Around the South for May 30th: AL, NC, & TX

Alabama: Trump slams Moore.  Prospective Republican candidate for Senate Roy Moore took a big hit this week when President Donald Trump said his nomination could have “devastating” consequences, especially for the future of the U.S. Supreme Court.  The twice-removed former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice lost to Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) in 2017, following allegations that he had improper sexual contact with teenage girls in the 1970s.  North Carolina: Dems struggle to find good candidates.  U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC) is considered to be one of the more vulnerable Senate Republicans heading into 2020, but Democrats have struggled to find a suitable candidate to challenge him.  Cal Cunningham, a candidate for Lt. Gov., and State Senator Jeff Jackson have been floated as names, but as of now there is no big time candidate for the party to rally around.  Texas: SOS Whitley resigns.  Embattled Texas Secretary of State David Whitley resigned this week after he was failed to be confirmed before the end of the legislative session, as is required by law.  Whitley came under fire after his office wrongly flagged tens of thousands of Texans as potential non-citizens to be removed from the voter rolls.  That mistake led to a major lawsuit from a civil rights group and national media attention, and Democrats in the state Senate blocked his confirmation.  Gov. Greg Abbott must now name a replacement, who will have to be confirmed following the 2020... read more

Around the South for May 23rd: KY, SC, & FL

Kentucky: Beshear wins Dem nomination.  Attorney General Andy Beshear won the Democratic primary for governor this week, setting up a showdown with current Gov. Matt Bevin.  The two have had a testy relationship over the past four years, waging a series of legal battles over pension and education.  South Carolina: Biden boasts big lead.  The Palmetto State is one of the key early states for the Democratic presidential primary, and if early polls are any indicator then former Vice President Joe Biden has a major advantage.  A poll from Columbia-based Crantford Research has Biden at 42% of respondents’ first choice, followed distantly by California Sen. Kamala Harris at 10% and Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren at 8%.  Florida: DeSantis calls for elections security check.  Following a report that Russian hackers successfully breached two counties’ election data ahead of the 2016 election, Gov. Ron DeSantis has called for a security check to ensure that elections infrastructure in the state is protected.  The state’s budget, still awaiting the governor’s signature, designates an additional $2.8 million in cybersecurity grants for county elections... read more

Around the South for May 16th: AL, TX, & NC

Alabama: Abortion bill causes uproar.  As neighboring states such as Georgia have passed more restrictive anti-abortion legislation this year, Alabama has gone one step further.  This week the state’s legislature passed a bill that would make performing an abortion at any stage of pregnancy, with almost no exceptions, a felony.  The bill now sits on the desk of Gov. Kay Ivey, as Democrats, including those already in the 2020 presidential primary, have slammed the legislation.  Texas: Jones to get rematch against Rep. Hurd.  Gina Ortiz Jones, the Democrat who narrowly lost to U.S. Rep. Will Hurd, R-Helotes, last year is running again.  Jones, a former Air Force intelligence officer, lost to Hurd last year by fewer than 1,000 votes, and is ramping up her 2020 campaign early to get an edge on the rematch.  North Carolina: Bishop wins GOP primary.  In the redo race for North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, State Sen. Dan Bishop, author of the infamous “bathroom bill” in the state last year, won a low-turnout Republican primary to face Democrat Dan McCready in September.  The race is being redone because Republican Mark Harris, the original winner, was forced to resign after it was found he paid a political operative to commit voter... read more

Around the South for May 9th: AL, SC, & VA

Alabama: Equal pay bill advances.  A bill to prohibit Alabama employers from paying workers differently based on gender or race passed out of committee this week, moving it a step closer to becoming law.  While there are already federal laws on the books banning pay discrimination, Alabama and Mississippi are the only states without such a law on the books.  South Carolina: NFL owner threatens legislature.  Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper is urging South Carolina lawmakers to pass a bill approving more than $115 million in incentives to get the team to move its team headquarters across the border from North to South Carolina.  Some South Carolina lawmakers have questioned the positive impact of the move, while others point to the millions in investment that it would bring as reason to move forward.  Tepper has said he’s happy to remain in Charlotte if legislators can’t come up with the incentives he’s asking for.  Virginia: State Sen. eyes higher office.  State Sen. Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond) is a rising star in the Democratic party – and she’s already beginning to look at moving up the ladder.  She recently launched a new PAC that seeks to help Dems take control of both the state House and Senate, and could also be used as a launching pad for a gubernatorial race in 2021.  The two presumed Democratic frontrunners for the nomination, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark R. Herring, are mired in high profile scandals that may damage, if not kill, any potential campaigns in the... read more

Around the South for May 2nd: FL, TN, & NC

Florida: State House passes campus carry bill.  On Wednesday Florida’s House of Representatives narrowly passed a bill which will allow teachers to carry guns in high school classrooms.  Democrats bitterly opposed the measure, which will allow teachers to arm themselves if they complete the 144 hour voluntary Guardian program.  The legislation now heads to the desk of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, who is expected to sign it into law.  Tennessee: Senate passes bill eliminating time changes.  The Tennessee state Senate has passed a bill that would keep daylight savings time year-round, a proposal that has gained steam around the country in recent years.  The bill would scrap the biannual time shift,  but only if Congress first passes a federal law allowing states to observe daylight saving year-round – which may be a big ask.  North Carolina: Congressional race goes to GOP runoff.  The race to replace former U.S. Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), who passed away in February, will go to a runoff in the Republican primary.  A pair of doctors – state Rep. Greg Murphy and Joan Perry, emerged from a crowded primary field and will meet again on July 9.  The winner of that primary will be a heavy favorite in the right-leaning district ahead of a September general election against Democratic primary winner Allen Thomas, Libertarian winner Tim Harris and Constitution Party candidate Greg... read more

