Chicken Fried Politics

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TEXAS U.S. SENATE DEBATE: CRUZ, O’ROURKE SPAR OVER HEALTH CARE, TAXES — AND TRUMP

O’Rourke and Cruz debate (Courtesy KENS)

Meeting to face-to-face for the second and likely last time, Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz and his Democratic challenger, U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke, sparred over immigration and border security, energy policy, health care, abortion, tax cuts and, no surprise, President Trump, who is about to bring his rally roadshow to Texas on Cruz’s behalf. Throughout the October 16 debate in San Antonio, Cruz painted O’Rourke as an extremist beholden to “left-wing national activists” who supports “socialized medicine” and whose views are out of step with most conservative Texans. O’Rourke, in turn, accused Cruz of being “all talk and no action” and more interested in his national political ambitions and the welfare of corporate interests than representing the people of his state in the Senate. (Posted October 16)

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TRUMP TRAVELS TO THE KENTUCKY BLUEGRASS TO STUMP FOR GOP U.S. REP. ANDY BARR

The president came to Richmond for one of his Make America Great Again rallies in the commonwealth’s 6th U.S. House District, where Barr is in a political dogfight with his Democratic challenger, political newcomer Amy McGrath. Trump blasted McGrath as an “extreme liberal” who was “chosen by Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters … and the radical Democrat mob.” In response, McGrath released a one-sentence statement to the media: “Mr. President, you clearly don’t know me. Yet.”

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BLACKBURN, BREDESEN CLASH OVER IMMIGRATION, GUNS, KAVANAUGH IN U.S. SENATE DEBATE

Click photo to watch full debate (Courtesy: Nexstar Broadcasting)

With polls showing a tight U.S. Senate race in Tennessee, Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn and former Democratic Governor Phil Bredesen tangled over health care, immigration, gun rights and the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh in their second and final debate. Throughout the October 10 event at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Blackburn sought to tie Bredesen to Hillary Clinton and other national Democrats; Bredesen insisted he would act “independently” in the Senate. (Posted October 11)

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U.N. AMBASSADOR NIKKI HALEY WILL LEAVE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION AT YEAR’S END

Haley with Trump at the White House (White House pool)

Haley, the former South Carolina governor, made the surprise announcement at the White House sitting next to the man who appointed her, President Donald Trump, who told reporters that Haley has “done an incredible job.” Haley said that after six years as governor and two years in the U.N. post, she wanted to leave government service and return to private life, although she did not announce any specific plans. But she did rule out a White House run in 2020, saying she plans to campaign for Trump. (Posted October 10)

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TAYLOR SWIFT SENDS BAD BLOOD MARSHA BLACKBURN’S WAY; REPUBLICANS SHAKE IT OFF

Taylor Swift

In an Instagram endorsement of two Democratic candidates,  Swift, a long-time Tennessee resident who rarely enters the political fray, said the voting record of Republican U.S. Senate candidate  Marsha Blackburn “appalls and terrifies me” The National Republican Senatorial Committee shot back, characterizing Swift as a “multimillionaire pop star” who “came down from her ivory tower to tell hardworking Tennesseans” how to vote. President Donald Trump said he likes Swift’s music “25 percent less” after her comments. (Posted October 8)

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WEST VIRGINIA U.S. SENATOR JOE MANCHIN BREAKS RANKS TO SUPPORT BRETT KAVANAUGH

Joe Manchin

Manchin said he would support Kavanaugh’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court despite “reservations” because of accusations of sexual assault leveled against President Trump’s embattled nominee. Manchin, the only Democrat to break ranks to support Kavanaugh, called him “a qualified jurist who will follow the Constitution and determine cases based on the legal findings before him.” Four other Southern Democrats — Mark Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia, Bill Nelson of Florida, and Doug Jones of Alabama — voted no. (Posted October 6)

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INSIGHT: SOUTHERN REPUBLICANS FIND THEMSELVES PLAYING DEFENSE IN 2018 U.S HOUSE RACES

