Around the South for October 23rd: TN, MS, & SC

Tennessee: Early voting numbers sky high.  The first returns from early voting in Tennessee show turnout only a bit off the pace set during the 2016 presidential election.  Other southern states such as Georgia have reported similarly high numbers, but pundits are not yet sure if that means a ‘blue wave’ is forming or if the GOP base is motivated to get out the vote.  Mississippi: Dem reports highest fundraising total.  Democrat Mike Espy, one of the three main candidates gunning for the state’s U.S. Senate seat held by Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R), has reported the highest fundraising total in the race in the 3rd quarter of 2018.  Hyde-Smith and Republican firebrand Chris McDaniel could be cannibalizing one another’s support as the ‘jungle primary’ race heads toward election day.  South Carolina: Dem candidate for school superintendent drops out.  Just weeks before election day, Democrat Israel Romero has dropped out of the race for state school superintendent after it was found he spent time in prison for a felony in 2008.  That charge, for unauthorized practice of law, would render him unable to serve if elected.  Michele Phillips, a sixth-grade teacher at Orange Grove Charter School in Charleston has launched a write-in campaign, but it would appear that Republican Molly Spearman will win a second term with relative... read more

Around the South for October 22nd: FL, AR, & WV

Florida: Biden to attend trio of rallies.  Former Vice President (and possible 2020 presidential candidate) Joe Biden will be in the Sunshine State this week for three rallies to support U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum.  He will appear at colleges in Tampa, Jacksonville, and Orlando, hoping to encourage young voters to get out the vote ahead of the extremely tight midterms.  Arkansas: Court kills term limits proposal.  The Arkansas Supreme Court has ordered state elections officials not to count votes for a ballot measure that looked to impose strict term limits on state legislators.  The court found that thousands of signatures submitted by supporters to get the proposal on the ballot were invalid.  The law would have limited legislators to two four-year terms in the Senate and three two-year terms in the House, with a total cap of 10 years in office.  West Virginia(& Alabama): Saban endorses Manchin.  Living legend Nick Saban, head football coach at Alabama and West Virginia native, has endorsed Sen. Joe Manchin in his re-election bid.  The two men grew up together in Fairmont,... read more

Around the South for October 18th: SC, MS, & FL

South Carolina: Harris visits to rally Dems.  U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) will be in town this week to try and rally the Democratic base ahead of the November midterms.  With stops in Columbia and Greenville, the senator may also be testing the waters for a 2020 presidential bid.  Mississippi: Professor urges harassment of Republicans.   James Thomas, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Mississippi, has come under fire for tweets that urged Democrats to harass Republican lawmakers in public.  “Put your whole damn fingers in their salads,” he wrote. “Take their apps and distribute them to the other diners. Bring boxes and take their food home with you on the way out. They don’t deserve your civility.”  Republican legislators have called for Thomas’ firing.  Florida: Polling shows tight races.  In the first major polling since Hurricane Michael devastated much of Florida’s panhandle, Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis remain statistically tied in the race for governor.  The St. Pete Polls poll also shows Republican Gov. Rick Scott with a two-point lead over Democratic incumbent U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson in an equally tight... read more

Around the South for October 11th: SC, FL, & TX

South Carolina: Haley resigns from UN post.  Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley resigned this week as the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N.  The move came as a shock to many, and kicked off a flurry of rumors as to why she suddenly felt the need to step down.  Some think she’s already pointing to 2024 as her chance to run for the White House herself.  Florida: Hurricane Michael approaches.  A state of emergency has been declared throughout much of the Sunshine State as  Hurricane Michael barrels toward the state, where it is expected to make landfall Wednesday evening.  The storm will be among the biggest to hit the panhandle in over a decade, and will also affect Alabama, Florida, and the Carolinas as it makes its way back eastward.  Texas: Abbot boasts big fundraising haul.  Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) has one of the largest war chests in the history, with $26.7 still on hand after spending $7 million on his re-election bid during the last fundraising period.  His opponent, Democrat Lupe Valdez, raised just $680,000 and spent just $600,000 during the latest... read more

Around the South for October 9th: TN, AL, & KY

Tennessee: Taylor Swift slams Blackburn.  In a rare showing of political activism, pop/country music superstar Taylor Swift in an Instagram post slammed Republican candidate for Senate Marsha Blackburn, while endorsing her opponent, Democrat Phil Bresden.  It marks the first time Swift has gotten political, and her legions of young fans are sure to be paying attention ahead of a close November race.  Alabama: Congressman floated as potential Air Force head.  U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers, (R-Saks) has been proposed as a potential replacement for current Secretary of the Air Force Heather Wilson, who has recently fallen out of favor with President Donald Trump because of opposition to his space force initiative.  Rogers, who is a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee and chairman of its Strategic Forces Subcommittee, has been a staunch supporter of Trump and the space force idea in the past.  Kentucky: Barr calls out opponent for dodging debates.  U.S. Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) has called out his opponent, former fighter pilot Amy McGrath, for dodging debates ahead of their tight election matchup in November.  So far McGrath, a Democrat, has only agreed to one debate, while Barr has pushed for as many as seven.  In 2016 Barr agreed to just two debates against opponent Nancy Jo Kemper, who repeatedly called for... read more