Around the South for April 25th: GA, TN, & TX

Georgia: Trump talks opioid epidemic.  President Donald Trump was in Atlanta Wednesday to speak at the Rx Drug Abuse and Heroin Summit about the ongoing opioid crisis.  His administration has dedicated billions to fighting the epidemic, which claimed more than 42,000 American lives in 2017 alone.  Tennessee: School voucher bill passes House.  The controversial school voucher bill pushed by Republican Gov. Bill Lee passed the state House this week by the narrowest of margins – 50-48.  The bill would provide public money for parents who unenroll a student from their public school district and allow them to spend the funds on private school or other education-related expenses.  Democrats uniformly opposed the bill along with some Republicans, saying the legislation will gut funding for public schools.  Texas: Dems target one of their own.  The Justice Democrats, a left wing PAC that helped U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez unseat longtime Representative Joseph Crowley, are now targeting other Democrats across the country deemed to be not liberal enough.  First on their list: Rep. Henry Cuellar, one of the most conservative Democrats in Washington.  The group has already started running ads against Cuellar, but thus far has not found a candidate to primary... read more

Around the South for April 18th: FL, AL, & SC

Florida: Crist named to DCCC leadership team.  U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist, D-Fla., a former Republican, has been named to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s leadership team.  The DCCC is tasked with spearheading on-the-ground campaign duties for Democrats nationwide, with a major emphasis, obviously, on 2020.  Crist left the GOP in 2010 before losing elections for the senate and governor, then defeated Republican Rep. David Jolly in 2016.  Alabama: Roy Moore leads GOP polling.  Disgraced former U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore leads a recent primary poll in Alabama, shocking the national GOP establishment.  Moore holds a strong lead over other announced and unannounced candidates, including Rep. Bradley Byrne, Rep. Mo Brooks and Rep. Gary Palmer.  Sen. Doug Jones (D-AL) defeated Moore in 2017 following reports that Moore had allegedly sexually assaulted and otherwise acted inappropriately with several women, including several who were minors at the time.  South Carolina: Graham, Harris bring in out of state money.  U.S. Rep. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and 2020 opponent, Democrat Jaime Harrison, are already well into fundraising ahead of their eventual clash.  In 2019 Graham has already raised $2 million, but just 17% of it has come from South Carolina donors.  Harrison meanwhile has raised some $230,000, with just 20% of that coming from... read more

Around the South for April 11th: TX, VA, & TN

Texas: Leaders support raising sales tax.  Three of the most powerful men in the Lone Star State: Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen, are all behind a plan to raise the state’s sales tax by one cent in an effort to reduce property taxes.  The Republicans are putting their weight behind a bill currently working its way through the state legislature.  Virginia: Northam approval down, Dems steady.  A new approval rating poll from the Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University shows that Gov. Ralph Northam’s approval rating has dropped nearly 20 points since December, a credit to the scandal that broke when pictures were found of him wearing blackface in medical school in the 1980’s.  42% of those polled said he should step down, but when asked which party they’d like to see hold a majority in the state’s General Assembly, Democrats led 46% to 42%.  Tennessee: Medical marijuana dead until 2020.  State lawmakers have effectively killed off talks on any medical marijuana legislation during the 2019 session, leaving supporters to look toward 2020.  The bill being pushed would have made it legal for residents to purchase the drug from registered stores if they suffered from a “debilitating medical condition” — including cancer, PTSD, HIV/AIDS or severe arthritis.... read more

Around the South for April 4th: FL, GA, & SC

Florida: Gaetz for Senate in… Alabama?  U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) hasn’t been shy about eyeing higher office, but with a Republican governor and senator elected last year and the other senate seat held by popular Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), his options appear limited.  But could there be another option?  Rumors are circulating that the fiery young congressman could be considering a run in neighboring Alabama.  With only a one-day residency requirement a switch isn’t hard, and he is a favorite of President Donald Trump, whose endorsement could outweigh the fact that Gaetz hasn’t actually lived in the state.  Georgia: Abortion debate heats up.  The Georgia legislature passed a bill during its legislative session banning abortions after six weeks of pregnancy.  The move infuriated Democrats and made national headlines, with protesters holding multiple events at the Capitol.  Gov. Brian Kemp has pledged to sign the bill, but it will surely be challenged in the courts as has similar legislation in other states.  South Carolina: Former DOJ attorney to challenge Wilson.  Democrat Adair Ford Boroughs has announced her intent to challenge 19-year incumbent Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC).  The former Department of Justice attorney faces long odds – Wilson won re-election in his dark-red district last year by nearly 14... read more

Around the South for March 28th: TX, KY, & NC

Texas: Harris stumps.  There may already be two Texans running in the Democratic presidential primary, but that hasn’t stopped one top candidate from courting voters in the Lone Star State.  Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) swung through Texas on a campaign trip this week, drawing a crowd of nearly 2,500 at a stop at Texas Southern University.  The senator is looking to position herself as a frontrunner amidst a very crowded field.  Kentucky: Barr invites AOC “underground.”  U.S. Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY) this week, when commenting on the controversial “Green New Deal” plan pushed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) threw out an invitation to the freshman lawmaker to come tour parts of Kentucky struggling alongside the coal industry.  Perhaps to his surprise, Ocasio-Cortez quickly accepted, saying that part of  her plan was to fully fund the pensions of coal miners.  Barr’s staff said they are working out an official trip some time this spring.  North Carolina: Abortion law struck down.  A state law passed in 2015 that banned abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy has been ruled as unconstitutional by a federal court.  State lawmakers now have 60 days to either write a new abortion law or appeal the... read more

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