Virginia: Northam ahead, but hasn’t nailed it down

Virginia: Northam ahead, but hasn’t nailed it down

By Hastings Wyman- “There’s an anti-Trump mood,” says Carter Phillips, a lawyer and Democratic activist in Hampton, VA; “I think Northam wins this.” “Ed [Gillespie] is going to win this race,” says Morton Blackwell, the Republican National Committeeman for Virginia since 1988. That kind of optimism on the part of both parties in Virginia’s off-year gubernatorial contest suggests a hard-fought campaign between Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, a Democrat, and former GOP National Chairman Ed Gillespie. While Northam appears to be in the lead, he has not nailed down a majority, suggesting a close race when the votes are counted on the night of November 7. Opinion polls show a race that is still undecided with less than two months to go before Election Day. Northam is leading in two of the three most recent polls, and in the third, the two are tied. A Roanoke College Poll released in late August showed Northam with 43% to Gillespie’s 36%. An August 8 poll of registered voters by Virginia Commonwealth University showed Northam with 42%, Gillespie with 37% and Libertarian Cliff Hydra at 6%. Among minorities, Northam led 61% to 15%; among whites, Gillespie led 42% to 29%. And a July 25 poll by Monmouth University showed the two with 44% each. Thus, Northam mostly leads Gillespie, but his numbers – in the low to mid 40s – indicate he has not sealed the deal with voters. And Gillespie simply has not moved much beyond the state’s Republican base, scarcely more than a third of the voters. Northam is also winning the money race. The latest financial reports show that Northam...
Alabama: Moore headed to victory

Alabama: Moore headed to victory

By Hastings Wyman – Contradicting the conventional wisdom that US Senator-by-appointment Luther Strange would defeat the primary winner Roy Moore in the runoff, opinion polls consistently show Moore the likely victor. “In the most recent poll I’ve seen, from Jerry Ingram [Southeast Research], Moore has a sizable lead,” says Glenn Browder, Emeritus Professor at Jacksonville State University in Alabama. A former congressman, Browder adds, “I’d rather be in Moore’s shoes.” The poll, taken by Montgomery-based Southeast Research of 401 likely runoff voters, showed Moore with 52%, Strange with 36% and 12% with no choice. Conservative voters favored Moore 58% to 32%, while moderates favored Strange 49% to 39%. The poll also showed President Trump with a 63% favorable rating, to Moore’s 38% and Strange’s 18%. “Justice Moore is up double-digits,” says Dr. Gerald Johnson, Emeritus Professor of Political Science at Auburn University, an expert on political statistics. “I don’t see anything intervening to change that.” In addition, the Real Clear Politics average of four polls, not including the Southeast Research survey, showed Moore with 46% and Strange with 35%. A poll in late August by Opinion Savvy showed Moore up by 18 points. Another poll, however, did show Strange behind by only two points. “When it’s all said and done, polls are fairly accurate,” says Marty Connors, a former GOP state chairman. Moore, who has positioned himself firmly on the socially conservative hard right, was twice removed from the state Supreme Court for disobeying federal court orders. The first time Moore erected a monument to the Ten Commandments at the Court, which he refused to move. After Moore’s removal,...
Nathan Deal: uniter, not a divider

Nathan Deal: uniter, not a divider

By Hastings Wyman – Last week Georgia’s political establishment, Democrats and Republicans, blacks and whites, were on hand for the historic unveiling of an 8-foot bronze statue of Martin Luther King Jr. King’s daughter Bernice King, said “Today, we as the sons and daughters of former slaves and former slave owners are here to witness the unveiling of that statue. It is a glorious and grand day in the state of Georgia and in the United States of America.” Also present was one-time state GOP chair and former state Sen. Chuck Clay, who adds that the placing of the statue, the first on the Capitol grounds of a non-elected official, “is about uniting… You constantly heard, ‘Why did it take so long?’ But late is better than never.” The effort to honor King began in 2014 on Martin Luther King Day when Gov. Nathan Deal (R) spoke at the Ebenezer Baptist Church, where King had been the preacher. Deal promised that he would “find an appropriate way” to commemorate the civil rights leader at the state Capitol. The Republican-controlled legislature passed a resolution calling for a statue of King and Gov. Deal appointed state Rep. Calvin Smyre (D) as the state’s liaison to the King family. Smyre is an African American and has served in the House longer than any other member. “I’ve had a longstanding relationship with Gov. Deal … ” says Smyre (D); “I’ve worked with him on a number of projects. In 2014, he was sort of ahead of the curve on this issue. The conversation began when we were leaving the Ebenezer Baptist Church. Over...
Confederate politics in today’s South

Confederate politics in today’s South

By Hastings Wyman – The issue of whether or not to remove monuments and statues that honor the Confederacy or its officials received a huge move to front and center following the demonstrations, riots and violence in Charlottesville. All across the nation – and especially in the South – cities are removing their Confederate monuments or moving them to a less public space. Most of these jurisdictions have large African-American population. In other cities, these actions are very controversial. Many historians assert that the monuments were built during times when whites were working to impose and/or keep white supremacy, not to honor the Confederacy. Essentially, because most of the monuments were erected after Reconstruction through the 1920s, a period of racial tension throughout the South, they link them to racism. Many were put up at the behest of the daughters of Confederate veterans. Some historians have questioned the wisdom of tearing down monuments that might provide history lessons. “Willy-nilly removal of the statues is risky business,” Yale historian David Blight told the Boston Globe. Instead, he suggests keeping those on battlefields and removing others from public squares. A poll by NPR/PBS News Hour/Marist of voters nationwide found that 62% believed the monuments should remain while only 27% favored removing them. Another survey, by Reuters/Ipsos found that 54% of adults favored keeping the monuments in public places, while 27% said they should be removed. In three of the South’s politically important states – Florida, Georgia and Virginia – the monuments have become a controversial issue. Whether this second fighting of the War Between the States, as school children were taught...
The money rolls in

The money rolls in

By Hastings Wyman – The Democrats need a net gain of 25 seats to take control of the US House of Representatives. The 2nd Quarter Federal Election Commission (FEC) finance reports show the amount the candidate raised in the second three months of this year and the amount of cash-on-hand as of June 30. Given the volatility of the current political atmosphere, we have included financial information on 22 Southern congressional districts. Only two of the districts are held by Democrats to 19 by Republicans, giving the Democrats a much better chance of picking up seats. It is doubtful that all of these contests will be competitive next year, but money is being raised in all of them. Stay tuned. Arkansas 2 (Little Rock, etc.) – French Hill (R) won reelection last year with a 21-point margin, but he is the only one of the Razorback State’s all-Republican US House delegation that the DCCC is targeting. Hill raised $317,000 in the 2nd Quarter, with $816,000 on hand by June 30. Democrat Paul Spencer raised $7,000 with $150.00 on hand. Florida 7 (Orlando, etc.) – Freshman Stephanie Murphy (D), the first Vietnamese-American woman elected to Congress, raised $699,000 in the 2nd Quarter and had $519,000 cash on hand. She has a primary opponent on her left, Chardo Richardson, who raised $4,000 and has $3,000 on hand. State Rep. Mike Miller (R) has also filed, but with only minimal financial information. Florida 13 (St. Petersburg, etc.) – US Rep. Charlie Crist (D) raised $1,272,000 and had $1,121,000 on hand. The GOP is likely to take another crack at Crist, but so...