Around the South for July 19th: NC, VA, & FL

North Carolina: Budd leads in polling.  Freshman U.S. Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC) holds a 5 point lead over challenger Kathy Manning in the latest polling from SurveyUSA.  With Manning sitting on a big war chest and Trump-approval ratings fairly low, Dems are feeling confident that they can flip the district.  Budd though, who won by 12 points in 2016,  shows relatively strong favorability ratings.  Virginia: Brat blames Obama for Russian meddling.  U.S. Congressman Dave Brat (R-VA), long one of President Donald Trump’s staunchest defenders in the House, has stuck by the president even as many Republicans have backed away following his comments about Russian elections hacking at a Helsinki summit this week.  Said Brat, “Unfortunately, for eight years the Obama Administration operated as if Russia was not a major geopolitical threat. Their foreign policy failures emboldened Putin to take aggressive actions around the World and set the stage for where we are today.”  Florida: Nelson caught in Supreme Court crossfire.  U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) is taking heat from both sides over the looming confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.  Right-leaning groups such as Americans for Prosperity have released ads urging the Senator to confirm Kavanaugh, while left-leaning ones such as Organizing for Action have mounted telephone campaigns urging him to impede the process.