Chicken Fried Politics

LATEST COVERAGE

NEIGHBOR WHO ASSAULTED KENTUCKY U.S. SENATOR RAND PAUL GETS 30-DAY JAIL SENTENCE

Rene Boucher

Rene Boucher, 60, was sentenced on a felony charge of assaulting a member of Congress resulting in injury for tackling Paul last November outside his Bowling Green home, leaving the senator with several broken ribs. Boucher was also fined $10,000 and will serve a year of probation. The Bowling Green Daily News reported that Boucher apologized in court, saying, “I’m embarrassed and I hope (Paul) and his family will one day be able to accept my apology.” Boucher said he was angry at Paul for stacking yard waste near their shared property line. (Posted June 18)

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SOUTH CAROLINA PRIMARY: U.S. REP. MARK SANFORD GOES DOWN; MCMASTER, WARREN IN RUNOFF

Mark Sanford

Sanford became the second incumbent to go down in a primary this year, losing the GOP nomination for his Lowcountry seat after President Donald Trump tweeted a last-minute endorsement of his opponent. In another key race, Governor Henry McMaster secured a spot in the June 26 runoff, where he will face Greenville businessman John Warren. In the 5th U.S. House District, Democrat Archie Parnell advanced to the general election, despite pleas from party leaders to quit after revelations about past spouse abuse. (Posted June 12)

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VIRGINIA PRIMARY: COMSTOCK, WEXTON BATTLE SET IN HOUSE RACE; STEWART WINS GOP SENATE NOD

Comstock

Wexton

Virginia Democrats have picked nominees for four targeted Republican-held U.S. House seats, including a high-stakes race in the Washington, D.C. suburbs that will pit GOP U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock against Democratic State Senator Jennifer Wexton. Republicans selected as their U.S. Senate nominee former Trump state campaign chair Corey Stewart, putting at the top of their ticket a candidate who has championed preservation of Confederate symbols. (Posted June 12)

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ALABAMA PRIMARY: GOVERNOR KAY IVEY WINS WITHOUT RUNOFF; U.S. REP. MARTHA ROBY DOESN’T

Kay Ivey

Ivey cruised to victory in the GOP primary, defeating three opponents without a runoff and clearing a major hurdle in her quest to win in her own right a job she inherited when her predecessor resigned in 2017. This fall, she will face the Democratic winner, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox. Roby was forced into a July 17 runoff in the 2nd District against amid a backlash over her criticism of Donald Trump. She will face former U.S. Rep. Bobby Bright. (Posted June 6)

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MISSISSIPPI PRIMARY: RUNOFFS SET IN 3RD U.S. HOUSE DISTRICT, DEMOCRATIC U.S. SENATE RACE

A field of six Republicans vying for the open 3rd District U.S. House seat has been narrowed to two contenders, with Michael Guest and Whit Hughes winning the right to face each other in a June 26 runoff. Guest, a prosecutor in the Jackson suburbs, took 45 percent in the first round of voting to 22 percent for Hughes, an aide to former Governor Haley Barbour. In the race for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Roger Wicker, Democrats will decide a runoff between Howard Sherman, a Meridian businessman married to actress Sela Ward, and State House Minority Leader David Baria from Bay St. Louis. (Posted June 6)

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VIRGINIA U.S. REP. TOM GARRETT DROPS OUT OF RE-ELECTION BID AFTER DISCLOSING ALCOHOLISM

Tom Garrett

Garrett, a freshman Republican, announced he will not seek re-election this fall because he is an alcoholic, while also insisting that allegations that he and his wife misused his congressional staff to perform personal errands are “a series of half truths and whole lies” that were “more driven by Republicans than Democrats.” His departure means Virginia Republicans will now have to pick a replacement candidate in the 5th District to face Democrat Leslie Cockburn in a race Virginia Democrats have targeted. (Posted May 29)

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STATE PRIMARY WRAP: STACEY ABRAMS WINS DEMOCRATIC NOD FOR GEORGIA GOVERNOR

Abrams

Abrams made history in Georgia’s May 22 Democratic primary for governor, crushing her opponent to become the first African American woman ever nominated by a major political party in a U.S. state. Georgia Republicans will have a July runoff between Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp. In Arkansas, Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson won his primary and will face Democratic winner Jared Henderson. Texas Democrats picked former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez to face Republican Governor Greg Abbott. (Posted May 23)

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U.S. HOUSE PRIMARY WRAP: FIGHTER PILOT AMY MCGRATH TOPS PARTY-PICKED RIVAL IN KENTUCKY

McGrath

In a year in which women candidates have been making noise nationally, McGrath, a former Marine fighter pilot whose call sign was “Krusty,” made her own statement in Kentucky’s Bluegrass country by winning the Democratic nomination for the 6th District seat over Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, who had been recruited to run by Washington party leaders. Meanwhile, in primaries in Georgia, Arkansas and Texas, Democrats narrowed the fields in races for seven GOP-held seats that are being targeted in November. (Posted May 23)

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COAL BARON DON BLANKENSHIP TRIES 3RD-PARTY RUN FOR WEST VIRGINIA U.S. SENATE SEAT

Blankenship

Two weeks after coming in a distant third in a GOP primary, Blankenship, a former coal baron who went to prison for his role in a deadly 2010 mine disaster, has accepted the Constitution Party’s nomination for the seat, a move that could harm Republican prospects for ousting incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Joe Manchin. However, Blankenship will need to get past the state’s “sour grapes” law that prevents losing primary candidates from running under the banner of a third party. (Posted May 21)

