Chicken Fried Politics

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INSIGHT: PRESIDENTIAL PRIMARY CALENDAR TURNS SOUTH WITH A VENGEANCE IN MARCH

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

Rich Shumate

The 2020 presidential primary calendar finally turns to the South on the last day of February, when South Carolina Democrats cast their ballots in their state’s first-in-the-South primary. Then, buckle up. The political version of March Madness is about to take off. During March, 10 Southern states will hold Democratic presidential primaries, with 981 delegates at stake — nearly 25 percent of the total pledged delegates who will officially pick the party’s presidential nominee in Milwaukee in July.

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GUILTY: DEMOCRATIC U.S. SENATORS DOUG JONES, JOE MANCHIN VOTE TO CONVICT DONALD TRUMP

Jones announces his verdict (From PBS via YouTube)

Jones, from Alabama and Manchin, from West Virginia, will likely face significant blowback for their guilty votes back in their home states, both of which Trump carried handily in 2016. Jones, who is facing re-election in November, said he concluded that “the evidence clearly proves that the president used the weight of his office … to coerce a foreign government to interfere in our election for his personal political benefit.” Manchin, who doesn’t face voters again until 2024, said while he wants Trump to succeed as president, “I deeply love our country and must do what I think is best for the nation.” The other two Southern Democrats in the Senate — Tim Kaine and Mark Warner of Virginia — also voted to convict Trump, while all 24 Republicans representing Southern states voted no. (Posted February 5)

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ATLANTA PASTOR RAPHAEL WARNOCK GETS INTO GEORGIA U.S. SENATE SPECIAL ELECTION RACE

Raphael Warnock

Warnock, who holds the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church pulpit where both Martin Luther King Jr. and his father preached, has entered the special election race for a U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Kelly Loeffler, giving Democrats a high-profile candidate for a seat they have high hopes of flipping. Warnock’s campaign launch came with a full-throated endorsement from Stacey Abrams, who energized Democrats nationally in a unsuccessful race for governor in 2018. Warnock is the fifth Democrat to enter the race, in which candidates from all parties will run against each other without party primaries. (Posted January 30)

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GEORGIA GOP U.S. REP. DOUG COLLINS WILL RUN AGAINST NEW U.S. SENATOR KELLY LOEFFLER

Collins announces on Fox

Colllins, one of President Donald Trump’s staunchest defenders in Congress, says he will run in a November special election against Loeffler, the state’s newly minted senator, defying the man who appointed her, Governor Brian Kemp, and triggering an intra-party squabble with potential implications for Senate control. In December, Kemp tapped Loeffler, a wealthy Atlanta business executive, to replace Johnny Isakson, despite furious lobbying by conservatives for Collins, who has led the charge against Trump’s impeachment as ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. Collins said his run will allow Georgians “to choose [a senator] for themselves.” (Posted January 29)

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U.S. REPS. VAL DEMINGS OF FLORIDA, SYLVIA GARCIA OF TEXAS NAMED IMPEACHMENT MANAGERS

Pelosi with managers; Garcia far left, Demings far right. (From Washington Post Live)

Demings who represents metro Orlando in the House, is the only non-lawyer among the seven House managers, although she has a background in law enforcement as a former police chief. Garcia, a former municipal judge in Houston, is one of just two freshmen House members selected as a manager. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said she looked for managers with “comfort level in the courtroom” to lead the House case in Donald Trump’s Senate trial. (Posted January 15)

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FORMER SAN ANTONIO MAYOR JULIÁN CASTRO ENDS RUN IN DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL RACE

Julián Castro

Castro, the last Southerner and the only Latino in the 2020 presidential race, told his supporters that “given the circumstances of this campaign season, I’ve determined that it simply isn’t our time.” He exited the race by calling on Democrats to change their nominating process, which he said disadvantages candidates of color by starting in mostly white Iowa and New Hampshire. Castro was polling in low single digits in both of those states, as well as nationally and in more diverse early voting states such as Nevada and South Carolina. (Posted January 3)

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GEORGIA U.S. REP. JOHN LEWIS VOWS TO FIGHT AFTER BEING DIAGNOSED WITH PANCREATIC CANCER

John Lewis

Lewis, the dean of Georgia’s congressional delegation and an icon of the civil rights movement, has Stage 4, or metastatic, pancreatic cancer, a disease which has just a 3 percent survival rate. Lewis said that while he was “clear-eyed about the prognosis,” he has “decided to do what I know to do and do what I have always done: I am going to fight it.” Lewis, a Democrat, has represented the Atlanta-based 5th District since 1987. (Posted December 30)

