Around the South for Feb.19: TN, OK & VA

Tennessee: Blackburn campaign slams Corker talk. Andrea Bozek, spokeswoman for US Rep., and US Senate candidate, Marsha Backburn (R), said that talk of US Sen. Bob Corker (R) reconsidering his retirement announcement of last September and seeking reelection did not concern the Blackburn campaign. She added that the talk that anyone who says Blackburn cannot defeat former Gov. Phil Bredesen (D) is “a plain sexist pig” and that the campaign was unconcerned about the maneuvering of “these ego-driven, tired old men,” reports The Tennessee Journal. A poll recently published in Politico showed Bredesen with 47% to Blackburn’s 45% ……. Oklahoma: Holt wins Oklahoma mayor’s race. State Sen. David Holt (R), a former chief of staff for out-going Mayor Mick Cornett, won Tuesday’s mayoral election with 78% of the vote. Holt made history as the first American Indian of the city, and at 39, he will take office in April as the youngest mayor of a city with more than 500,000 inhabitants, reports Channel 9 News ……. Virginia: Dems, GOP cooperate on some but not all proposals. The Republican chairman of the House of Delegates Terry Kilgore said last week that he favored expanding Medicaid, adding that it is “the right thing to do” for his district. Kilgore’s actions mean that the legislature is likely to expand Medicare with bipartisan support. But don’t look for the Ds and Rs to work together on new gun legislation, reports the Washington Post. The GOPers will not let any restrictions on gun ownership get out of committee; they “would rather fight than give an inch of compromise” on this hot-button issue... read more

Around the South for Feb. 16: FL, VA & TX

Florida: Scott won’t rule out new gun laws. When CNN’s Wolf Blitzer asked Gov. Rick Scott (R) if he was ready to enact new restrictions on guns, Scott replied that “everything is on the table.” Later he added, “We cannot let this pass without making something happen … it’s my goal that this will never happen again in my state.” …… Virginia: Kaine tweets on DACA. “Our bipartisan plan to protect Dreamers from deportation got *15* more votes than the Trump plan,” US Sen. Tim Kaine (D) tweeted. He called Trump’s plan a “cruel and restrictive plan – and it failed. Bigly.” ……. Texas: Johnson gives POW mementos to Smithsonian. US Rep. Sam Johnson (R), 87, donated a tin cup and a toothpaste tube to the National Museum of American history. Johnson was a combat pilot in Korea and Vietnam and spent some seven years in the “Hanoi Hilton,” 42 months in solitary confinement. He said he used the two items to communicate with fellow prisoners, reports the Dallas Morning News... read more

Around the South for Feb. 15: TN. TX & SC

Tennessee: Corker running again? During a period of earlier enmity between the two, US Sen. Bob Corker (R) said President Trump was putting the country “on the road to war.” And Trump, no stranger to conflict, tweeted that Corker “couldn’t get elected dogcatcher.” But now, reports the Washington Post, the two men have a warmer relationship and Corker is reconsidering his retirement decision and may run again after all. That does not sit well with the hardliners in the Senate Conservatives Fund, who conducted and released their own poll showing Corker would lose to US Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R) in the GOP primary. Stay tuned! ……. Texas: Poe wants to reform ADA. In an op-ed in The Hill, US Rep. Ted Poe (R), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, contends that law suits for insignificant violations of the Americans with disability Act (ADA) has hurt small businesses. He cited suits over the placement of a toilet paper dispenser and another over the placement of urinals. As a solution, he recommends passage of H.R. 620, which would allow defendants a reasonable period of time to fix a problem before they can be sued ……. South Carolina: Would Mulvaney vote for Trump budget? At a Senate Budget Committee hearing, Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Mick Mulvaney said that if he were still a congressman from South Carolina, he “probably would have found enough shortcomings” to vote against the budget, reports The Hill. The OMB promptly issued a clarification, saying that Mulvaney was referring to an earlier budget proposal in his remarks at the hearing, but that he would... read more

