Chicken Fried Politics

LATEST COVERAGE

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

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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

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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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MURDER PLOT? SECRET RECORDING ROILS GOP RACE IN FLORIDA’S 13TH U.S. HOUSE DISTRICT

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Anna Paulina Luna

Florida Republican congressional candidate Anna Paulina Luna’s claim that her political rivals were plotting to murder her raised skeptical eyebrows when she made the charge in a court application asking for stalking protection. But then, Politico obtained a recording in which a man identified as her political rival, William Braddock, is heard bragging that he has access to a “hit squad” of “Ukrainians and Russians” prepared to make Luna “disappear” if she closes in on the Republican nomination in the 13th U.S. House District in Pinellas County, roiling the race for one of the GOP’s best 2022 pick-up opportunities. (Posted June 18)

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TERRY MCAULIFFE WINS DEMOCRATIC NOMINATION IN BID TO RECLAIM VIRGINIA GOVERNORSHIP

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Terry McAuliffe

McAuliffe, who served as governor from 2014 to 2018, easily won the June 8 Democratic primary to set up what is likely to be a bruising general election campaign against Republican newcomer Glenn Youngkin. Attorney General Mark Herring also saw off a challenge from the left in his quest to win a third term, and State Delegate Hala Ayala made history by winning the Democratic nod for lieutenant governor, becoming first Hispanic woman to win nomination to statewide office. Her win also insures that Virginia will have its first female lieutenant governor, as Republicans chose Winsome Sears, an African-American woman, in a nominating convention in May. (Posted June 9)

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BUSH SCION GEORGE P. BUSH LAUNCHES PRIMARY CHALLENGE FOR TEXAS ATTORNEY GENERAL

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George P Bush

Bush, who serves as Texas land commissioner, will seek the Republican nomination attorney general in 2022, in a bid to oust incumbent Ken Paxton, who is facing a criminal trial and an FBI investigation. In his kickoff rally, Bush — the grandson and nephew of U.S. presidents with the most famous family name in Texas politics — warned conservatives that Paxton was a “weak link” who would lose the office to Democrats if he were nominated again. Paxton, serving his second term as attorney general, is facing trial on securities fraud charges stemming from before his time as attorney general, and the FBI launched a criminal investigation in 2020 after several of his top aides publicly accused him of misusing his office to help a wealthy campaign contributor. (Posted June 3)

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FLORIDA AGRICULTURE COMMISSIONER NIKKI FRIED LAUNCHES DEMOCRATIC RUN FOR GOVERNOR

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Nikki Fried

Fried, the only Democrat holding statewide office, launched her campaign on Twitter with a call for her fellow Floridians to help her “break the system” and end what she calls two decades of Republican corruption of state government. A former public defender and lobbyist for the marijuana industry, she won a narrow, surprise victory for agriculture commissioner in 2018 as a urban Democrat, a position usually associated with rural and farming interests, and has since become a fierce critic of Republican Governor Ron DeSantis. But before Fried can get to him, she’ll have to win a competitive primary over U.S. Rep. Charlie Crist from St. Petersburg, who served as governor from 2007 to 2011 as a Republican, and possibly State Senator Annette Taddeo, an Hispanic lawmaker from Miami-Dade. (Posted June 2)

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VIDEO: PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN ADDRESSES CENTENNIAL COMMEMORATION OF TULSA RACE MASSACRE

LOUISIANA U.S. SENATOR BILL CASSIDY ONLY SOUTHERN REPUBLICAN TO SUPPORT JAN. 6 COMMISSION

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U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana

Cassidy stood alone among his Southern Republican colleagues in supporting formation of an independent bipartisan commission to investigate the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol, which died after supporters fell six votes short of the 60 votes needed to break a Republican filibuster led by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who said the panel would add an “extraneous layer” of investigation. All five Southern Senate Democrats — Tim Kaine and Mark Warner of Virginia, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, and Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock of Georgia — voted in favor . Eighteen Southern Republicans voted no, while four did not vote, including Richard Burr of North Carolina, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, and Richard Shelby of Alabama. (Posted May 29)

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TAKING VIRGINIA BACK: HOW REPUBLICANS HOPE TO RIDE LIBERAL BACKLASH BACK INTO POWER