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ALL 10 SOUTHERN DEMOCRATS IN U.S. HOUSE WHO FLIPPED SEATS IN 2018 VOTE FOR IMPEACHMENT

Vote tally on second article of impeachment (From C-SPAN via YouTube)

The list of Southern Democrats voting to impeach President Donald Trump includes five members representing districts Trump won in 2016 — Abigail Spanberger and Elaine Luria of Virginia, Lucy McBath of Georgia, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma, and Joe Cunningham of South Carolina. Five other members who flipped districts that Hillary Clinton won also voted yes — Colin Allred and Lizzie Fletcher of Texas, Jennifer Wexton of Virginia, and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Donna Shalala of Florida. The impeachment vote is likely to be a pivotal issue next year as these Democrats try to hang on to their seats against Republican challengers, in an election with Trump at the top of the ballot. (Posted December 18)

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“MATT BEVIN CAN ROT IN HELL”: OUTRAGE OVER  DEPARTING KENTUCKY GOVERNOR’S PARDONS

Louisville Courier-Journal

Bevin is being pilloried by Republicans and Democrats alike after issuing 428 pardons and commutations on his way out the door after his November election loss, including a pardon for a man serving 20 years for his role in a fatal home invasion robbery whose brother hosted a Bevin fundraiser. The GOP Senate president now wants a federal investigation, and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called the pardons “completely inappropriate.” But Bevin said suggestions that the pardon and fundraiser might be linked are “highly offensive and entirely false.” (Posted December 14)

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DEMOCRAT ANDY BESHEAR CALLS FOR UNITY AS HE TAKES OFFICE AS KENTUCKY GOVERNOR

In his inaugural address, Beshear called on Kentuckians to “come together for the common good” after the tumultuous tenure of his predecessor, Republican Matt Bevin, and vowed to “be a governor just as much for those who voted against me as those who voted for me because I view this election as an opportunity — an opportunity to heal wounds, an opportunity to work together instead of angling for political gain.” Beshear defeated Bevin by 5,100 votes in November to claim the governor’s post previously held by his father. (Posted December 10)

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INSIGHT: WHAT DO THE 2019 ELECTION RESULTS IN 4 SOUTHERN STATES TELL US ABOUT 2020 RACES?

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

Rich Shumate

Now that the dust has cleared from elections in four Southern states earlier this month, what are the lessons, if any, for 2020 elections in which both the presidency and control of Congress will be on the line? Some pundits in the chattering class and Democratic politicians have looked at victories by Democrats in governor’s races in deep red Kentucky and Louisiana and gleefully found evil portends for their GOP rivals next year. While that would be overreach, the wins by Andy Beshear and John Bel Edwards showed that the Republican strategy of calling Democrats socialists and ginning up the faithful with Trump rallies has its limits, even in states that the president carried by more than 20 points. And more concerning for the GOP are the margins Democrats ran up in cities and suburbs. (Posted  November 22)

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TRUMP REBUFFED AS LOUISIANA DEMOCRATIC GOVERNOR JOHN BEL EDWARDS WINS RE-ELECTION

Edwards addresses supporters in New Orleans

Edwards narrowly won re-election to a second term, defeating Republican Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone by a margin of 51 percent for 49 percent.  The win by Edwards gives Democrats victories in two out of three Southern governor’s races this year, despite fervent interventions in all three races by President Donald Trump in states he carried handily in 2016. In his victory speech, Edwards responded to Trump with a classic Southern putdown: “And as for the president — God bless his heart.” In the other statewide office on the ballot, Republican incumbent Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin easily defeated Democrat Gwen Collins-Greenup. (Posted November 16)

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FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY GENERAL JEFF SESSIONS WANTS HIS SENATE SEAT BACK IN ALABAMA

Sessions announces on Fox News

Sessions, who served 20 years in the Senate before leaving to join President Donald Trump’s Cabinet, has filed to run for the seat held by Democratic U.S. Senator Doug Jones. To win, he’ll have to overcome eight Republicans already in the race — including U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne from Mobile, former Auburn University football coach Tommy Tuberville Secretary of State John Merrill, and former state Supreme Court justice Roy Moore — as well as resistance from Trump, who called Sessions “weak” and disappointing before forcing him out as attorney general a year ago. (Posted November 8)

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VIRGINIA VOTE: DEMOCRATS FLIP BOTH HOUSES OF LEGISLATURE FROM RED TO BLUE