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

A month away from the 2018 midterm election, Republicans in the South are finding themselves in a situation they haven’t faced in several election cycles — playing defense in U.S. House races. Currently, at least 30 seats are either highly or potentially competitive across the 14 Southern states. And not one of those seats is now held by a Democrat. This fluid situation stands in stark contrast to 2016, when Democrats managed to take away just two seats anywhere in the South, and in 2014, when Democrats suffered a net loss of three seats. (Posted October 6)

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TENNESSEE DEMOCRATIC SENATE CANDIDATE BREDESEN SAYS HE WON’T SUPPORT SCHUMER

Bredesen

Former Governor Phil Bredesen has announced that if elected to an open U.S. Senate seat, he won’t support Chuck Schumer of New York to continue as his party’s Senate leader. Bredesen, locked in a close race with GOP U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, told a debate audience that “I think a lot of the problem in Washington is with the leadership that we have there now. Whether it be (House Speaker Paul) Ryan or (House Minority Leader Nancy) Pelosi or (Senate Majority Leader Mitch) McConnell or Schumer, they’re not doing the job,” Bredensen said. (Posted September 27)

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(Posted September26/Source: Tennesseean via YouTube)

DEBATE WATCH: TEXAS U.S SENATE, TED CRUZ (R) VS. BETO O’ROURKE (D)


(Posted September 22/Source: NBC via YouTube)

POLL: TED CRUZ HOLDS 9-POINT LEAD OVER BETO O’ROURKE IN TEXAS U.S. SENATE RACE

Ted Cruz

A new poll of likely voters shows that Democratic hopes — and Republican fears — of a competitive race this November may be overblown. A Quinnipiac University poll found that the Republican incumbent, Cruz, held a 54 to 45 percent lead over O’Rourke, his Democratic challenger, which was outside the poll’s margin of error. Women and voters who classify themselves as independents were evenly divided between the two candidates, but men favored Cruz by 15 points, and he led by 34 points among white voters. (Posted September 21)

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U.S. REP. RALPH NORMAN’S JOKE ABOUT RUTH BADER GINSBURG GETTING GROPED DRAWS FIRE

Norman

The South Carolina Republican, who pulled out a loaded gun while meeting constituents back in May, is facing fresh criticism for his humorous take on sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brent Kavanaugh. Norman told a debate audience that “Ruth Bader Ginsburg came out that she was groped by Abraham Lincoln.” Norman’s Democratic opponent, Archie Parnell — who resisted pressure to leave the race after admitting he was “violent” with an ex-wife — accused Norman of treating sexual assault as a “joke.” (Posted September 21)

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NOMINEES FOR FLORIDA GOVERNOR SETTLE ON NUÑEZ, KING AS THEIR RUNNING MATES

Chris King

Jeanette Nuñez

The Republican nominee for governor, U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, picked State Rep. Jeanette Nuñez, a Cuban-American legislator from Miami. The Democratic nominee, Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, picked Chris King, an Orlando businessman who ran against him in the primary. The selection of Nuñez is noteworthy because of her previous criticism of President Donald Trump, a close ally of DeSantis whom she once described as a “con man.” Asked about her anti-Trump comments after her selection, Nuñez said, “It is what it is.” (Posted September 6)

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PANEL OF JUDGES HEARING NORTH CAROLINA REDISTRICTING CASE WON’T IMPOSE NEW MAP

Less than a week after threatening to throw North Carolina’s congressional election into chaos by redrawing its electoral map, a panel of three federal judges has reversed course and decided not to move forward with a redraw before November. In a September 4 order, the judges decided that there wasn’t enough time to draw a new map and that altering the current election schedule would confuse voters. The order puts on hold a August 27 decision striking down the map drawn by North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature as an unconstitutional gerrymander designed to disadvantage Democrats.  (Posted September 6)

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KENTUCKY GOVERNOR MATT BEVIN ANNOUNCES HE WILL SEEK SECOND TERM IN 2019

