Chicken Fried Politics

LATEST COVERAGE

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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SOUTH CAROLINA RUNOFF: GOVERNOR HENRY MCMASTER WINS GOP NOD AFTER TRUMP PUSH

Henry McMaster

Buoyed by an election eve visit from President Donald Trump, Governor Henry McMaster defeated Greenville businessman John Warren in a Republican runoff for governor, clearing a major hurdle in his quest to keep the job he inherited last year when Nikki Haley left to become UN ambassador. Upstate in the GOP runoff in the 4th U.S. House District, State Senator William Timmons defeated former State Senator Lee Bright for the seat being vacated by U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy. (Posted June 27)

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OKLAHOMA PRIMARY: CORNETT, STITT ADVANCE TO AUGUST GOP RUNOFF FOR GOVERNOR

Stitt

Cornett

Former Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett and Tulsa businessman Kevin Stitt topped a field of 10 candidates in the Republican primary for governor and will face each other in an August 28 runoff. Cornett took 29 percent in the June 26 vote to 24 percent for Stitt, who edged out Lieutenant Governor Todd Lamb by less than 3,500 votes. The runoff winner will face former Attorney General Drew Edmonson, who easily won the Democratic primary. In the state’s open 1st U.S. House District, the GOP runoff will feature former Tulsa County District Attorney Tim Harris against businessman Kevin Hern. (Posted June 27)

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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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SOUTH CAROLINA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE WHO BEAT MARK SANFORD BADLY HURT IN WRECK

Arrington

Just 10 days after toppling U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford in South Carolina’s 1st U.S. House District primary, State Rep. Katie Arrington was seriously injured when a car in which she was riding was struck by a wrong way driver on U.S. 17 south of Charleston. The driver of the other car was killed. Arrington suffered a broken back and ribs and underwent surgery at a Charleston hospital, where she is expected to stay for two weeks. (Posted June 23)

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DESPITE PAST CRITICISM, PRESIDENT TRUMP ENDORSES ALABAMA U.S. REP. MARTHA ROBY IN RUNOFF

Roby

In a Twitter endorsement, Trump called Roby “a consistent and reliable vote for our Make America Great Again Agenda.” The congresswoman, who has faced blowback over her decision to unendorse Trump in 2016 after the infamous Access Hollywood video, was forced into a July 17 runoff with Bobby Bright, who held the seat as a Democrat before losing to Roby in 2010. In his tweet, Trump dismissed Bright as “a recent Nancy Pelosi voting Democrat.” (Posted June 22)

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NEIGHBOR WHO ASSAULTED KENTUCKY U.S. SENATOR RAND PAUL GETS 30-DAY JAIL SENTENCE

Rene Boucher

Rene Boucher, 60, was sentenced on a felony charge of assaulting a member of Congress resulting in injury for tackling Paul last November outside his Bowling Green home, leaving the senator with several broken ribs. Boucher was also fined $10,000 and will serve a year of probation. The Bowling Green Daily News reported that Boucher apologized in court, saying, “I’m embarrassed and I hope (Paul) and his family will one day be able to accept my apology.” Boucher said he was angry at Paul for stacking yard waste near their shared property line. (Posted June 18)

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SOUTH CAROLINA PRIMARY: U.S. REP. MARK SANFORD GOES DOWN; MCMASTER, WARREN IN RUNOFF

Mark Sanford

Sanford became the second incumbent to go down in a primary this year, losing the GOP nomination for his Lowcountry seat after President Donald Trump tweeted a last-minute endorsement of his opponent. In another key race, Governor Henry McMaster secured a spot in the June 26 runoff, where he will face Greenville businessman John Warren. In the 5th U.S. House District, Democrat Archie Parnell advanced to the general election, despite pleas from party leaders to quit after revelations about past spouse abuse. (Posted June 12)

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VIRGINIA PRIMARY: COMSTOCK, WEXTON BATTLE SET IN HOUSE RACE; STEWART WINS GOP SENATE NOD

Comstock

Wexton

Virginia Democrats have picked nominees for four targeted Republican-held U.S. House seats, including a high-stakes race in the Washington, D.C. suburbs that will pit GOP U.S. Rep. Barbara Comstock against Democratic State Senator Jennifer Wexton. Republicans selected as their U.S. Senate nominee former Trump state campaign chair Corey Stewart, putting at the top of their ticket a candidate who has championed preservation of Confederate symbols. (Posted June 12)

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ALABAMA PRIMARY: GOVERNOR KAY IVEY WINS WITHOUT RUNOFF; U.S. REP. MARTHA ROBY DOESN’T