Around the South for October 4th: MS, TX, & SC

Mississippi: Trump supports Hyde-Smith.  Because of Mississippi’s election rules, November in the state will feature a jungle primary to decide the state’s next senator.  Incumbent Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, the presumed favorite, was appointed earlier this year, and this week President Donald Trump visited the state to voice his support for her.  That angered supporters of firebrand Chris McDaniel, another Republican who has not been shy about gunning for ‘establishment candidates.’  Democrat Mike Espy is also in the running.  Texas: Pence to stump for Cruz.  Vice President Mike Pence will head to the Lone Star State next week to campaign for Sen. Ted Cruz, who is facing a tight contest against Democratic opponent Beto O’Rourke.  Pence will also stump for Dallas’ U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, also in a difficult battle with Colin Allred for his seat.  South Carolina: State legislators prepare for special session.  South Carolina’s state legislature will be back in Columbia this month to decide whether to sustain or override $35.8 million in budget vetoes by Gov. Henry McMaster, including almost $16 million for health care services.  They will also debate removing millions of dollars in college spending from the state’s budget, a move that McMaster has blasted as “open(ing) the door to misspending and even corruption.”... read more

Around the South for October 3rd: TX, AL, & AR

Texas: O’Rourke apologizes for sexist comments.  Upstart candidate for senate Beto O’Rourke this week was forced to apologize for comments he made about busty actresses when reviewing the Broadway musical “The Will Rogers Follies” all the way back in 1991.  The then-19 year old criticized the casting, describing the female cast-members as “perma-smile actresses whose only qualifications seem to be their phenomenally large breasts and tight buttocks.”  He has apologized for the comments, saying, “I am ashamed of what I wrote and I apologize. There is no excuse for making disrespectful and demeaning comments about women.”  Alabama: Voters upset with Jones’ ‘No’ vote.  Alabamians are upset with U.S. Sen. Doug Jones (D) for saying he plans on voting against the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.  The state’s Republican Party immediately sent out a release slamming the senator, saying that “His no vote betrays our state and his actions highlight his disingenuous promise to represent the majority of Alabamians.”  Arkansas: Trio of congressmen oppose minimum wage hike.  Three Republican congressmen, French Hill, Bruce Westerman and Rick Crawford, have announced their opposition to a ballot measure that would gradually raise the state’s minimum wage by $2.50 an hour to $11 an hour by 2021.  The three each have Democratic opposition in November, and all of their opponents support the... read more

Around the South for October 1st: SC, VA, & AR

South Carolina: Graham becomes GOP darling.  U.S. Sen. Lindsay Graham became a favorite of Republicans nationwide last week following the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh, where he spoke angrily about the Democrats’ ‘witch hunt’ that has led to multiple claims that Kavanaugh sexually assaulted women over 30 years ago.  Virginia: Kaine, Stewart debate.  The battle for U.S. Senate between incumbent Tim Kaine (D) and challenger Corey Stewart (R) has gotten testy, with the two trading barbs at a recent debate.  Stewart called Kaine a “bitter partisan who gets nothing done,” while Kaine defended his record, pointing to the nearly 17 pieces of legislation he has helped author that President Donald Trump has signed.  Arkansas: State Sen. sentenced to prison time.  Former state Sen. Jon Woods of Springdale has been sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison for his role in a kickback scam that saw him attempt to steer state grants to a local college, where his friend was the president, then receive kickback funds as a... read more

Around the South for September 27th: FL, SC, & AL

Florida: Gillum leads in the polls.  Democratic candidate for governor Andrew Gillum has maintained a 4(ish) point lead in the polls over Republican opponent Ron DeSantis for the entire month of September.  Now with millions of dollars pouring in from rich Democratic mega-donors such as California progressive billionaire Tom Steyer, he’ll hope to maintain that advantage through election day.  South Carolina: Judge rules to keep corruption findings secret.  A Circuit Court judge this week ruled to keep findings on corruption in South Carolina’s General Assembly under wraps.  Critics have called for the report’s release, saying that the public deserves to know just how deep the corruption runs – already four lawmakers have resigned due to misconduct charges.  Alabama: Ivey refuses to debate.  Republican Governor Kay Ivey is refusing to debate her Democrat opponent ahead of November’s elections, saying that only “the media and my opponent” care about seeing a debate.  Said opponent, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox, rebutted that “I do not believe that you should hide from the people who pay your... read more

Around the South for September 24th: NC, TN, & GA

North Carolina: Gov. calls for special session.  Governor Roy Cooper (D) has called for a special legislative session to fund initial recovery needs for those impacted by Hurricane Florence.  The storm killed 31, and recovery costs are expected to run in the billions of dollars.  The session would begin in early October.  Tennessee: NRA endorses Blackburn.  U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R) still trails Democratic opponent Phil Bredesen in their race for U.S. Senate, but she got a boost last week in the form of an endorsement from the National Rifle Association.  Bredesen was quick to release an ad expressing his support of the 2nd Amendment, showing that gun control (or lack thereof) is a big issue in the Volunteer State.  Georgia: State named #1 for business.  A report from Area Development has named the Peach State as the number one state for business for the fifth straight year.  “Georgia’s position as a leader in economic development is not by chance, it has everything to do with strong leadership from Gov. Deal,” said GDEcD Development Commissioner Pat... read more

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