management and Budget. The narrow confirmation vote has become the norm for President Trump’s cabinet-level appointees ……. North Carolina: Hudson praises Pence. US Rep. Richard Hudson (R) told The Hill that he is hoping that Vice President Mike Pence “has a lot of influence. Obviously, the president is the final decider, but we hope he seeks his advice, because Pence is level-headed – he’s the calm in the storm, and he knows how the process works here on Capitol Hill.” ……. GOP: Three Dixie Republicans vulnerable. The National Republican Congressional Committee has named the ten GOP US Representatives expected to face serious challenges next year. Three Southerners are on the list: Brian Mast (FL), Will Hurd (TX) and Barbara Comstock (VA)... read more

Around the South for Feb. 16: AL, SC & FL

  Alabama: Bentley faces new impeachment threat. Two Republican state Reps. plan to introduce an impeachment resolution into the House of Representatives, bypassing the inactive impeachment committee, reports Al.com. “Public trust toward all of us is at an all-time low,” said state Rep. Corey Harbison (R); “We have to get some answers.” And state Rep. Randall Shedd (R) said, “I just don’t believe the state can stand another two years of this.” ……. South Carolina: Scott skeptical about border tax prospects. USSen. Tim Scott (R), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, has cast doubt on the prospects of passage of a 20% tax on imports, reports The Hill. It’s “going to be very difficult to get it through the Senate … [T]hose who bear the burden the most are the consumers in the country.” Scott is from Charleston, one of the nation’s busiest ports ……. Florida: Scott launches statewide tour. Billing his trip as the “Fighting for Florida’s Jobs” tour,” Gov. Rick Scott (R) stopped in the districts of four state Reps., GOPers all, who voted to abolish two of his  favorite agencies, “Enterprise Florida” and “Visit Florida”, reported Sunshine State News. At each stop, the governor folks how the local legislator voted; for example, in Tamps, Scott said, “I am shocked, right here locally [state Rep.] Shawn Harrison” voted to kill the agencies... read more

Around the South for Feb. 15: SC, MS & AL

  South Carolina: Graham asks if Flynn was “directed.” US Sen. Lindsey Graham (R), concerned about General Michael Flynn’s pre-inaugural phone conversation with the Russian ambassador, told CNN’s Kate Bolduan, “I want to know, did General Flynn do this by himself or was he directed by somebody to do it?” He added, “Congress needs to be informed of what actually General Flynn said.” ……. Mississippi: Thompson calls for independent investigation. US Rep. Bennie Thompson (D), the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, told USA Today, “Now more than ever, we need an independent commission to fully investigate Russia’s interference with the election and any potential Trump campaign ties to the Kremlin.” …….  Alabama: Sewell says write Trump. US Rep. Terri Sewell (D) is leading a campaign urging people to write a letter to President Trump calling for an investigation of voter suppression. Sewell cited the closing of drivers’ licenses offices in Alabama as an example of violating voting rights. She said, “Voting rights are as relevant today as they were 51 years ago,” reported AL.com... read more

Around the South for Feb. 14: TX, TN & NC

  Texas: Castro to decide on Senate bid. US Rep. Joaquin Castro (D) on Saturday told an Austin audience of supporters that he will make a decision in 8 weeks whether or not to challenge US Sen. Ted Cruz (R) in 2018. “Ted Cruz has not spent a single day working for the people of Texas,” Castro said, reported The Statesman ……. Tennessee: Alexander, Corker meet with White House about judgeships. Republican US Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker have met with a White House counsel regarding four current or potential federal district judgeship vacancies in the Volunteer State, reports The Tennessee Journal. The appointments could move the federal judiciary in theVolunteer State in a more conservative direction. Two of the judgeships were filled by either President Clinton or President Obama, the other two by President George W. Bush ……. North Carolina: March protests for eleventh year. An NAACP-sponsored Moral March on Raleigh last Saturday protested President Trump and his policies on LGBT rights, civil rights, gerrymandering, immigration and public education, reported Fox News. The large crowd approximated the size of the previous peak attendance set in 2014... read more

Around the South for Feb. 13: GA, TX & FL

  Georgia: Price member of conservative medical group. Former US Rep. Tom Price (R), a physician now confirmed as Secretary of Health and Human Services, has long been a member of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, reports the Washington Post. The group opposes Medicare, mandatory vaccination and believes that doctors, not the government or insurance companies, should determine the best treatment for their patients ……. Texas: Hensarling would scale back regulations. US Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, has circulated a memo advocating scaling back the rulemaking and enforcement powers of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, including those in the Dodd-Frank Act, passed in 2010, reports the Washington Post ……. Florida: Socialist students “Bash the Fash.” As a demonstration of their opposition to President Trump and his administration, the University of Central Florida’s Knights of Socialism put pictures of the President, Steve Bannon and Jeff Sessions on piñatas and invited passersby, including children, to take a whack at the GOP leaders. When the Sessions’ image was torn in half, Dylan Tyler, the Knights’ leader, said to call an ambulance, with others jeering, “Make sure the ambulance comes here a bit late,” reported Sunshine State News... read more

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