Around the South for May 17: KY, SC & Florida

Kentucky: Bevin hedges on sports gambling. Gov. Matt Bevin (R) said about last week’s Supreme Court decision allowing states to decide whether or not to legalize sports gambling, “Whether this ultimately results in any change for Kentucky is something that will be determined … in a future legislative session,” reports the Courier-Journal. Bevin called the decision “a great win for states’ rights” and  acknowledged that “Sports betting has happened since the dawn of time.” However, he has opposed casinos, citing the questionable benefits they have ultimately brought to Atlantic City …… South Carolina: Democrats choose running mates. The three Democratic candidates for governor have now chosen their running mates, the first year that candidates for governor will be paired with a candidate for lieutenant governor. Long-time political consultant Phil Noble tapped Gloria Bromell Tinubu, a former legislator in Georgia and more recently twice a losing candidate for congress. Former state Rep. James Smith has chosen state Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell, citing her ability to work across party lines. And business lawyer Marguerite Willis picked state Sen. John Scott, who previously served in the state House for almost twenty years. Tinubu and Scott are African-American, a major component of the state’s Democratic electorate ……. Florida: Gaetz comes out for science. Maverick GOP US Rep. Matt Gaetz, 36, speaking at a meeting of younger members of congress, reports The Hill, said Republicans could appeal to younger voters by ending “our party’s war on science,” noting that people don’t choose to be gay, that the earth is warming, and that medical marijuana helps some people significantly...

Around the South for May 16: FL, AL & VA

  Florida: Scott out-raising, out-spending Nelson. Gov. Rick Scott (R), who is challenging US Sen. Bill Nelson (D), raised some $3.2 million in the weeks since he announced his candidacy, the same amount Nelson raised in the three months of the 1st Quarter. And so far, Scott and allied groups have spent $8.8 million on his campaign, dwarfing the $185,000 spent for Nelson. The latest poll, by Florida Atlantic University, showed Scott ahead by four points ……. Alabama: Jones returning excess contribution from O’Donnell. Rosie O’Donnell contributed the maximum allowed by law, $2,700, to Senate candidate Doug Jones (D) last year, but she contributed in both the primary and General Election, not realizing that was not lawful. She has asked Jones and others to returning the extra $2,700, which Jones is doing ……. Virginia: Taylor presses GOP on net neutrality. At an informal meeting of younger Republican members of congress, US Rep. Scott Taylor, 38, argued that bad messaging led many young voters to believe that the Republican-controlled FCC was hurting the open internet by repealing the Obama-era net neutrality rule, reported The Hill. “That really wasn’t the case, but … we were not messaging in a way that ensured younger voters, hey, we’re actually helping things.”...

Around the South for May 15: TN, NC & SC

Tennessee: Corker backs Trump embassy move. US Sen. Bob Corker (R), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, yesterday released a statement on the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem. “I applaud the Trump administration for following through on the bipartisan will of Congress to relocate the US embassy, which is a long overdue acknowledgement of Jerusalem as Israel’s seat of government.” ……. North Carolina: Cooper wants to freeze tax cuts, boost teacher pay. Gov. Roy Cooper (D) yesterday called for the legislature to freeze tax cuts scheduled to take effect next year for businesses and wealthy businesses and instead increase teachers’ salaries by 5%. Republican leaders in the legislature quickly rejected the plan, reports WRAL.com. The GOP plan would phase in the tax cuts as part of the state’s economic upsurge and would give teachers’ a smaller pay raise ……. South Carolina: Sanford supports border wall. US Rep. Mark Sanford (R), who has a history of differences with President Trump and also has a pro-Trump primary foe, state Rep. Katie Arrington, has aired two television spots emphasizing his support on a wall between the US and Mexico. “That Arrington gal must be scaring him,” retired Francis Marion University political scientist Neal Thigpen told the Post & Courier...

Around the South for May 14: OK, TN & VA

Oklahoma: Liability nixed for church gun accidents. Gov. Mary Fallin (R) signed a bill that extends to churches the law that currently absolves persons from liability if they accidentally injure others while engaged in self-defense. Previously the law only applied to homes and businesses. “This is necessary to protect the place of worship from basically being sued out of existence,” said the bill’s sponsor, state Rep. Greg Babinec (R) ……. Tennessee: Black makes two big proposals. US Rep.Diane Black (R), a candidate for governor, last week announced that she favors repurposing the Memphis Regional Megasie from its current industrial focus to an agricultural hub, which would do away with a need for contructing a 35-mile pipeline, reports The Tennessee Journal. The other is a major infrastructure project in Nashville that would build a second level atop the interstates crossing the city ……. Virginia: Whigs nominate candidate. The Whig Party, which describes itself as a centrist, nonpartisan group, has endorsed former Democrat Helen Alli in the 7th District congressional election, reports fredericksburg.com. Alli is an Army veteran and a small business owner. The incumbent is US Rep. Dave Brat (R). Abigail Spanberger and Dan Ward are competing in the June 12 primary for the Democratic congressional nomination...

Around the South for May 11: FL, AR & Ds

  Florida: Corcoran endorses Putnam. State House Speaker Richard Corcoran (R) in a surprise move declined to run for governor but endorsed Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam (R) for the state’s top spot. “I’ve known Adam, I know his character,” he told the media at a Tallahassee news conference. “He is principled, authentic and passionate, and he loves this state. Adam will be a phenomenal leader.” Putnam’s chief GOP rival, US Rep. Ron DeSantis, who has been endorsed by President Trump, responded, “Insiders only know how to play one game, and that’s making deals to save their own skin.” ……. Arkansas: Cotton succeeds Cruz. In a column titled, “The Senate’s new pariah, Tom Cotton,” the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank yesterday blasted US Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) for interrupting and what Milbank called “heckling” of Democratic senators during the confirmation hearing for Gina Haspel to head the CIA. Cotton, he wrote, “has surpassed Ted Cruz (R-TX) as the most disliked member of the Senate” ……. Democrats: 2020 contenders moving and shaking. The Hill newspaper on Wednesday published the names of eight – yes, eight – potential Democratic candidates for president in 2020: US Sens. Cory Booker (NJ), Kirsten Gillibrand (NY), Kamala Harris (CA), Bernie Sanders (VT) and Elizabeth Warren (MA); former Vice President Joe Biden, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Some are on book-hawking tours or visiting key states, others kinda/sorta raising funds – “Nothing official, but lots of wink winks,” one fundraiser told The Hill. Stay tuned...