Around the South for May 26: MS, TN & VA

  Mississippi: Wicker wants bigger Navy. “It is clear that our current fleet of 275 ships is insufficient to address the security challenges we face today,” US Sen. Roger Wicker (R), said in opening a hearing on the US Navy fleet. “We want to help and we want to lead in this regard,” continued Wicker, who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee’s sea power subcommittee. Some estimate that the goal of 355 ships, supported by Navy officials and industry executives, could be reached by the 2040s, but the top Navy official, Adm. John Richardson, wants to reach that goal by the 2020s, reports The Hill ……. Tennessee: Roe opposes campus restrictions on free speech. “As a Vietnam-era veteran, I saw first hand how colleges and universities served as hotbeds for free speech and debate,” US Rep. Phil Roe (R) wrote in an op/ed in The Hill. “Recently, however, free speech has come under attack at the very same institutions,” he continued, citing the shouting down of speakers, withdrawal of invitations to speakers and “so-called free speech zones … to keep students from expressing their thoughts outside of restricted areas.” Roe, who is a member of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, has introduced a resolution designed to protect the First Amendment on college campuses ……. Virginia: More women running for legislature. In this year’s elections for 100 seats in the House of Delegates, 61 women are running, about 30% of the field of candidates, thought to be a record, reports the Washington Post. Fifty of the women are Democrats, 11 are Republicans... read more

Around the South for May 25: AR, TX & VA

  Arkansas: Hutchinson will seek reelection. To no one’s surprise, Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) announced last week that he will run for a second term in 2018. In a news release, the governor stated, “I am running for reelection to expand on our progress from pro-growth tax reform to marketing our state to the world to create more jobs here at home.” His previous positions include US Representative, Drug Enforcement Agency director and Homeland Security undersecretary ……. Texas: Voter ID law watered down. In response to a federal court order declaring its previous law requirement a photo ID to vote, both chambers of the Texas legislature have passed new versions of the law designed to pass muster with the courts. The version passed in both the Senate and House versions of the amended law allows persons without a photo ID to vote by signing an affidavit explaining why they don’t have a photo ID. The House version, passed by 93 to 55, varied from the federal court order in that it provides for a Class A misdemeanor for lying on the affidavit ……. Virginia: Democratic lite guv race could make history. Depending on the outcome of the June 13 primary, Virginia could elect its first African American to a statewide office since Douglas Wilder was elected lieutenant governor in 1985 if former federal prosecutor Justin Fairfax wins. Or the state could elect its first woman to a statewide office if lobbyist and party activist Susan Platt wins. Also running is former federal prosecutor Gene Rossi, who is largely self-financed, reports the Washington Post. All three are from Northern Virginia,... read more

Around the South for May 24: GA, NC & TX

  Georgia: 6th District polls mixed. The last three voter surveys, one by the Jon Ossoff (D) campaign, one by the Karen Handel (R), and one independent, all showed close races, but none of them gave either candidate 50% or more of the vote. Perhaps as a result, the money spent on television is staggering, with one estimate that by the June 20 vote, $50 million or more will be spent on political TV ads in the race ……. North Carolina: District lines held unconstitutional. The US Supreme Court, in a 5-3 decision, held that the Tar Heel legislature’s congressional maps for two districts, the 1st and 12th, were drawn to include more African-Americans than was necessary to meet Voting Rights Act requirements, thus diminishing the influence of black voters. One critic, from the Heritage Foundation, commented, “You can use race a little bit, but you can’t use it too much. It has to be just right,” reported The Hill ……. Texas: Challenger says Lamar Smith out of touch. Joseph Kopser (D), a Bronze Star veteran of the war in Iraq, is challenging 16-term US Rep. Lamar Smith (R). Kopser is supported by 314 Action, a group of science professionals interested in public policy. Kopser says Smith, who chairs the House Science, Space and Technology, is out-of-touch with science; Smith recently said climate change is based more on “exaggerations, personal agendas and questionable predictions than on scientific method,” reports Roll Call... read more

Around the South for May 22: SC, AL & TN

  South Carolina: Gowdy expected to chair Oversight Committee. When US Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) leaves Congress in late June, his position as chairman of the House Oversight Committee is likely to go to US Rep. Trey Gowdy (R), reports Politico. The Committee is in charge of the House investigation of charges that President Trump pressured the FBI to drop its investigation of Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security advisor. Gowdy is a former prosecutor ……. Alabama: Roby to get primary challenge. US Rep. Martha Roby (R) angered many Trump supporters last year when, after the “Access Hollywood” video surfaced showing Trump making crude remarks about women, Roby called on Trump to step aside. At that moment, says state Rep. Barry Moore (R), “I had so many people come to me” urging him to run against Roby. Roby has responded that she strongly supports the President’s legislative agenda, reports Roll Call. Last fall, due to an 11% protest vote for a third candidate, Roby was held to less than 50% of the vote ……. Tennessee: Hagerty slated for confirmation. After sailing through a one-hour long hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, chaired by fellow Tennessean Bob Corker (R), Nashville businessman Bill Hagerty is expected to receive quick confirmation as President Trump’s ambassador to Japan. Most of the questions, reported The Tennessean, concerned opening Japan to more US exports. Of note, Hagerty speaks fluent Japanese... read more

