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By Hastings Wyman
Southern Political Report

December 11, 2009

Florida: Rubio a RINO?

Maybe he’s just not used to being a statewide candidate who is the favorite of the conservative wing of the GOP, but former state House Speaker Marco Rubio, in true moderate fashion, has straddled a couple of fences that could hurt him in next year’s US Senate primary against Gov. Charlie Crist. First, Rubio appears to have changed his position on a SunRail commuter train for Florida, something he supported when he was in the legislature. He now says the economic times have change (true enough). But perhaps of greater damage to his political ambitions, Rubio told a newsman that he would have accepted “those portions” of the stimulus package “that would not have put Florida in a worse position.” That kinda/sorta answer may not please his conservative backers, who were outraged by Crist’s support for Obama’s stimulus proposal. 

Tennessee: GOP to challenge Gordon

Look for state Sen. Jim Tracy (R) to announce soon that he will run for Congress in the 6th District (Murfreesboro, etc.) for the seat currently held by 13-term US Rep. Bart Gordon (D). Tracy, in his second term, has visited with the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC) in Washington, but has not made his intentions official. He will join a GOP primary that already has several contenders, including TEA Party activist Dave Evans and former Rutherford County Republican Chairwoman Lou Ann Zelenik. Gordon has been winning by impressive margins in past years -- 64 percent in 2004, 67 percent in 2006, and 74 percent (against an independent) in 2008, but John McCain did defeat Barack Obama in the district by 62 percent to 37 percent.  At the end of the 3rd Quarter, Gordon had $1,128,000 on hand; Evans had $13,700. This year’s more-serious-than-usual GOP challenge is part of the party’s nationwide effort to take advantage of what it foresees as a bad environment for Democrats in 2010.

Arkansas: Obama’s numbers lousy

According to a Dec. 1 Rasmussen survey of 500 likely Arkansas voters, only 34 percent approve of President Obama’s performance in office, down from the 39 percent who voted for him in 2008. A whopping 65 percent disapprove. Combine that with a recent InsiderAdvantage poll showing that 56 percent of Arkansans oppose Obama’s health care reform to 29 percent who favor it, and you can understand why US Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) is facing a tough time in the Senate’s deliberations on health care.

South Carolina: A deep black bench

“There are a lot of good young African Americans in the legislature, who are sort of superstars. In four years they will be running for governor and other statewide offices,” says Steve Skardon, executive director of the Palmetto Project, a non-profit group dedicated to improving the lives of South Carolinians. He names in particular state Rep. Todd Rutherford (D), 39, who has “an Obama kind of quality;” state Rep. Bakari Sellers, 25, son of Cleveland Sellers, former civil rights activist and now president of historically-black Voorhees College; and state Rep. Anton Gunn (D), 36, who served as Obama’s field representative in South Carolina in 2008.

South Carolina: Gamecocks on the run?

Not the University of South Carolina football team, but the ancient and still-thriving sport of cock-fighting, is under heavy siege in the Palmetto State. In the past several weeks, 120 people were arrested at a cockfight in Aiken County (where yours truly was born). In addition, Attorney General Henry McMaster (R), currently a candidate for governor, issued warrants for 36 people involved in a cockfighting ring in Lexington and Williamsburg Counties. At this rate, the Fighting Gamecocks may have to become the Fighting Attorneys General. Not nearly so catchy.




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