Democrats won majorities in the Virginia Senate and House of Delegates for the first time in 24 years, completing a takeover of state government that will give them total control of the reapportionment process after the 2020 census. Coupled with the Democratic sweep of all three statewide offices in 2017 and flipping three U.S. House seats in 2018, Tuesday’s result is the latest evidence that political control Old Dominion has slipped away from the GOP and into Democratic hands. (Posted November 5)

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MISSISSIPPI LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR TATE REEVES WINS GOVERNOR’S RACE IN GOP SWEEP

Reeves claims win

Reeves capped a 16-year ascent through the ranks of state politics by capturing the governorship, extending the GOP’s lock on the office for another four years. Buoyed by a pre-election visit to Tupelo by President Donald Trump, Reeves defeated Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood 52 percent to 47 percent. Republicans also swept six other statewide races to continue their dominance in the Magnolia State (Posted November 5)

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BETO O’ROURKE EXITS DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL RACE AS POLLING, FUNDRAISING COLLAPSE

O’Rourke withdraws  (NBC/YouTube)

Seven months after beginning his quest for the presidency with high hopes and lavish media attention born of political star power, O’Rourke, the former U.S. House member from Texas, has brought his campaign to an abrupt and quiet end. O’Rourke made his exit by telling a crowd of supporters in Des Moines, Iowa, that “we do not have the means to pursue this campaign successfully.” His short-lived campaign will perhaps be best remembered for a moment in a September debate where, in a call for mandatory buybacks of assault weapons, he said, “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.” (Posted November 2)

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FIVE SOUTHERN U.S HOUSE DEMOCRATS IN PRO-TRUMP DISTRICTS VOTE FOR IMPEACHMENT INQUIRY

The Southern Democrats from districts President Donald Trump carried in 2016 who voted for the measure to move forward with an impeachment inquiry were Abigail Spanberger and Elaine Luria of Virginia, Lucy McBath of Georgia, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma, and Joe Cunningham of South Carolina. Five other Democrats who also flipped GOP-held seats in 2018 — Colin Alled and Lizzie Fletcher of Texas, Jennifer Wexton of Virginia, and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Donna Shalala of Florida — also voted for the measure. (Posted October 31)

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STEVEN REED MAKES HISTORY AS FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN ELECTED MONTGOMERY MAYOR

Steven Reed

Reed, 45, currently a county probate judge, won a runoff to become the first black mayor of Montgomery, the first capital of the Confederacy and the cradle of the civil rights movement during the 1950s and 1960s. Reed carried 67 percent of the vote in an October 8 runoff against David Woods, a local television station owner, who carried 33 percent. The two men had taken the top two places in the first round of voting in August. (Posted October 9)

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“TEXODUS” CONTINUES TO RESHAPE LONE STAR STATE’S REPUBLICAN U.S. HOUSE DELEGATION

Mac Thornberry

The latest Texas GOP congressman to announce he won’t seek re-election in 2020 is U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, who joins five home-state colleagues — with, together, more than 80 years of seniority — who had earlier announced their retirements. While Thornberry’s district is unlikely to fall into Democratic hands, his departure is the latest shake-up in a GOP delegation that will have lost 14 members in just four years. (Posted September 30)

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VIRGINIA LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR JUSTIN FAIRFAX SUES CBS OVER SEXUAL ASSAULT CLAIMS

Fairfax

After seven months of publicly fighting politically damaging allegations of sexual assault, Fairfax has struck back with a $400 million defamation suit against CBS, accusing the network of abandoning “sound, standard journalistic practices” when it aired interviews with Fairfax’s two accusers in April. A complaint filed in federal court in Alexandria also accuses Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney — a fellow African-American Democrat and political rival of Fairfax — of being involved in the effort to make the women’s charges public. (Posted September 12)

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CHASING CORNYN: GAGGLE OF DEMOCRATS TAKING AIM AT TEXAS’S SENIOR U.S. SENATOR

Cornyn

As he faces re-election in 2020, Republican U.S. Senator John Cornyn can boast of nearly two decades of experience, has more than $9 million tucked away and represents a state that hasn’t elected a Democratic senator since the days of Ronald Reagan. And yet, Democrats are falling all over themselves to get into what appears to be, at least on paper, an enterprise with dubious chance of success. Nine Democrats are already running, and the question mark hanging over their primary is whether former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke will abandon his campaign for president and return to the Lone Star Star state to try once again for the job that eluded him in 2018. (Posted August 25)

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