Around the South for May 19: LA, FL & VA

  Louisiana: Kennedy on Trump/Comey/Russia. Freshman US Sen. John Kennedy (R) told Politico, “The truth will set you free, but sometimes it will make you feel like hell. We need to go get the truth and let the chips fall where they may.” ……. Florida: Ros-Lehtinen reacts to the latest White House hoo-hah: US Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R), who is not running for reelection, said in an interview, also with Politico, “Republican members are divided between a very dedicated electorate – who will stand by Trump through thick and thin – and their reading of the tea leaves … They’re very worried about how this plays out for them in their districts.” ……. Virginia: Perriello leads Northam. A survey of likely Democratic voters in Virginia by the Washington Post-Schar School found that former US Rep. Tom Perriello leads Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam by 40% to 38%... read more

Around the South for May 18: KY, TN & NC

  Kentucky: McConnell wants focus on agenda. “I think we could do with a little less drama from the White House on a lot of things,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R) told Bloomberg News. “so we could focus on our agenda, which is deregulations, tax reform, repealing and replacing Obamacare.” ……. Tennessee: White House needs control. “The White House has got to do something soon to bring itself under control and in order …” US Sen. Bob Corker (R), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told Bloomberg. “Obviously they’re in a downward spiral right now and they’ve got to figure out a way to come to grips [with] all that’s happening.” ……. North Carolina: Tillis hospitalized. US Sen. Thom Tillis (R) collapsed while running in the annual American Council of Life Capitol Challenge race, reported CNN. Tillis tweeted, “Hey everybody. I’m fine. Just running about 2 and half miles in, got overheated.”... read more

Around the South for May 17: TX, SC & VA

  Texas: Cornyn withdraws as contender to head FBI. US Sen. John Cornyn (R), whose name was prominent among those the Justice Department was considering to replace FBI Director James Comey, has backed out from consideration for the post. Cornyn, the second ranking Republican in the Senate, was opposed by GOP senators, who feared his nomination would bring about a contentious partisan confirmation hearing. “[T]he best way I can serve is continuing to fight for a conservative agenda in the US Senate,” Cornyn said in a statement …….South Carolina: Norman leads GOP congressional runoff. In yesterday’s Republican runoff to choose a successor to former 5th District US Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R), former state Rep. Ralph Norman got the most votes, but his margin over state Rep. Tom Pope was less than 1%, so a recount is automatic under state law. The winner will face Democrat Archie Parnell, a retired Goldman Sachs executive, in a June 20 General Election …….Virginia: Gillespie leads in latest poll. A survey of Virginia Republican voters by the Washington Post-Schar School found that 38% favor former RNC chairman Ed Gillespie, 18% are forPrince William County supervisor Corey Stewart, and 15% for Virginia Beach state Sen. Frank Wagner... read more

Around the South for May 16: KY, NC & AL

  Kentucky: Paul opposes Session order. US Sen. Rand Paul (R), a small-l libertarian, issued a statement last week critical of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ instruction to district attorneys to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense,” including drug-related cases. Paul said that the administration “should treat our nation’s drug epidemic as a health crisis and less as a ‘lock’em up and throw away the key’ problem.” ……. North Carolina: Supremes uphold ruling against voter ID law. The US Supreme Court upheld a lower court ruling that voided the Tar Heel State’s law requiring a picture ID for voting. Chief Justice Roberts, however, issued a statement that the high court’s decision was not on the merits of the North Carolina law, but on confusion over who was bringing the suit, begun under Republican Gov. Pat McCrory but opposed by his successor, Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper ……. Alabama: Brooks running for Senator. US Rep. Mo Brooks (R) announced his candidacy for the US Senate seat currently held by US Sen. Luther Strange (R), who was appointed by former Gov. Robert Bentley (R). Brooks said he was running because “America’s status as the greatest nation in world history is at risk.” Brooks is the fifth Republican to enter the race... read more

Around the South for May 15: AR, KY & GA

  Arkansas: Boozman praises Comey. “I am grateful for James Comey’s integrity and service during his tenure as the bureau’s director,” US Sen. John Boozman (R) said in a statement last week. He added, “Americans deserve a full explanation as to the circumstances of the decision to immediately remove Mr. Comey from his post” as FBI director ……. Kentucky: Paul alleges Obama Administration spied on lawmakers. After revealing that he had evidence that he had been the subject of surveillance by the Obama Administration, US Sen. Rand Paul (R) said last week on Fox News that another senator told him that he suspected he was spied on by the previous administration. “It’s about your own government spying on the opposition party,” said Paul; “That would be enormous if it’s true.” ……. Georgia: Yates touted for gubernatorial run. After being in the spotlight last week for her testimony about the investigation of Russian involvement in the US election, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates is the subject of renewed interest by Georgia Democrats who want her to run for governor next year. “Sally Yates’ calm and strong demeanor showed me she could be a great governor of Georgia,” said Tharon Johnson, a veteran of Barack Obama’s campaigns and now a Georgia Democratic consultant, reports The Hill... read more

Around the South for May 12: OK, VA & LA

Oklahoma: Lankford pushes cyber security. At a Senate hearing on cyber threats, including hacking and cyber espionage, US Sen. James Lankford (R), a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, noted, “We are exceptionally vulnerable in our system. I do agree that one of the prime things we have to move to is actual deterrence,” reported The Hill ……. Virginia: McAuliffe bows out of congressional race. Virginia First Lady Dorothy McAuliffe (D), who had been contacting members of Congress and other Democratic leaders over the past few weeks about possibly challenging 10th District US Rep. Barbara Comstock (R), told the Washington Post this week that she has decided not to run. “I’ve decided that I can have more impact in the role that I have now and not wanting to give that up, having to separate myself from that earlier than I’d like.” There are three other Democrats already running for the seat ……. Louisiana: New Orleans takes down Davis statue. A statue of Confederate President Jefferson Davis was taken down this week. The dismantling took place at 3am, under police protection. The workmen wore masks that covered their faces... read more

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