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NORTH CAROLINA U.S. REP. ROBERT PITTENGER OUSTED; RACES SET IN 3 TARGET DISTRICTS

Harris

Pittenger became the first incumbent to go down to defeat in the 2018 election cycle after losing the May 8 primary in the state’s 9th District to Mark Harris, a prominent Baptist pastor from Charlotte. Harris will now face Democrat Dan McCready, who has already raised $1.9 million to run for a seat Democrats have high hopes of flipping. Two other GOP incumbents, U.S. Rep. George Holding in the 2nd District and U.S. Rep. Ted Budd in the 13th District, are also on the Democrats’ target list. (Posted May 9)

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LIBERAL FIREBRAND ALAN GRAYSON IS SEEKING HIS OLD FLORIDA U.S. HOUSE SEAT

Grayson

Grayson’s effort to reclaim the 9th District post he gave up to make an ill-fated U.S. Senate run in 2016 sets up a Democratic primary with U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, who claimed Grayson’s seat two years ago after defeating Grayson’s wife. In a sign of how much Florida’s other Democratic congressman do not want to see the return of the outspoken Grayson, they have collectively endorsed Soto. The metro Orlando district has a growing Puerto Rican population, a plus for Soto, Florida’s first congressman of Puerto Rican descent. (Posted May 1)

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FLORIDA REPUBLICAN U.S. REP. DENNIS ROSS ANNOUNCES HE WON’T SEEK RE-ELECTION

Ross

Ross’s decision not seek a fifth term in November opens up a congressional seat in Tampa’s eastern suburbs. His announcement came shortly after House Speaker Paul Ryan announced he too was retiring from Congress, amid projections of a Democratic wave that could flip control of the House this year. Ross said he would resume his law practice and pursue “opportunities to increase civic education for our youth.” Ross had been considered a prohibitive favorite to retain the 15th District seat, where he was being challenged by six little-known Democrats. (Posted April 11)

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GOP FLORIDA GOVERNOR RICK SCOTT WILL CHALLENGE DEMOCRATIC U.S. SENATOR BILL NELSON

Scott

Criticizing “career politicians” who have left Washington “dysfunctional,” Scott made official what was widely expected — he will take on Nelson in what is likely to be a hugely expensive battle for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat, with control of the chamber in the balance. At his April 9 announcement, Scott touted his record of job creation and tax cuts during his two terms as governor and called on Floridians to “stop sending talkers to Washington. Let’s send doers.” Nelson is seeking his fourth term. (Posted April 9)

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U.S. SUPREME COURT STAYS RULING INVALIDATING NORTH CAROLINA’S U.S. HOUSE MAP

The high court has indefinitely put on hold a ruling by a panel of three federal judges that invalidated the Tar Heel State’s congressional map for unconstitutionally diluting the voting strength of Democrats. The January 18 decision by the high court means state legislators will not have to redraw the map for the 2018 midterm election, a prospect that threatened to throw the election process into chaos. Two members of the court’s liberal bloc, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, opposed the stay requested by Republican lawmakers. (Posted January 19)

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GOP KEEPS CONTROL OF VIRGINIA HOUSE OF DELEGATES AFTER DRAWING DECIDES WINNER

Yancey

Republicans have kept control of the Virginia House of Delegates after a random drawing to settle a race in that remained tied after a disputed recount. Republican Delegate David Yancey will get to keep his seat after his name was drawn from a bowl by the chairman of the State Board of Elections. But Yancey’s Democratic challenger, Shelly Simonds, refused to concede and said “all options are on the table,” including possible legal action to contest the outcome. With Yancey’s win, Republicans will hold 51 seats in the House of Delegates, to 49 for Democrats. (Posted January 4)

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ALABAMA DEMOCRAT DOUG JONES SWORN IN AS U.S. SENATOR, NARROWING GOP MARGIN

U.S. Senator Doug Jones is sworn in. (Courtesy C-SPAN)

Jones was officially sworn in as a U.S. senator on January 3, capping the remarkable and improbable political feat of capturing a Senate seat in one of the nation’s most Republican states. Flanked by former Vice President Joe Biden, Jones took the oath of office from Vice President Mike Pence, alongside Democrat Tina Smith, who assumed the Senate seat from Minnesota vacated by Al Franken. Jones now holds the seat once held by his mentor and former boss, the late U.S. Senator Howell Heflin, who was the last Democrat to represent the Yellowhammer State when he retired in 1997. With Jones in the Senate, Republicans will hold a scant 51-49 advantage. (Posted January 3)

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ANALYSIS: SOUTH IS GOP’S ACE IN THE HOLE TO KEEP CONTROL OF U.S. HOUSE IN 2018

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics editor

With President Trump’s approval ratings at historically low levels, Democrats have high hopes of taking back the U.S. House in 2018. But those hopes are tempered by a giant geographic obstacle standing in their way — namely, the South. To reclaim the House, Democrats need to flip 24 seats, shifting about 10 percent of the seats that Republicans now hold. But a 10 percent shift in the South would require winning 11 seats, and, if Democrats fall short of that total, they will need to shift an even higher percentage of seats throughout the rest of the country — as much as 19 percent if they come up empty in the South. And as right now, they have a realistic shot at flipping just seven Southern seats, five of which have been in Republican hands for decades and only one of which is currently open. (Posted July 12)

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