Around the South for Feb. 14: TN, VA & DC

Tennessee: Corker has mixed views on infrastructure. US Sen. Bob Corker (R), one of the Senate’s “go-to” guys on financial policy, said in a statement that his home state managed its infrastructure maintenance while remaining debt free. He added, however, “I am open to alternative proposals and applaud the administration for envisioning a new way to leverage many of our existing resources to spur further state infrastructure investment.” ……. Virginia: Northam meets Trump. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) last year called Donald Trump a “narcissistic maniac.” This week, however, Northam was one of eight governors who met with President Trump at the White House. Said Trump to Northam, reports the Washington Post, “I think you’re going to do a great job.” ……. Washington: The Hill lists 36 potential Democratic 2020 contenders. Six Southern Democrats were in the mix: Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates (GA); New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu (La); former HUD Secretary Julian Castro (TX); Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban (TX); US Sen. Tim Kaine (VA); and former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe... read more

Around the South for Feb. 12: AL, GA & KY

Alabama: Battle raises more money than Ivey. Huntsville Mayor Tommy Battle (R) raised $100,910 in January, reported al.com, while Gov. Kay Ivey (R) raised $89,029. The third place GOP gubernatorial candidate, state Sen. Bill Hightower, raised $33,270. But Ivey has $2.05 million cash on hand to Battle’s $1.2 million and Hightower’s $631,980 ……. Georgia: Deal announces revenue increase. Gov. Nathan Deal (R) announced that tax revenues for January were up 16.7% from January a year ago. The biggest boost was in individual income tax collections, which were up 27% from January a year ago, reports the Gwinnett Daily Post ……. Kentucky: Beshear orders Bevin to release analysis. State Attorney General Andy Beshear (D) said Gov. Matt Bevin (R) broke Kentucky law when he withheld an actuarial analysis of his pension plan, and said the governor should release the report. If Bevin declines to release the report, he will have to challenge Deal’s order in court, reports the Chief Investment Officer... read more

Around the South for Feb. 9: DC, SC & TN

  Washington: Conservatives balk at big spending deal. The Senate measure that seemed to signal a two-year wait before another risk of a government shutdown has drawn the ire of a number of Southern lawmakers (R), including US Sen. Bob Corker (TN) and US Reps. David Brat (VA), Mo Brooks (AL) and Matt Gaetz (FL). “It’s a Christmas tree on steroids,” Brat told The Hill ……. South Carolina: Clyburn celebrates Black History Month. US Rep. Jim Clyburn, third-ranking member of the House Democratic Leadership and a veteran civil rights activist, commemorated in a statement the “aggressive and assertive without being violent” activism of such civil rights icons as Rosa Parks, Septima Clark, and students who staged “sit-ins” at lunch counters in Greensboro, NC and Orangeburg, SC. “The groundwork was done by many before us, some of whom paid the ultimate sacrifice.” ……. Tennessee: Roe will seek reelection. US Rep. Phil Roe (R), who had earlier expressed doubts about whether he would run again this November, yesterday announced that he will run for a sixth term this fall, reports Roll Call. When first elected in 2008, Roe campaigned against anyone serving more than ten years in Congress, but cited his chairmanship of the Veterans Affairs Committee as one reason for his decision to seek another term... read more

Around the South for Feb. 8: FL, KY & VA

  Florida: Putnam, Graham lead in primary polls. According to a pair of voter surveys by Mason-Dixon released this week, state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam takes first place among Republicans in the gubernatorial sweepstakes. Putnam had 27%, followed by US Rep. Ron DeSantis with 23%. State House Speaker Richard Corcoran, not yet an official candidate, had 7%. Among Democrats, former US Rep. Gwen Graham was first with 20%, followed by 17% for former Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine. In third place was Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum with 10% and in last place, Orlando businessman Chris King at 4% ……. Kentucky: McConnell forecasts free-flowing immigration debate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) told a reporter that he couldn’t be specific about a DACA bill’s provisions “because there’s no specific plan here.” He added, “The Senate is going to work its will, and I hope that we will end up passing something,” reports Roll Call ……. Virginia: Comstock contradicts Trump on shutdown. At a White House meeting to discuss the President Trump’s support for a government shutdown if immigration isn’t curtailed, US Rep. Barbara Comstock (R) told the president, “We don’t need a government shutdown… both sides have learned that a government shutdown was bad; it wasn’t good for them,”  reported the Washington Post... read more