Bevin

After months of being tight-lipped about his political plans, Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin says he will run for re-election in 2019, amid the fallout from a teachers’ strike earlier this year that roiled state politics. His decision sets up a possible battle with Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear, who has used the powers of his office to become a significant thorn in the governor’s side. Bevin told a state GOP gathering in Lexington that “there was not a chance that I was going to walk away and leave the seeds that we’ve put in the ground to be trampled.” (Posted August 28)

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BLOW AGAINST GRAFT OR POWER GRAB? WEST VIRGINIA HOUSE IMPEACHES SUPREME COURT

The GOP-controlled House of Delegates voted to impeach the four remaining members of the state’s highest court over allegations of overspending and mismanagement — a move that could cement GOP control by allowing Governor Jim Justice to pick their replacements. The House approved 11 articles of impeachment against Chief Justice Margaret Workman and three other justices, sending the matter to the Senate for trail. One of the impeached justices, Robin Davis, promptly resigned to trigger a fall election and prevent the governor from appointing her successor. (Posted August 15)

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4 SOUTHERN CONGRESSMEN JOIN SHORT-LIVED EFFORT TO IMPEACH DEPUTY AG ROD ROSENSTEIN

Four Southern Republicans — Mark Meadows of North Carolina, Jody Hice of Georgia, Matt Gaetz of Florida and Scott DesJarlais of Tennessee — were part of a group of 11 Freedom Caucus members who introduced articles of impeachment against Rosenstein, who is overseeing the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. But the effort quickly fizzled after running into opposition from House Speaker Paul Ryan and other GOP leaders. Now, instead, the group will seek to hold Rosenstein in contempt of Congress if the Justice Department does not fully comply with requests for documents about the Russia probe. (Posted July 27)

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KENTUCKY ATTORNEY GENERAL ANDY BESHEAR ANNOUNCES BID TO OUST GOVERNOR MATT BEVIN

Beshear at rally in Bowling Green (CFP/Rich Shumate)

Beshear, the first Democrat to enter the governor’s race, launched his campaign in a two-day swing across the commonwealth during which he took a dig at Bevin with a pledge to “set a standard for transparency and decency” in Frankfort. Beshear and Bevin have been at war — legally and rhetorically — since 2016, including a pending court fight over a pension reform bill that prompted thousands of public school teachers to protest at the State Capitol earlier this year. Reflecting the political potency of the education issue, Beshear selected as his running mate Jacqueline Coleman, 36, a civics teacher and high school basketball coach who was active in the protest movement. (Posted July 10)

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U.S. SUPREME COURT LETS GOP-DRAWN U.S. HOUSE MAPS STAND IN TEXAS AND NORTH CAROLINA

Republican legislators in Texas and North Carolina have both dodged a bullet after the U.S. Supreme Court refused to invalidate congressional maps in both states that lower courts had struck down as illegally gerrymandered. In the Texas case, the justices rejected a claim that state legislators impermissibly used race to draw electoral maps. In the North Carolina case, they vacated a lower court decision holding that the state’s map unconstitutionally diluted the voting strength of Democrats and ordered the case to be reconsidered. The high court’s decisions mean that neither state is likely to face a redraw in this election cycle and may be able to use the current maps until new maps are drawn after the 2020 census. (Posted June 26)

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BAYOU LOVE TANGLE: RUDY GIULIANI’S ROMANCE DRAGS TRUMP INTO LOUISIANA U.S. HOUSE RACE

Giuliani

Rudy Giuliani’s intervention on behalf of Josh Guillory, a challenger in a congressional primary in the Louisiana bayou who employs Giuliani’s new girlfriend as a fundraiser, has angered state GOP leaders and prompted President Trump’s re-election campaign to issue an endorsement of incumbent Republican U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins in the 3rd U.S. District. Jennifer LeBlanc, who Giuliani says he began seeing in May, worked for Higgins before changing camps. Giuliani is scheduled to headline a June 25 fundraiser for Guillory. (Posted June 23)

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