Around the South for Dec. 23: SC, VA & TX

South Carolina: Graham gets praise. The Washington Post described US Sen. Lindsey Graham’s (R) departure from the presidential race as “distressing,” commenting in an editorial that Graham, though a long-shot for the nomination, was a candidate with a “record of service, thoughtful views and humanistic approach to politics.” …….Virginia: Hurt retiring. Three-term US Rep. Robert Hurt (R) will not seek reelection next year, reports Roll Call. Hurt’s 5th District (Danville, etc.) is likely to choose a Republican successor. Although Democrats are likely to look carefully at an open seat, John McCain, Mitt Romney and gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli all carried the district ……. Texas: Cruz gaining. With increasing support from talk radio and from evangelical Christians, US Sen. Ted Cruz continues to gain on Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination. Among the religious groups in his corner, reports the Washington Post in a front page story, are leaders from Focus on the Family, the National Organization for Marriage, and the Iowa Family Leader group. Should Cruz carry Iowa and do well in New Hampshire, such backing should stand him in good stead in the Southern primaries to follow …….