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...

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...

Around the South for November 2nd: AL, TN, & TX

Alabama: Pence campaigns in Birmingham.  Vice President Mike Pence landed at Birmingham’s Sumpter Smith Air National Guard Base this week to headline a fundraiser for the National Republican Senatorial Committee – the campaign arm of Senate Republicans.  He also spent time meeting with Gov. Kay Ivey, who is heavily favored in her re-election campaign against Democrat Walt Maddox next Tuesday.  Tennessee: Blackburn opens up lead.  Just days ahead of the midterm elections, Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn appears to be opening up her lead over Democratic former Governor Phil Bresdesen in the race for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat.  The latest poll, from Fox News, shows Blackburn up 9 points, up from the previous set that had her up 5-6%.  Texas: O’Rourke sucks air out of the room.  U.S. Senate contender Beto O’Rourke, this cycle’s Democratic darling, has raised a stunning amount of money in his bid against Sen. Ted Cruz.  However his popularity may actually be hurting some of his party’s other candidates, many of whom are posting meager fundraising totals ahead of Tuesday’s elections.  O’Rourke’s $70 million is the most in the nation, (and in history for a senate race) but none of the other top Dems running are close to their Republican counterparts in the money department, with some of those gaps (especially for governor and lt. governor) so massive that the candidates are funneling campaign cash to down-ballot...

Around the South for October 1st: TN, NC, & FL

Tennessee: Early voting numbers at record levels.  Early voting totals in the Volunteer State topped 1 million this week, historic numbers for a midterm and just below 2016’s presidential turnout.  Both sides seem to think the big numbers are good for them, but pundits think that the big increases in left-leaning Nashville could be good news for the Dems next Tuesday.  North Carolina: GOP tries to cement policy.  As North Carolina turns more and more purple, Republican state lawmakers are trying to cement some of their policy within the state constitution before they lose their supermajority.  Six GOP-backed constitutional referendums are on the ballots on Tuesday, including such items as a requirement to bring photo identification to vote in person, a lowering of the state’s income tax ceiling, and weakening the power of the (Democratic) governor to appoint the powerful state elections board.  Millions have been spent both for and against the amendments so far.  Florida: Ad spending sky high.  TV political ad spending ahead of the 2018 midterms has reached nearly $230 million as the biggest two races on the ticket, for U.S. Senate and governor, are locked into extremely tight matchups.  Those numbers are easily tops...