Around the South for February 23rd, FL, KY & TN

  Florida: Trump solid with GOPers. An Associated Industries of Florida poll, taken in mid-February, shows President Trump is getting strong support from Republican voters. Sixty-seven percent approve of his performance as president, with 56% strongly approving. Gov. Richard Scott (R), who gets mentioned as a potential challenger to US Sen. Bill Nelson (D) next year, also gets a 67% approval rating, with 41% strongly approving, reports Sunshine State News ……. Kentucky: McConnell talks about graveyards. Speaking to the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce in the Bluegrass State, US Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) compared his job as senate majority leader to being a groundskeeper at a cemetery. “Everybody’s under you, but nobody’s listening,” reports The Hill ……. Tennessee: Alexander defends vaccines. US Sen. Lamar Alexander (R) teamed up with US Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) to defend the use of vaccines, as some Trump appointees appear to have questioned whether childhood vaccinations may cause autism. The bipartisan letter, sent to fellow members of Congress, read in part that immunizations “protect Americans, especially infants and children, against outbreaks of serious and deadly infectious diseases.”...

Around the South for Feb. 22: KY, NC & VA

  Kentucky: Bevin backs 3-day limit for pain Rx. Appearing before the state House Judiciary Committee, Gov. Matt Bevin (R) endorsed House Bill 333, which would limit physicians’ prescriptions for opioids and other controlled substances to a three-day supply, which some carefully crafted exceptions. “We’ve got to make it harder to get addicted,” he said, reported the Courier-Journal; “It’s a huge problem nationally. It’s a bigger problem for Kentucky.” ……. North Carolina: Cooper would raise teacher pay. In his recently announced budget, Gov. Roy Cooper (D), just into his first term, proposed a 5% across-the-board raise for teachers. The aim is to reach parity with the national average for teacher pay by the 2021-22 school year. “These aren’t just investments in our teachers; they are lasting investments in our economy and in our own children’s future,” Cooper said, reported HickoryRecord.com ……. Virginia: House speaker retiring. House Speaker William J. Howell (R), who has presided over the state’s House of Delegates for 15 sessions, announced his retirement this week. Often a unifying force for House GOPers and as often a problem for Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe, Howell called the experience “the greatest professional honor of my life,” reported the Washington Post...

Around the South for Feb. 21: SC, TX & VA

  South Carolina: McMaster welcomes Trump big time. “This may be the single best day in the history of South Carolina,” Gov. Henry McMaster (R), the first elected statewide official to endorse Donald Trump for president, said in welcoming President Trump to North Charleston for the rollout of Boeing’s 787-10 Dreamliner. “We are going to makeAmerica great again and greater than ever before,” he added, reports the Aiken Standard ……. Texas: GOPers increase support for Trump. A University of Texas/Texas Tribune survey found that 81% of the state’s Republicans view President Trump favorably, up by 21 points from October. Meanwhile, 83% of Democrats oppose Trump. Overall, 46% of Texans approve of the job Trump is doing, to 44% who disapprove ……. Virginia: Democrats to challenge more GOP lawmakers. In 2015, Democrats challenged 21 incumbent Republicans in the state’s House of Delegates; this year, they plan on challenging 45, including 17 in districts that Hillary Clinton carried last November...

Around the South for Feb. 20: FL, OK & VA

  Florida: Acosta picked for Labor Secretary. Alexander Acosta became the first Latino named to his cabinet by President Trump. A graduate of Harvard College and HarvardLaw School, Acosta served on the National Labor Relations Board and as Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights under President George W. Bush. He is currently the dean of the Florida International University Law School ……. Oklahoma: Pruitt confirmed to head EPA. By a vote of 52-46 – a wider margin than many of Trump’s cabinet nominees – the Senate confirmed Sooner State Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Democrats urged a delay, so they could examine emails Pruitt must release per a federal judge’s order. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell insisted on a prompt vote, however. “If it wasn’t one thing, it would be another. The effort has been to delay the nomination that they have made controversial as long as possible in order to play to their left-wing base which will not accept the results of the election.” ……. Virginia: Poll favors Democrats in governor’s race. In a Quinnipiac Poll in this year’s gubernatorial race, either of two Democratic candidates would defeat GOP frontrunner Ed Gillespie. Lt. Gov. Frank Northam (D) was favored by 43% to Gillespie’s 35%; former US Rep. Tom Perriello (D) led Gillespie 41% to 35%. Among Democrats only, Northam and Perriello each had 19%. Among Republicans, Gillespie led with 25%, with 14% for three other contenders combined. More than 60% were undecided among both parties’ supporters...

Around the South for Feb. 17: SC, NC & GOP

  South Carolina: Senate confirms Mulvaney. By a 51-49 vote, the Senate confirmed the nomination of US Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R), a major foe of excess federal spending, to head the Office of Management and Budget. The narrow confirmation vote has become the norm for President Trump’s cabinet-level appointees ……. North Carolina: Hudson praises Pence. US Rep. Richard Hudson (R) told The Hill that he is hoping that Vice President Mike Pence “has a lot of influence. Obviously, the president is the final decider, but we hope he seeks his advice, because Pence is level-headed – he’s the calm in the storm, and he knows how the process works here on Capitol Hill.” ……. GOP: Three Dixie Republicans vulnerable. The National Republican Congressional Committee has named the ten GOP US Representatives expected to face serious challenges next year. Three Southerners are on the list: Brian Mast (FL), Will Hurd (TX) and Barbara Comstock (VA)...

Around the South for Feb. 17: SC, NC & GOP

South Carolina: Senate confirms Mulvaney. By a 51-49 vote, the Senate confirmed the nomination of US Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R), a major foe of excess federal spending, to head the Office of Management and Budget. The narrow confirmation vote has become the norm for President Trump’s cabinet-level appointees ……. North Carolina: Hudson praises Pence. US Rep. Richard Hudson (R) told The Hill that he is hoping that Vice President Mike Pence “has a lot of influence. Obviously, the president is the final decider, but we hope he seeks his advice, because Pence is level-headed – he’s the calm in the storm, and he knows how the process works here on Capitol Hill.” ……. GOP: Three Dixie Republicans vulnerable. The National Republican Congressional Committee has named the ten GOP US Representatives expected to face serious challenges next year. Three Southerners are on the list: Brian Mast (FL), Will Hurd (TX) and Barbara Comstock (VA)...