Around the South for Mar. 28: TN, NC & FL

  Tennessee: Trump sending Hagerty to Japan. Continuing his pattern of dancing with the ones what brung him, especially Southerners, President Trump has nominated Nashvilleprivate equity investor Bill Hagerty to be his ambassador to Japan. Hagerty, who spent three years in Japan working with a business consulting firm, served as finance chairman for Trump in Tennessee as well as a member of Trump’s transition team, reports The Tennessean ……. North Carolina: Wind farms come under scrutiny. Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown (R), whose district includes military bases, is urging a three-year moratorium on wind energy installations. Brown and others contend that wind energy farms could “interfere with radar reception and military flight paths,” reports the News & Observer ……. Florida: Democrats target Ros-Lehtinen. After several decades of winning reelection by 60% or more, US Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R), the dean of the state’s delegation, in 2016 won by a smaller 55% to 45%. At the same time, Hillary Clinton carried her South Florida district with 59%. Thus, AmericanBridge, a pro-Democratic PAC, is running digital ads attacking Ros-Lehtinen for not calling for a “full investigation” of Russian interference in the presidential election, reports Sunshine State News... read more

Around the South for Mar. 24: US, TN & VA

  Nationwide: Friends & foes of Trump almost evenly split. The results of a Harvard-Harris Poll show that 51% of registered voters disapprove of President Trump’s performance in office, to 49% who approve. This is a small uptick for Trump since January, when the same pollsters gave the President a 52% disapproval rating to 48% disapproval, reports The Hill ……. Tennessee: Trump pays homage to Jackson. After speaking to a campaign-style rally of “thousands,” says The Tennessean, President Trump went to The Hermitage, the home of President Andrew Jackson, a populist that Trump often praises, and laid a wreath at Jackson’s tomb. The gathering of some 400 invited guests included some 100 state legislators ……. Virginia: McAuliffe to set veto record. With the veto of 89 bills under his belt, Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) is ready to set a record for the most vetoes of any governor in the state’s history, reports the Washington Post. The previous record was set by Gov. Jim Gilmore (R). The vetoes reflect the partisan difference between McAuliffe, a Democrat, and the Republican majorities in both legislative chambers... read more

Around the South for Mar. 23: CA, FL & AL

  California: Nunes says Trump transition team under surveillance. US Rep. Davin Nunes (R-CA), chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, announced yesterday that “the intelligence community” collected information about members of the Trump transition team, and possibly Donald Trump himself. Nunes said none of the surveillance was related to Russia, but said he was “very concerned” about the surveillance activities ……. Florida: Jolly says Trump “not intellectually qualified.” Former US Rep. David Jolly (R), who is expected to run for office again as a Republican in the Sunshine State, questioned on CNN “whether this president is intellectually qualified to be President of the United States.” Jolly added, “He does not practice in details, nor understands the finer points of domestic or foreign policy.” Former US Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) called Jolly’s claim “absurd.” ……. Alabama: Jones says Bentley to resign in April. State Rep. Mike Jones (R), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, said he expects Gov. Robert Bentley to resign in mid-April, reports AL.com. A Bentley spokesperson, however, said Bentley plans “to finish the race,” as he said in his State of the State Address... read more

Around the South for Mar. 22: GA, FL & OK

    Georgia: Ossoff aims for early victory. “The only way to approach any election,” Democratic congressional candidate Jon Ossoff told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, “is to try to win it outright. That’s what my team and I are trying to do every day.” If he achieves his goal, the election will be decided April 18, without a runoff. However, polls so far haven’t shown him obtaining the majority necessary to avoid a runoff ……. Florida: Nelson leading Scott, but not by much. It’s 38.7% for US Sen. Bill Nelson (D) to 34.4% for potential challenger Governor Rick Scott (R). The poll was taken in early March by St. Leo University ……. Oklahoma: Lawmaker to resign today. State Sen. Ralph Shortey (R), who represents Oklahoma City, is expected to resign today. Shortey, found with a 17-year-old boy in a motel room that “reeked of marijuana,” reported The Oklahoman, has been charged with engaging in child prostitution, prostitution within 1,000 feet of a church, and transporting a minor for... read more

Around the South for Mar. 20: GA, VA & AR

  Georgia: Big TV spending in 6th District race. Spending on the campaigns to fill the vacancy left when US Rep. Tom Price (R) resigned to become secretary of health and human services is already more than $3.7 million, reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The two biggest spenders are state Sen. Dan Moody (R), who has forked out more than $1.4 million for TV buys, and Democrat Jon Ossoff, who has spent some $1.1 million for TV and radio. In addition, the Congressional Leadership Fund (R) has spent $1.1 million for ads attacking Ossoff ……. Virginia: Riggleman bows out. Denver Riggleman, a former intelligence officer and a distiller, has suspended his gubernatorial campaign, citing “business considerations, resource shortages, and family health issues,” reports the Washington Post. Riggleman, 47, was preparing to run a populist-oriented campaign ……. Arkansas: Lee/MLK holiday split. The Arkansaslegislature last week gave final approval to legislation that would delete Confederate General Robert E. Lee from the state holiday currently honoring both Lee and Martin Luther King. Lee will be honored separately in October with a memorial day, but not a state holiday, reports the Washington Post. Only Alabama and Mississippi continue to honor the two men jointly... read more

