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S. CAROLINA U.S. REP. NANCY MACE LONE SOUTHERN REPUBLICAN SUPPORTING BANNON CONTEMPT

Nancy Mace

Mace was one of just nine Republicans to vote to hold former Donald Trump adviser Steve Bannon in contempt of Congress for refusing to cooperate with the panel investigating the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. The House voted 229 to 220 on October 21 to hold Bannon in contempt for refusing to comply with the committee’s subpoenas for documents and a deposition. Mace, a first-term lawmaker already facing three 2022 primary challengers in her Lowcountry district, cast her politically risky vote as a defense of the Constitution and warned Republicans that they are better off leaving the subpoena power intact in case they take the House majority next year. (Posted October 23)

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FLORIDA STATE SENATE ANNETTE TADDEO JUMPS IN DEMOCRATIC RACE FOR GOVERNOR

Annette Taddeo

Taddeo’s entry into the race puts a new wrinkle in what had been a two-horse race for the right to face Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. If elected, Taddeo, 54, who represents a Miami-Dade district in the Senate, would be the state’s first Latina governor. Her entry sets up a primary battle against U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist and Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried. Taddeo said she entered the race after encouragement from people around the state, which she said showed her that there was “real hunger for a fighter and a leader who will actually bring the coalition that we need here to win.” (Posted October 18)

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BLACK SOUTHERN U.S. SENATE CANDIDATES RAISING IMPRESSIVE AMOUNTS OF CAMPAIGN CASH

Warnock and Scott

African American candidates have historically faced a structural barrier in gaining election to high office — difficulty raising the money needed to run a competitive race. But in 2022, black candidates appear to be kicking down that barrier in Southern U.S. Senate races. Six Southern African American candidates have each raised more than $1 million, three have raised more than $10 million, and Democratic U.S Senator Raphael Warnock of Georgia leads all Senate candidates nationwide at $44 million, with Republican U.S. Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina not far behind at at $31 million. Four other Southern black candidates trying to join Scott and Warnock in the Senate are also pulling in impressive amounts of campaign money, the possession of which doesn’t ensure victory but the absence of which would certainly spell defeat. (Posted October 17)

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TERRY MCAULIFFE, GLENN YOUNGKIN SQUARE OFF IN 2ND VIRGINIA GOVERNORS DEBATE

FIRST GOP REDRAW OF TEXAS U.S. HOUSE MAPS REDUCES MAJORITY-MINORITY DISTRICTS

First look at Texas U.S. House map

Texas is getting two new seats in the U.S. House because of the state’s explosive population growth, most of which was because of increasing numbers of black, Hispanic and Asian residents over the last decade. But the first legislative plan to redraw the state’s congressional maps, released September 27, actually reduces the number of majority-minority districts, drawing immediate howls of protest from advocacy groups and promises of protracted litigation. The first draw of the state’s map — proposed by State Senator Joan Huffman of Houston, who heads the Senate’s redistricting committee – is the starting point of the fight over new maps, taking place in a special session that began September 20. (Posted September 27)

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GEORGIA BUSINESSWOMAN ENTERS GOP PRIMARY TO UNSEAT U.S. REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE

Jennifer Strahan

Saying “this is not the time for unserious politicians who just want to hear themselves talk,” Georgia health care consultant Jennifer Strahan has launched a Republican primary challenge to Greene, whose tumultuous tenure in Congress has trailed clouds of controversy. Strahan’s entry in the race will sets up what is likely to be one of the most contentious GOP primary contests of the 2022 cycle, with the polarizing Greene a magnet for campaign cash from both her detractors and her admirers. Four Democrats have also entered the race to unseat Greene but would be long shots in the overwhelmingly Republican 14th District, which takes in the state’s northwest corner. (Posted September 15)

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GENIUS OR GIMMICK? GEORGIA REPUBLICANS PUT U.S. SENATE HOPES ON HERSCHEL WALKER

