Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves will face former Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller Jr. in an August 27 runoff for the Republican nomination for governor, with the winner taking on Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood in November. Reeves took 49 percent in Tuesday’s GOP primary, just short of the majority he needed to avoid a runoff. Waller came in second place at 33 percent. State Rep. Robert Foster from DeSoto County, who received national press attention during the campaign after refusing to travel alone with a female reporter, finished third with 18 percent. Hood, as expected, easily won his primary over seven challengers, setting up what is likely to be the Magnolia State’s most competitive governor’s race in two decades. (Posted August 6)
Kentucky’s August political ritual, the Fancy Farm picnic, is known for tasty barbecue, hot weather and barbed comments coming from politicians on the stage. But the nastiness went into overdrive Saturday amid highly contentious governor’s race between Republican Governor Matt Bevin and Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear, with both men — and their supporters — making it abundantly clear just how much they do not like each other. Democrats heckled Bevin with chants of “Throw Him Out;” Republicans retorted with “Four More Years” and “Daddy’s Boy.” (Posted August 4)
In a sign that the derisive nickname recently attached to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may be taking hold in the political zeitgeist, a boisterous crowd of Democrats greeted him with chants of “Moscow Mitch” and waved Russian flags Saturday during his appearance at Kentucky’s famous Fancy Farm political picnic. Kentucky Democrats, who have been raising money by selling Russian-themed merchandise targeting the Senate leader, kept up the pressure at Saturday’s picnic, with shirts and signs connecting McConnell to Russia in the wake of his decision to derail election security bills in the Senate. One woman even sported a Russian fur hat in the 90-degree heat.
Hurd’s announcement, which comes just two weeks after he voted with Democrats to condemn President Donald Trump over his tweets about four liberal House members, opens up up a prime pickup opportunity for Democrats in West Texas. The former undercover CIA agent had been considered a rising star among House Republicans before his surprise announcement. He said in a statement that he was leaving “in order to pursue opportunities outside the halls of Congress to solve problems at the nexus between technology and national security.” Hurd is the third Texas House Republican so far to forgo re-election next year. (Posted August 2)
While majority of members of the Democratic caucus have now come out publicly in favor of launching an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, Southern members are showing more caution about taking that political plunge. As of August 1, just 17 of the 50 Southern Democrats in the House have called for an impeachment inquiry, all but two of whom represent safe Democratic or majority-minority districts where support for impeachment presents them with little future political peril. Just two of the 10 Southern Democrats who flipped Republican seats in 2018 have come out in favor of an impeachment inquiry, and none of the five Southern Democrats representing districts Trump carried in 2016 have taken that step. (Posted August 1)
Republican U.S. Rep. Martha Roby surprised the political world Friday by announcing that she won’t seek re-election, leaving two of Alabama’s seven House seats open during next year’s election. And as large fields of Republicans scramble in primaries for those seats, they’ll do so with the expectation that one of them could have but a brief stay in Congress, depending on how the political cards fall following the 2020 U.S. Census. Alabama is set to lose one of its seven seats during the next reapportionment, which could leave six Republicans competing for five seats come 2022. (Posted July 28)
Davis, a former Texas state senator whose 2014 run for governor started with high hopes but ended in a crushing 20-point defeat, will run for the 21st District U.S. House seat in 2020 against freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Roy in the Austin suburbs. She is the first high-profile Democrat to take on Roy, who finds himself on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s 2020 target list after winning the seat by less than 10,000 votes in 2018. Davis, 56, shot to national fame in 2013 by leading a filibuster against a bill that would have imposed new restrictions on legal abortion. (Posted July 22)
Topping the fundraising list midway through 2019 was U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham of South Carolina at $1.28 million, followed by Lucy McBath of Georgia at $1.15 million and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia at $1.12 million. Kendra Horn of Oklahoma raised $961,500, while in Virginia, Elaine Luria raised $865,400. All five hold significant leads in fundraising over their Republican rivals, although McBath’s GOP challengers have, together, raised more money than she has. The new numbers also show that Democratic challengers in targeted Southern Republican seats have had more fundraising success to date than GOP challengers in targeted Democrat seats. (Posted July 20)