Around the South for Feb. 7: OK, KY & AR

Oklahoma: Fallin SOTS calls for tax hikes. Instead of using her last State of the State address to list her accomplishments, Gov. Mary Fallin (R), the state’s first female governor, called on lawmakers to increase taxes on cigarettes, gasoline and petroleum production in order to increase teacher pay by $5,000 a year and to stabilize the state budget, reports the Tulsa World. Dubbing her legislative package “Step Up Oklahoma,” Fallin pointed out that a group of business and civic leaders “has endorsed both reforms and revenues.” ……. Kentucky: Paul tells it like it is. US Sen. Rand Paul (R) tweeted Tuesday morning, “Today I’m holding a hearing entitled: The ‘Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Ways of Funding Government.’ … It’s high time someone says – enough is enough – and fixes our terrible, no good, very bad budgetary process.” ……. Arkansas: Cotton eyes ayatollahs’ wealth. US Sen. Tom Cotton (R) has introduced the Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act to “require the Secretary of the Treasury to report on the estimated total assets under direct or indirect control by certain senior Iranian leaders and other figures,” reports Arkansas Online. Cotton believes in making transparent the wealth accumulated by Iran’s leaders. The bill is co-sponsored by USSen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)... read more

Around the South for Feb. 6: MS, LA & AL

  Mississippi: Bryant “not interested” in Cochran seat. When Gov. Phil Bryant (R) came to Washington for the State of the Union, both Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and President Donald Trump spoke with him about appointing himself to the Senate seat of Thad Cochran (R), 80, in the event the ailing lawmaker decides to retire. But sources close to Bryant, reports the Clarion-Ledger, say the governor is not interested in going to Washington. McConnell and Trump are worried that state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R), a hard-right maverick, might win the seat, causing trouble for the GOP in the Senate and the White House ……. Louisiana: Edwards most popular Democrat. Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) got the highest favorable rating among the nation’s Democratic governors. The Morning Consult quarterly survey showed a positive rating for Edwards of 56%, compared with a negative rating of 27%. Meanwhile, in the latest campaign finance report, Edwards had more than $5 million on hand for an expected reelection bid in 2019 ……. Alabama: Ivey third most popular governor. The Morning Consult showed that Gov. Kay Ivey (R), with an approval rating of 64%, ranks third in popularity among the nation’s governors. Ivey came in behind Maryland’s Larry Hogan (R) at 66% and Massachusetts’s Charlie Baker (R), with 69%... read more

Around the South for Feb. 5: TN, OK & TX

  Tennessee: Mayor acknowledges an affair. No, it’s not another man behaving badly. This time, it’s Mayor Megan Barry, the CEO of Nashville, who admitted to having sexual relations with the head of her security detail, Police Sgt. Robert Forrest Jr. Although it was consensual and not harassment, the affair got little sympathy from The Tennessean, which editorialized, “In pursuing this affair, she had no empathy for her family or that of Forrest.” The paper also noted with apparent irony that she was a “former corporate ethics and compliance executive” and that she “imperiled her ambitious agenda.” What’s sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose ……. Oklahoma: Lamb, Stitt lead in gubernatorial fundraising. In the Republican contest for governor, Lt. Gov. Todd Lamb began 2018 with $2.6 million on hand, followed by Tulsa businessman Kevin Stitt, with $1.6 million. Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett had $660,000, reports The Oklahoman. On the Democratic side, former state Attorney General Drew Edmondson had $311,000 ……. Texas: Will tax reform act turn TX, FL & NC blue? According to an opinion piece in the New York Times, the GOP-enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act could drive a lot of young – and mostly Democratic – voters from high real estate tax states like New York, New Jersey and California into Southern states where real property taxes are much lower. The column pointed out that from 2012 to 2016, Texas gained 230,000 new residents, Florida gained 214,000 and North Carolina 102,000, even without the new law. Word to Republicans who passed the law: Be careful what you wish for!... read more

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