Around the South for October 1st: TN, NC, & FL

Tennessee: Early voting numbers at record levels.  Early voting totals in the Volunteer State topped 1 million this week, historic numbers for a midterm and just below 2016’s presidential turnout.  Both sides seem to think the big numbers are good for them, but pundits think that the big increases in left-leaning Nashville could be good news for the Dems next Tuesday.  North Carolina: GOP tries to cement policy.  As North Carolina turns more and more purple, Republican state lawmakers are trying to cement some of their policy within the state constitution before they lose their supermajority.  Six GOP-backed constitutional referendums are on the ballots on Tuesday, including such items as a requirement to bring photo identification to vote in person, a lowering of the state’s income tax ceiling, and weakening the power of the (Democratic) governor to appoint the powerful state elections board.  Millions have been spent both for and against the amendments so far.  Florida: Ad spending sky high.  TV political ad spending ahead of the 2018 midterms has reached nearly $230 million as the biggest two races on the ticket, for U.S. Senate and governor, are locked into extremely tight matchups.  Those numbers are easily tops... read more

Around the South for October 31st: GA, AL, & VA

Georgia: Presidents come to town.  President Donald Trump and his predecessor Barack Obama will be in the Peach State over the weekend to help rally their respective bases ahead of Tuesday’s elections.  Obama will campaign with Stacey Abrams in Atlanta, while Trump will be in Macon with her opponent, Brian Kemp.  Alabama: Turnout numbers expected to be low.  While many of its neighbors, Georgia and Florida in particular, are expecting record high voter turnout numbers for a midterm, Alabama is expected to see near-record lows on Tuesday.  Secretary of State John Merrill estimates that turnout for the Nov. 6 general election will be in the 35 percent to 40 percent range, roughly what it was in 2014, which was a 28-year low.  Virginia: Bannon to campaign for GOP candidates.  Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon will be in Virginia over the weekend to campaign for several pro-Trump GOP candidates including Reps. Dave Brat, Barbara Comstock and Scott Taylor, all of whom are locked in tight races that could contribute to the House going over to the Democrats should they... read more

Around the South for October 25th: VA, NC, & TN

Virginia: Prepare for medical marijuana.  After passing legislation allowing the prescription of medical THC oils, a Richmond-based lobbying firm has helped start a marijuana-related advocacy group –  CannabisVA.  The organization will help promote the idea of medical marijuana and possibly even more as the industry looks to grow in the state.  North Carolina: Cirque du Soleil to return.  After becoming one of the many entertainment companies to boycott the state after it passed its version of a ‘Bathroom Bill’ banning transgendered individuals from restrooms that did not match their birth certificates, the bill’s partial repeal has led to Cirque du Soleil returning to Raleigh later this year.  Created in response to a resolution passed by the Charlotte City Council, HB 2 enraged many left leaning organizations, causing the state to lose out on the 2017 NBA All Star Game,  ACC postseason matches, and dozens of musical acts.  Tennessee: Senate race tightening?  A recent poll from Vanderbilt University shows Democrat Phil Bresden with a one point lead over Republican Sen. Marsha Blackburn.  Those numbers go against most other polling done in the state, which show Blackburn up by an average of about 6... read more

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

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