Around the South for Feb. 20: AR, FL & NC

Arkansas: Hutchinson proposes more prison beds. Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R) has announced a plan to expand the state’s prison capacity by nearly 800 beds. The proposal, which will cost $32 million in its first two years and $64 million overall, also includes the hiring of 52 new parole and probation officers, as well as the creation of re-entry centers, to help released inmates so they won’t return to crime, reports the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette  ……. Florida: GOP targets two US Reps. The National Republican Congressional Committee announced its list of 19 vulnerable Democratic members of Congress it aims to defeat next year. The list includes only two Southerners, both in Florida: Freshman US Rep. Gwen Graham, who eeked a 50.48% victory last year, and 2nd termer Patrick Murphy, who may be stepping down to run for the US Senate ……. North Carolina: Dems look for Senate candidate. A bunch of names are getting mentioned as potential challengers to US Sen. Richard Burr (R) next year, including former US Sen. Kay Hagan, state Treasurer Janet Cowell, former US Reps. Mike McIntyre and Brad Miller, and former UNC President Tom Ross. But, says Politico, “Democrats in the state aren’t particularly excited about any of the potential contenders”