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

VirginiaAfter Democrats took control of all of the levers of power in Richmond 2020, they got to work on a host of liberal priorities — gun control, LGBTQ rights, removing abortion restrictions, climate change, capital punishment, marijuana legalization — that left Republicans across the Old Dominion angry and reeling. Now, the GOP hopes to ride a backlash to Democratic rule in Richmond to reclaim power in this year’s off-year election, with most of the focus on the battle for control of the House of Delegates and the governor’s race between Republican newcomer Glenn Youngkin and his likely Democratic opponent, Terry McAuliffe. What happens in Virginia this year could provide a template for Republicans nationally hoping to benefit from a similar backlash to the Biden administration. (Posted May 20)

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BOLD MOVE OR FOOL’S ERRAND? DEMINGS TAKES ON RUBIO IN FLORIDA U.S. SENATE RACE

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

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Val Demings

Florida Democratic U.S. Rep. Val Demings burst onto the national political scene in early 2020 when she was picked as a House impeachment manager to make the case against Donald Trump — so much so that she soon found herself on Joe Biden’s vice presidential short list and was chattered about as a possible Cabinet secretary. Now, Demings had decided to give up her safe House seat in Orlando after just three terms to run against Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio next year, as Democrats fight to hang on to their slim Senate majority. While her run will no doubt excite the Democratic base, she faces a daunting uphill climb in trying to unseat Rubio, given his deep roots in Miami’s Cuban-American community and his deftness in navigating the Trump headwinds in his party. (Posted May 18)

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POLITICAL NEWCOMER GLENN YOUNGKIN WINS VIRGINIA GOP’S NOMINATION FOR GOVERNOR

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Glenn Youngkin

Youngkin, a wealthy outsider making his first run for political office, defeated six rivals to win the nomination, setting up what will likely be a high-spending and highly contested fall match-up with Democratic former governor Terry McAuliffe. Youngkin secured a majority after six rounds of counting ranked-choice votes cast by delegates during Saturday’s statewide drive-thru convention, capturing 55% of the weighted delegate vote to defeat his last remaining rival, Pete Snyder, a venture capitalist who was the GOP nominee for lieutenant governor in 2013. State Senator Amanda Chase from Chesterfield County — who describes herself as “Trump in heels” and has been threatening to bolt the party to run as an independent — finished third. (Posted May 11)

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HERE HE GOES AGAIN: CHARLIE CRIST LEAVING CONGRESS TO RUN FOR FLORIDA GOVERNOR

Charlie Crist announces run

He’s run for 10 times for six different offices over the past three decades and has been, at various times, a Republican, an independent and a Democrat. And now Florida U.S. Rep. harlie Crist is giving up his relatively safe seat in Congress to once again seek the state’s top office as a Democrat that he once held as a Republican. Crist announced Tuesday that he would forgo re-election to his 13th District seat in order to challenge Republican Governor Ron DeSantis in 2022. But he may face a battle for the Democratic nomination with Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, who is expected to run, and U.S. Rep. Val Demings, who is considering her own bid. (Posted May 4)

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ALL-REPUBLICAN RUNOFF SET BETWEEN WRIGHT AND ELLZEY FOR VACANT TEXAS U.S. HOUSE SEAT

Wright and Ellzey

Susan Wright, the widow of the late Republican U.S. Rep. Ron Wright, claimed first place Saturday in a special election to fill his Texas’s 6th U.S. House District seat and will now face fellow Republican State Rep. Jake Ellzey in a runoff. Democrat Jana Lynne Sanchez finished just 354 votes behind Ellzey, narrowly missing a chance to set up her party to flip a suburban district in metro Dallas-Fort Worth that Donald Trump carried by just 3 points in November. Michael Wood — a businessman and former Marine Corps officer who ran openly in the race as an anti-Trump Republican and charged that the GOP has devolved into a “cult of personality” — finished ninth in the 23-person field, showing the limits of that strategy in pro-Trump Texas. (Posted May 2)

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SOUTH CAROLINA U.S. SENATOR TIM SCOTT GIVES GOP RESPONSE TO JOE BIDEN’S ADDRESS