Kay Ivey

Ivey cruised to victory in the GOP primary, defeating three opponents without a runoff and clearing a major hurdle in her quest to win in her own right a job she inherited when her predecessor resigned in 2017. This fall, she will face the Democratic winner, Tuscaloosa Mayor Walt Maddox. Roby was forced into a July 17 runoff in the 2nd District against amid a backlash over her criticism of Donald Trump. She will face former U.S. Rep. Bobby Bright. (Posted June 6)

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MISSISSIPPI PRIMARY: RUNOFFS SET IN 3RD U.S. HOUSE DISTRICT, DEMOCRATIC U.S. SENATE RACE

A field of six Republicans vying for the open 3rd District U.S. House seat has been narrowed to two contenders, with Michael Guest and Whit Hughes winning the right to face each other in a June 26 runoff. Guest, a prosecutor in the Jackson suburbs, took 45 percent in the first round of voting to 22 percent for Hughes, an aide to former Governor Haley Barbour. In the race for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Roger Wicker, Democrats will decide a runoff between Howard Sherman, a Meridian businessman married to actress Sela Ward, and State House Minority Leader David Baria from Bay St. Louis. (Posted June 6)

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VIRGINIA U.S. REP. TOM GARRETT DROPS OUT OF RE-ELECTION BID AFTER DISCLOSING ALCOHOLISM

Tom Garrett

Garrett, a freshman Republican, announced he will not seek re-election this fall because he is an alcoholic, while also insisting that allegations that he and his wife misused his congressional staff to perform personal errands are “a series of half truths and whole lies” that were “more driven by Republicans than Democrats.” His departure means Virginia Republicans will now have to pick a replacement candidate in the 5th District to face Democrat Leslie Cockburn in a race Virginia Democrats have targeted. (Posted May 29)

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STATE PRIMARY WRAP: STACEY ABRAMS WINS DEMOCRATIC NOD FOR GEORGIA GOVERNOR

Abrams

Abrams made history in Georgia’s May 22 Democratic primary for governor, crushing her opponent to become the first African American woman ever nominated by a major political party in a U.S. state. Georgia Republicans will have a July runoff between Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle and Secretary of State Brian Kemp. In Arkansas, Republican Governor Asa Hutchinson won his primary and will face Democratic winner Jared Henderson. Texas Democrats picked former Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez to face Republican Governor Greg Abbott. (Posted May 23)

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U.S. HOUSE PRIMARY WRAP: FIGHTER PILOT AMY MCGRATH TOPS PARTY-PICKED RIVAL IN KENTUCKY

McGrath

In a year in which women candidates have been making noise nationally, McGrath, a former Marine fighter pilot whose call sign was “Krusty,” made her own statement in Kentucky’s Bluegrass country by winning the Democratic nomination for the 6th District seat over Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, who had been recruited to run by Washington party leaders. Meanwhile, in primaries in Georgia, Arkansas and Texas, Democrats narrowed the fields in races for seven GOP-held seats that are being targeted in November. (Posted May 23)

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COAL BARON DON BLANKENSHIP TRIES 3RD-PARTY RUN FOR WEST VIRGINIA U.S. SENATE SEAT

Blankenship

Two weeks after coming in a distant third in a GOP primary, Blankenship, a former coal baron who went to prison for his role in a deadly 2010 mine disaster, has accepted the Constitution Party’s nomination for the seat, a move that could harm Republican prospects for ousting incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator Joe Manchin. However, Blankenship will need to get past the state’s “sour grapes” law that prevents losing primary candidates from running under the banner of a third party. (Posted May 21)

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NORTH CAROLINA U.S. REP. ROBERT PITTENGER OUSTED; RACES SET IN 3 TARGET DISTRICTS

Harris

Pittenger became the first incumbent to go down to defeat in the 2018 election cycle after losing the May 8 primary in the state’s 9th District to Mark Harris, a prominent Baptist pastor from Charlotte. Harris will now face Democrat Dan McCready, who has already raised $1.9 million to run for a seat Democrats have high hopes of flipping. Two other GOP incumbents, U.S. Rep. George Holding in the 2nd District and U.S. Rep. Ted Budd in the 13th District, are also on the Democrats’ target list. (Posted May 9)

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LIBERAL FIREBRAND ALAN GRAYSON IS SEEKING HIS OLD FLORIDA U.S. HOUSE SEAT