Hurd, who represents a West Texas district carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016, was one of only four Republicans who voted for a resolution condemning President Donald Trump for “racist” tweets directed at four left-wing congresswomen, which passed the House on a largely party-line vote on July 16. Five Southern Democrats who represent districts Trump carried voted for the resolution, including Lucy McBath from Georgia, Kendra Horn from Oklahoma, Joe Cunningham from South Carolina, and Abigail Spanberger and Elaine Luria from Virginia. (Posted July 16)
A year after losing his Lowcountry congressional seat to a primary challenger endorsed by President Donald Trump, Sanford is considering trying to once again resurrect his political career with a long-shot challenge against Trump for the Republican presidential nomination in 2020. “Sometimes in life you’ve got to say what you’ve got to say, whether there’s an audience or not for that message,” Sanford said in an interview with the Post and Courier newspaper, where he teased his intentions. “I feel convicted.” (Posted July 16)
Morgan and Morgan may be “for the people,” but for Andrew Gillum, not so much. John Morgan, the Orlando lawyer and political mega donor who stars in TV ads for the law firm that bears his family’s name, has stepped up a nasty Twitter war with Gillum, the party’s defeated candidate for Florida governor in 2018, over Gillum’s decision to transfer leftover campaign money into a non-profit that doesn’t have to disclose how it spends the money. How nasty? Morgan signed off one Sunday tweet with, “Thank God for Florida that @GovRonDeSantis won.” Gillum fired right back: “I don’t live on your plantation and I don’t take advice from Trump impersonators & DeSantis suck ups.” (Posted July 15)
In a setback to the cause of adding to the thin ranks of Republican women in the U.S. House, Republicans in North Carolina’s 3rd District have chosen State Rep. Greg Murphy as their nominee for a special election for one of two vacant seats in the state’s delegation. Murphy, a urologist from Greenville, defeated Joan Perry, a pediatrician from Kinston, who received significant financial support from outside groups pushing to elect more Republican women to the House. (Posted July 9)
After nearly unseating a sitting Republican congressman in 2018, Democrat Amy McGrath has set her sights on a much bigger target in 2020 — the most powerful Republican in Congress, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The retired Marine fighter pilot announced July 9 that she will challenge McConnell next year, setting the stage for a marquee Senate battle with national implications that will submerge 4.5 million Kentuckians in a sea of negative advertising. McGrath pulled no punches in her launch video, saying the senator “was elected a lifetime ago and has, bit by bit, year by year, turned Washington into something we all despise.” McConnell’s campaign responded in kind, launching a website WrongPathMcGrath.com. (Posted July 9)
The querulous contest for Kentucky governor has descended to a completely new level of weird — with awkward Republican rap. In an effort to criticize Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear for accepting fundraising help from Hillary Clinton’s 2016 running mate, Tim Kaine, Republican Governor Matt Bevin posted a video in which he busts into rhyme, rap style. (Posted July 8)
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Just six months after being ejected from Congress, Taylor has announced he will run against Warner in Virginia’s 2020 Senate race, rather than seeking a rematch with Democratic U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria, who ousted the Republican from his 2nd District seat in 2018. The former Navy SEAL launched his campaign with a video calling for “a fresh start in the Senate,” along with criticism of Warner’s role in investigating the Trump-Russia “illusion of collusion.” Warner is seeking his third term in the Senate. (Posted July 8)
The House Ethics Committee will investigate whether Gaetz violated ethics rules when he posted a tweet directed toward President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, on the eve of his testimony to Congress. In the February 26 tweet, Gaetz asked, “Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat.” An subcommittee will investigate if the tweet was meant to threaten Cohen or influence his testimony. Gaetz, who denied the tweet was a threat, deleted it and apologized. (Posted June 28)
♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor
After Obamacare made its way through Congress in 2009, triggering the Tea Party rebellion, Republican-controlled Southern statehouses became a redoubt of opposition to what critics saw as meddlesome socialist overreach.
So when the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the Obama administration could not force states to expand Medicaid to cover more of their low-income residents, most Southern states took advantage of the decision and didn’t.
Today, nine of the 14 states that haven’t expanded Medicaid are in the South, leaving more than 2.3 million low-income Southerners who would qualify for Medicaid have no health care coverage at all. But there are some signs that the blanket opposition to expanding Medicaid may be retreating, albeit slightly and slowly, across the South. (Posted June 17)