Around the South for Mar. 17: GA, FL & AR

  Georgia: Deal backs AHCA if … Gov. Nathan Deal (R) says he supports GOP efforts to replace Obamacare, but “We want to be treated fairly,” adding “We’re still looking at the implications” of the current Republican plan, reports the Gwinnett Daily Post. The GOP plan – the American Health Care Act – would change Medicaid, which covers some 2 million Georgians – to a bloc grant program ……. Florida: Scott okays death penalty. Executions in the Sunshine State have been on hold since January 2016, because the US Supreme Court said Florida juries could not impose the death penalty by a simple majority, as the state law then allowed. The bill, signed by Gov. Rick Scott (R) without comment, calls for a unanimous jury vote to impose a death sentence ……. Arkansas: Hutchinson expands wine sales. Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) signed into law a bill that would allow grocery stores to sell wines other than those from small wineries, as the law now stands. Now they can sell a wider selection of wines, reports Arkansas Business. The bill also allows liquor stores to sell food items that complement alcoholic beverages. The measure was supported by Walmart and opposed by liquor stores …….... read more

Around the South for Mar. 16: AHCA, KY & VA

  AHCA: Eight Dixie GOPers oppose TrumpCare. Of the 13 Republican US Representatives who have announced their opposition to the American Health Care Act, the Trump-backed health care reform, eight are from the South, according to The Hill: From Virginia, Dave Brat, Tom Garrett & Rob Wittman; from Florida, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen & Ted Yoho; and Louie Gohmert (TX), Walter Jones (NC), & Thomas Massie (KY). Their reasons varied ……. Kentucky: Paul leads GOP TrumpCare opposition. Dubbing the AHCA “ObamaCare lite,” US Sen. Rand Paul (R) has replaced US Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) as the leading foe of Trump’s proposal. He is concentrating his effort, says The Hill, on a number of conservative US House members, hoping their opposition will force Speaker Ryan to negotiate with them. “There is really no negotiating going on, says Paul; “Ryan is giving up nothing.” ……. Virginia: CAIR fighting Trump’s immigration order. The Council on American Islamic Relations is seeking a restraining order on the ban on certain immigrants from certain Middle East countries, citing the impact in Virginia. CAIR had requested a hearing yesterday, but the Administration asked for a delay, citing the weather (unseasonably nasty), and a federal judge set the hearing for March 21, reports the Washington Post... read more

Around the South for Mar. 15: TN, TX & FL

  Tennessee: Hearing on Syria. US Sen. Bob Corker (R), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will hold a hearing today on the “Human toll After Six Years of War in Syria.” The witnesses will include Syrian and American doctors, plus several executives from organizations providing humanitarian relief in the region ……. Texas: Trump woos Cruz on healthcare. President Trump, anxious to get the House-passed healthcare plan through the Senate, “appears to be courting Sen. Ted Cruz (R),” reports The Hill, noting that the President and First Lady Melania Trump hosted Cruz, Heidi Cruz and their two children for dinner at the White House last week. Cruz said about healthcare, “I do not believe the House bill as currently drafted would pas the Senate. But I also believe it can be fixed.” ……. Florida: Gillum picks up endorsements. Despite reports that he could face problems over misuse of emails, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) has picked up several endorsements. This week, state Rep. Loranne Ausley (D), also from Tallahassee, announced that she is supporting Gillum. Ausley was the (unsuccessful) Democratic nominee for chief financial officer in 2010. In addition, Allison Tant, the former Democratic state chair, is raising funds for Gillum, reports Sunshine State News... read more

Around the South for Mar. 14: US, FL & AR

  US: How states rank. US News and World Report has issued its annual ranking of states, based on spending for health and education, and government efficiency, among other areas. Overall, three Southern states ranked in the top half: Virginia was 11th;Florida 24th and North Carolina 25th.  Trailing the list, ranking 47th through 50th, wereAlabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana ……. Florida: New poll shows Nelson ahead. The second recent poll of Sunshine State voters, taken by long-time Floridapollster Mason-Dixon, showed that in a 2018 US Senate race, incumbent Bill Nelson (D) had 46%, Gov. Rick Scott (R) 41%. Also, President Trump has an approval rating of 43%, an unfavorable rating of 48% ……. Arkansas: State gets lethal execution drug. In January, the state government’s supply of potassium chloride expired. The drug is used in capital punishment to stop the heart. Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) has scheduled the executions of eight inmates in April and the Department of Corrections announced it has a sufficient supply of the drug. These executions will be the first in Arkansassince 2005, reports the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette... read more

Around the South for Mar. 13: TX, VA & OK

  Texas: Federal judges rule against redistricting. A three-judge federal panel ruled, by two to one, that the state legislature intended to limit the influence of minority voters in its latest redistricting plan. The dissenting judge lambasted the Obama Justice Department’s brief in the case, saying that it painted Texas officials “as a bunch of backwoods hayseed bigots,” reported the Washington Post ……. Virginia: Riggleman complains about campaign costs. Denver Riggleman, a businessman and whiskey distiller, is running for governor in the Republican Primary, his maiden venture into politics. “I thought raising $100,000 would be awesome in the first 2½ months,” he told the Washington Post. “But my gosh, it’s a pimple on a hog’s [backside].” …….Oklahoma: McCarville dead at 76. Mike McCarville, a longtime journalist and follower of the state’s politics, died on Mar. 8 after a long illness. McCarville was both a radio commentator and the publisher of his own website, “The McCarville Report.” He was a frequent source for SPR stories on Oklahoma politics... read more

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