Grayson

Grayson’s effort to reclaim the 9th District post he gave up to make an ill-fated U.S. Senate run in 2016 sets up a Democratic primary with U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, who claimed Grayson’s seat two years ago after defeating Grayson’s wife. In a sign of how much Florida’s other Democratic congressman do not want to see the return of the outspoken Grayson, they have collectively endorsed Soto. The metro Orlando district has a growing Puerto Rican population, a plus for Soto, Florida’s first congressman of Puerto Rican descent. (Posted May 1)

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FLORIDA REPUBLICAN U.S. REP. DENNIS ROSS ANNOUNCES HE WON’T SEEK RE-ELECTION

Ross

Ross’s decision not seek a fifth term in November opens up a congressional seat in Tampa’s eastern suburbs. His announcement came shortly after House Speaker Paul Ryan announced he too was retiring from Congress, amid projections of a Democratic wave that could flip control of the House this year. Ross said he would resume his law practice and pursue “opportunities to increase civic education for our youth.” Ross had been considered a prohibitive favorite to retain the 15th District seat, where he was being challenged by six little-known Democrats. (Posted April 11)

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GOP FLORIDA GOVERNOR RICK SCOTT WILL CHALLENGE DEMOCRATIC U.S. SENATOR BILL NELSON

Scott

Criticizing “career politicians” who have left Washington “dysfunctional,” Scott made official what was widely expected — he will take on Nelson in what is likely to be a hugely expensive battle for Florida’s U.S. Senate seat, with control of the chamber in the balance. At his April 9 announcement, Scott touted his record of job creation and tax cuts during his two terms as governor and called on Floridians to “stop sending talkers to Washington. Let’s send doers.” Nelson is seeking his fourth term. (Posted April 9)

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U.S. SUPREME COURT STAYS RULING INVALIDATING NORTH CAROLINA’S U.S. HOUSE MAP

The high court has indefinitely put on hold a ruling by a panel of three federal judges that invalidated the Tar Heel State’s congressional map for unconstitutionally diluting the voting strength of Democrats. The January 18 decision by the high court means state legislators will not have to redraw the map for the 2018 midterm election, a prospect that threatened to throw the election process into chaos. Two members of the court’s liberal bloc, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor, opposed the stay requested by Republican lawmakers. (Posted January 19)

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GOP KEEPS CONTROL OF VIRGINIA HOUSE OF DELEGATES AFTER DRAWING DECIDES WINNER

Yancey

Republicans have kept control of the Virginia House of Delegates after a random drawing to settle a race in that remained tied after a disputed recount. Republican Delegate David Yancey will get to keep his seat after his name was drawn from a bowl by the chairman of the State Board of Elections. But Yancey’s Democratic challenger, Shelly Simonds, refused to concede and said “all options are on the table,” including possible legal action to contest the outcome. With Yancey’s win, Republicans will hold 51 seats in the House of Delegates, to 49 for Democrats. (Posted January 4)

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ALABAMA DEMOCRAT DOUG JONES SWORN IN AS U.S. SENATOR, NARROWING GOP MARGIN

U.S. Senator Doug Jones is sworn in. (Courtesy C-SPAN)

Jones was officially sworn in as a U.S. senator on January 3, capping the remarkable and improbable political feat of capturing a Senate seat in one of the nation’s most Republican states. Flanked by former Vice President Joe Biden, Jones took the oath of office from Vice President Mike Pence, alongside Democrat Tina Smith, who assumed the Senate seat from Minnesota vacated by Al Franken. Jones now holds the seat once held by his mentor and former boss, the late U.S. Senator Howell Heflin, who was the last Democrat to represent the Yellowhammer State when he retired in 1997. With Jones in the Senate, Republicans will hold a scant 51-49 advantage. (Posted January 3)

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ANALYSIS: SOUTH IS GOP’S ACE IN THE HOLE TO KEEP CONTROL OF U.S. HOUSE IN 2018

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics editor

With President Trump’s approval ratings at historically low levels, Democrats have high hopes of taking back the U.S. House in 2018. But those hopes are tempered by a giant geographic obstacle standing in their way — namely, the South. To reclaim the House, Democrats need to flip 24 seats, shifting about 10 percent of the seats that Republicans now hold. But a 10 percent shift in the South would require winning 11 seats, and, if Democrats fall short of that total, they will need to shift an even higher percentage of seats throughout the rest of the country — as much as 19 percent if they come up empty in the South. And as right now, they have a realistic shot at flipping just seven Southern seats, five of which have been in Republican hands for decades and only one of which is currently open. (Posted July 12)

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