Around the South for July 20th: SC, GA, & TX

South Carolina: Sanford goes down swinging.  U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), recently defeated in a primary by Katie Arrington, is not leaving office quietly.  Long outspoken against President Donald Trump, Sanford is demanding the president release his tax returns to “clear the air” following what some interpreted as a pro-Russian press conference last week when Trump met with Vladimir Putin in Helsinki.  Georgia: Kemp widens lead in gov.’s race.  Secretary of State Brian Kemp looks to be in pole position heading into next Tuesday’s Republican primary runoff, posting an 18 point lead over Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.  Contributing to that gap: President Donald Trump unexpectedly gave his endorsement to Kemp this week, and Vice President Mike Pence will be in Georgia over the weekend campaigning on his behalf.  Texas: Lt. Gov. boasts massive fundraising advantage.  Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has hauled in $4.5 million since February and is sitting on a whopping $14 million in his war chest compared to just $265,000 raised and $65,000 on hand for opponent, Democrat Mike...

Around the South for July 19th: NC, VA, & FL

North Carolina: Budd leads in polling.  Freshman U.S. Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) holds a 5 point lead over challenger Kathy Manning in the latest polling from SurveyUSA.  With Manning sitting on a big war chest and Trump-approval ratings fairly low, Dems are feeling confident that they can flip the district.  Budd though, who won by 12 points in 2016,  shows relatively strong favorability ratings.  Virginia: Brat blames Obama for Russian meddling.  U.S. Congressman Dave Brat (R-VA), long one of President Donald Trump’s staunchest defenders in the House, has stuck by the president even as many Republicans have backed away following his comments about Russian elections hacking at a Helsinki summit this week.  Said Brat, “Unfortunately, for eight years the Obama Administration operated as if Russia was not a major geopolitical threat. Their foreign policy failures emboldened Putin to take aggressive actions around the World and set the stage for where we are today.”  Florida: Nelson caught in Supreme Court crossfire.  U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) is taking heat from both sides over the looming confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.  Right-leaning groups such as Americans for Prosperity have released ads urging the Senator to confirm Kavanaugh, while left-leaning ones such as Organizing for Action have mounted telephone campaigns urging him to impede the...

Around the South for July 17th: TX, NC, & OK

Texas: Abbott maintains fundraising advantage.  Governor Greg Abbott, running for re-election this November, is holding a truly massive fundraising advantage over his Democratic opponent, Lupe Valdez.  Abbott is sitting on nearly $29 million in his war chest, while Valdez has just $222,000 on hand.  Expect a rout on election day.  North Carolina: Charlotte to host 2020 RNC.  After a contentious vote that nearly saw the decision vetoed, the Charlotte City Council this week narrowly approved hosting the 2020 Republican National Convention.  The city beat out Las Vegas and Nashville.  Oklahoma: Sens. challenge Trump on Russia.   Republican U.S. Senators James Lankford and Jim Inhofe are among those unhappy with President Donald Trump’s comments that he believed Vladimir Putin when he said that Russia had not interfered in U.S. elections.  Said Lankford: “It is a fact that Russian entities hacked U.S. presidential campaign accounts, launched cyber-attacks against at least 21 states, attacked U.S. voting system software companies, and engaged in social media misinformation campaigns during the 2016...

Around the South for July 16th: GA, FL, & KY

Georgia: Gov.’s race too close to call.  The GOP gubernatorial runoff between Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp is nearly dead even, with the latest poll from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution giving Kemp a 3 point lead, within the margin of error.  A race that has gotten nasty in recent weeks looks to get even nastier as it heads toward voting day on July 24th.  Florida: Big money in CD-6.  The race to replace U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, now running for governor, is looking to be an expensive one, with multiple candidates already raising $1 million+ in the early stages of their campaigns.  Mike Waltz looks to be the best-funded Republican, while Democratic frontrunner and former U.S. Ambassador Nancy Soderberg has raised over $1.5 million of her own since joining the race.  Kentucky: Transparency concerns in court system.  An audit of the Bluegrass State’s court system this month shows a “pervasive lack of accountability” and resistance to transparency.  Incidents such as the leasing of expensive office space from a newly-elected Supreme Court Justice’s sons has raised the eyebrows of many around the state concerned at the state of the court system....

Around the South for July 13th, 2018: FL, KY, & AL

Florida: DeSantis urges Castro indictment.  U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) is calling on President Donald Trump to investigate Raul Castro, brother of Fidel, for his role in  for his role in shooting down an airplane in 1996 which had three U.S. citizens and a permanent resident.  Other Sunshine State politicians including U.S. Reps. Carlos Curbelo, Mario Diaz-Balart, Matt Gaetz have joined DeSantis, who is currently running for governor.  Kentucky: McConnell can’t eat in peace.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has had yet another meal interrupted by leftist protesters, this time while eating out in Louisville.  Republican politicians being harassed while out in public has become a common occurrence in recent months as a form of ‘protest’ against their policies.  Alabama: Congresswoman facing primary challenge.  U.S. Rep. Martha Roby (R-AL) is in the fight of her political life in a runoff against fellow Republican Bobby Bright, and support of the president is at the center of the challenge.  Many Republicans are upset with Roby, a four-term incumbent, for her negative comments against Trump surrounding the “Access Hollywood” tape that came out during the 2016 campaign which captured Trump bragging about sexually assaulting women.  Trump, however, has tweeted support for Roby over Bright, a former Democratic congressman who has since swapped...

Around the South for July 12th: SC, TX, & NC

South Carolina: Chamber of Commerce urges to fight back against Trump tariffs.  The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce is urging state lawmakers to push back against President Donald Trump’s aggressive trade policies, arguing that local manufacturers will be severely hurt in a potential trade war. Texas: Holder planning 2020 run?  Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has been meeting with latino leaders in Texas as part of an effort to mobilize the vote ahead of the 2018 midterms and beyond.  Many think he is testing the waters for a 2020 run for higher office.  North Carolina: Charlotte officials consider withdrawing RNC bid.  Members of the Charlotte City Council are debating pulling their name out of the hat in the bid for the 2020 Republican National Convention.  The city is considered a frontrunner for the event, which will choose a host city later this...