Around the South for November 15th: SC, TX, & AL

South Carolina: State considers switch to paper ballots.  In the light of controversy surrounding elections security both in South Carolina as well as in neighboring states such as Georgia, state officials are considering making a switch to paper ballots in 2019.  Currently SC voting machines do not have a paper audit, putting them at risk for hacking or other interference.  Texas: Nine freshmen head to Washington.  A whopping nine new U.S. Reps. from Texas are in Washington D.C. for orientation this week following their midterm wins.  The class has four Democrats and five Republicans, including its first two Latinas in Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia, both Dems.  Alabama: Jones to run in 2020.  Democratic Senator Doug Jones, who scored a shocking victory over Republican Roy Moore in last year’s special election, has announced he intends to run for re-election in 2020.  He will once again be seen as a long shot in the dark-red state, where his victory has been considered something of a fluke considering it came after Moore, the former Supreme Court Chief Justice in the state, was accused of having improper contact with teenage girls in the 1970s while he was in his 30’s.  Rumored opponents include Rep. Bradley Byrne(R-Fairhope) and Jeff Sessions, the former U.S. Senator for the seat and U.S. Attorney General who stepped down this...

Around the South for November 13th: TX, TN, & MS

Texas: Beto 2020?  U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke may have lost his high-profile Senate race to Sen. Ted Cruz, but could he now have an even higher goal?  Rumors are already swirling that with his massive fundraising network, name recognition, and appeal to millenials, O’Rourke could be set up for a presidential run in 2020.  Tennessee: Lee pledges increased transparency.  Republican Governor-elect Bill Lee has promised “complete overhaul” of the state’s open records act to expand access to public documents and meetings as he prepares to enter office.  Lee defeated Democrat Karl Dean last week.  Mississippi: Republican U.S. Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, currently in a runoff to retain her seat against former congressman and former U.S. agriculture secretary Mike Espy, a black Democrat, is under fire for comments made at a campaign event earlier this month.  In a recently surfaced video, Hyde-Smith is seen saying about a supporter, “If he invited me to a public hanging, I’d be on the front row.”  Democrats quickly jumped on Hyde-Smith for being insensitive and reinforcing negative stereotypes about the state and its history.  Between 1882 and 1968 Mississippi had more lynchings than any other state in the...

Around the South for November 8th: GA, TN, & FL

Georgia: Election results questioned.  Republican Brian Kemp looks to have won the race for governor over Dem Stacey Abrams, but she isn’t going quietly.  There are still absentee and provisional ballots outstanding, and Abrams claims there are enough to drag Kemp, who leads by just 70,000 votes, down under 50% and into a runoff.  Tennessee: So much for the ‘Taylor’ bump.  Following pop-star Taylor Swift’s endorsement of Phil Bredesen in the Tennessee Senate race, many thought he had a shot at pulling an upset against Republican Marsha Blackburn.  That notion was quickly quelled Tuesday, as the Republican won convincingly by more than 10 points.  Swift’s endorsement may have led to a bump in voter registration, but Tennessee Republicans reminded everyone that their state is far from purple.  Florida: Crushing night for Dems.  Most prognosticators expected a blue wave in Florida, with both gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum and Senate candidate Bill Nelson up in the polls headed into Tuesday.  Both candidates were knocked off by their Republican opponents though in typically tight Florida fashion, with Ron DeSantis and Rick Scott scoring narrow victories as the Florida GOP flexed its muscle with a pair of huge...

How to Win Tennessee

By Steve Cavendish (Politico) – You know who matters in the 2018 midterms? Donald Trump! But not just Donald Trump. Control of the Senate rests in part on what voters think of the president of the United States, but it will also be determined by local disputes and regional quirks—demographics and issues, but also myth-making and self-conception. In this series of articles—this is the sixth—Politico Magazine asked an expert on a state with a crucial statewide race to explain what matters there that doesn’t matter anywhere else. For Tennessee residents, this autumn has offered a taste of what it must be like to live in Ohio or Florida. As the CBS affiliate in Nashville cut to local commercials during a Sunday afternoon NFL game, an onslaught of political ads began for the potential replacements for Senator Bob Corker: Marsha Blackburn is owned by the pharmaceutical industry! Phil Bredesen is owned by the solar industry! Marsha Blackburn is living the high life in D.C.! Phil Bredesen is a danger to President Trump’s agenda! For three solid minutes, the two candidates—and their well-funded proxies—traded blows. An independent expenditure spot closed with an all-caps message as subtle as a punch: “REJECT BREDESEN.” Read...

Around the South for November 5th, 2018: GA, FL, & WV

Georgia: Gov’s race in a dead heat.  In Georgia, new polling shows the governor’s race between Brian Kemp, and Stacey Abrams is in a statistical tie. Depending on how much support Libertarian candidate Ted Metz receives, most analysts are now talking about a possible December runoff, something that has never happened before in a general election for governor in Georgia.  Florida: Scott extends lead.  Republican Governor Rick Scott has pulled out to a 5 point lead in the latest polls over Senator Bill Nelson in the Florida US Senate race. Scott has a 48-43 percent lead, with 5% still undecided. Respondents overwhelmingly approved of Scott’s handling of Hurricane Michael, while a lot of people also approved more so than disapproved of Senator Nelson’s vote against Justice Brett Kavanaugh.  West Virginia: Manchin’s lead slips.  Democratic Senator Joe Manchin has seen his lead in the polls drop to 5% over Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. The poll indicated that more liberal leaning voters are going towards the libertarian candidate Rusty Hollen after Manchin’s vote to confirm Justice Brett Kavanaugh. While no libertarian candidate has ever received 10% of the vote in a statewide race, over 13% of respondents who identify as liberal prefer Hollen over...