Picture of Georgia U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker

Herschel Walker

Are Georgia Republicans ready to hand their U.S. Senate nomination to a man who has never run for political office, hasn’t lived in the Peach State for decades, and has a personal history that includes mental health struggles and an ex-wife with a restraining order? With Donald Trump’s enthusiastic endorsement, Hall of Fame football hero Herschel Walker enters the race as the clear front-runner for the Republican nomination to take on Democratic U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock next year.  But with control of the Senate on the line, nominating Walker is certainly not the safest path, given the questions he will face about his politics and his past. (Posted August 25)

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IS DEMOGRAPHY DESTINY? NEW CENSUS DATA SHOWS CHALLENGES AHEAD FOR SOUTHERN GOP

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

Take a map showing population shifts across the South over the last 10 years and put it over a map of where Joe Biden performed best in 2020, and the connection will appear obvious. The counties in the South that have gained population — large cities and surrounding suburbs — are the same places where Biden did well; the counties that shrank — rural areas and small towns — were places where Donald Trump rolled. New, detailed, local-level data released August 12 by the U.S. Census Bureau show that when Republicans across the South redraw lines for congressional and legislative districts to equalize population, maximizing their partisan advantage will be much trickier than it was a decade ago due to larger populations of black and brown voters and surges in suburban areas where Democrats have made gains. (Posted August 16)

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BIG RISK: DESANTIS AND ABBOTT DOUBLE DOWN ON MANDATES DESPITE COVID’S UNPREDICABILITY

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

Ron DeSantis and Greg Abbott

A number of Southern Republican political leaders — most notably, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Texas Governor Greg Abbott — have decided to take a huge gamble; namely, to lead the charge against new COVID-19 restrictions, despite the Delta variant ripping across their states, filling up hospitals and stretching front-line workers to their breaking point. It’s an experiment — literally — that is particularly risky given that one of the populations being experimented are hundreds of thousands of school children, whose parents cannot get them COVID-19 vaccinations even if they want to.

If DeSantis and Abbott are right — that all of the doomsaying and caterwauling by public health officials is an overblown overreaction — their gamble is likely to delight their base and pay dividends when they come up for re-election next year. But if they are wrong — if busloads of children start getting sick or dying — these current prohibitive favorites could find themselves in electoral trouble. Which begs the question, is it worth the risk? (Posted August 8)

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TEXAS GOP STATE REP. JAKE ELLZEY WINS U.S. HOUSE RUNOFF OVER TRUMP-BACKED RIVAL

Jake Ellzey

Ellzey claimed Texas’s 6th U.S. House District seat in Tuesday’s all-Republican runoff, defeating Susan Wright, who was trying to keep the seat of her late husband, U.S. Rep. Ron Wright. The result was a blow to former President Donald Trump, who endorsed Wright and publicly supported her candidacy in the final stretch. His super PAC also dropped $100,000 in a last minute advertising buy. Ellzey took 53% in the runoff to 47% for Wright to win a district that includes Arlington and parts of Tarrant County, along with Ellis and Navarro counties to the south. The all-party special election was called after Ron Wright’s death from COVID-19, while undergoing cancer treatment in February. (Posted July 28)

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SECOND TIME’S A CHARM? CHARLES BOOKER MAKES 2ND TRY FOR KENTUCKY U.S. SENATE SEAT

Charles Booker

When he launched his first run for the U.S. Senate in 2020, few observers gave Charles Booker a snowball’s chance in a Kentucky August. He was just 32, had served in the legislature for just one year, and was trying to wrestle the Democratic nomination away from Amy McGrath, a fundraising powerhouse backed by Democratic leaders. But then, Booker’s leading role in protests in Louisville after the shooting death of Breonna Taylor caught the imagination of Democratic left, and he nearly upset McGrath. A year later, he’s now trying the impossible again, this time with a run for the state’s other U.S. Senate seat, held by Republican U.S. Senator Rand Paul. (Posted July 4)

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