FORMER DEMOCRATIC U.S. REP. JOE CUNNINGHAM RUNNING FOR SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR

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Joe Cunningham

Cunningham officially launched his 2022 campaign for governor on April 26 with a broadside against the Republican establishment that has reigned supreme in Columbia for two decades and incumbent Republican Governor Henry McMaster, saying that “the challenges that we face are not because of our people. They’re because of our politicians.” Cunningham, 38, a Charleston lawyer, shocked the political world in 2018 with his win in the state’s 1st District, part of a Democratic wave that swept the party to House control. However, he could not hold the seat in 2020, losing to Republican Nancy Mace despite raising and spending more than $7 million during the race. (Posted April 26)

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TEXAS, NORTH CAROLINA, FLORIDA TO GAIN U.S. HOUSE SEATS; WEST VIRGINIA WILL LOSE SEAT

WashingtonThe U.S. Census Bureau released population totals for reapportionment of U.S. House seats Monday that will alter the size of delegations in four Southern states. Fast-growing Texas will be the biggest winner, gaining two seats to take its delegation to 38 members. Florida will get one new seat to go to 28, and North Carolina will gain one seat to go to 14. However, West Virginia will lose one of its three seats, which could force Republican incumbents to run against each other in newly configured, larger districts. Alabama dodged a bullet, keeping all of its seven seats; Georgia did not gain a seat for the first time in 40 years. (Posted April 26)

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FORMER GEORGIA GOP U.S. REP. DOUG COLLINS WILL NOT SEEK STATEWIDE OFFICE IN 2022

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Doug Collins

In an announcement on Twitter, Collins said he would not run against Democratic U.S. Senator Raphael Warnock or launch a primary challenge to Governor Brian Kemp. Collins, 54, from Gainesville, was elected to represent Georgia’s 9th U.S. House District in 2012 but gave up the seat to run in a special election for a vacant U.S. Senate seat in 2020. He finished third in an all-party contest, which Warnock won in a runoff. After the 2020 election, Donald Trump, unhappy that Kemp wasn’t doing more to help him overturn his election loss in Georgia, had publicly urged Collins to challenge Kemp in this year’s GOP primary. (Posted April 26)

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LOUISIANA DEMOCRATIC STATE SENATOR TROY CARTER WINS U.S. HOUSE RUNOFF

Troy Carter

The Democratic establishment has claimed another victory in its ongoing battle with progressive insurgents, with Carter winning an intra-party runoff Saturday to claim the 2nd U.S. House District seat. Carter won 55 percent of the vote to 45 percent for State Senator Karen Carter-Peterson. He  will replace Cedric Richmond, who resigned to take a job as the White House public engagement director in the Biden administration. The majority black 2nd District includes most of New Orleans and part of Baton Rouge, along with the River Parishes between the two cities. His win will expand the narrow Democratic majority in the House from two to three seats, with three Democratic-leaning seats also vacant in Florida, New Mexico and Ohio. (Posted April 25)

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AMTRAK PLANS TO USE BIDEN INFRASTRUCTURE FUNDING TO EXPAND SOUTHERN RAIL SERVICE

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As the Biden administration tries to cobble together political support for its massive $2.5 trillion infrastructure program, Amtrak has announced that it plans to use its share of the money to expand its national rail network, including significant additions across the South. In a plan unveiled April 1, Amtrak said it would add service to 12 Southern cities, as well as enhancing existing service in Texas, Florida and the corridor between Birmingham, Atlanta and Charlotte. Kentucky — the only state east of the Mississippi River currently without any Amtrak service — will finally be connected to the national network with a rail link between Louisville and Indianapolis. (Posted April 2)

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WATERGAETZ? FLORIDA U.S. REP. MATT GAETZ SUBJECT OF SEX TRAFFICKING INVESTIGATION

Matt Gaetz

In what is quickly becoming one of the year’s most bizarre political stories, Gaetz, a Florida Republican and stanch supporter of former President Donald Trump, is denying allegations that he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl but acknowledges he is under federal investigation for possible sex trafficking charges, as first reported by The New York Times. As headlines began to trumpet news of the investigation, Gaetz struck back by accusing a Florida attorney of trying to use the allegations to extort $25 million from his family, a charge that the attorney denies. (Posted March 31)

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