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WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA REPUBLICANS OUST U.S. REP. MADISON CAWTHORN IN PRIMARY

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Madison Cawthorn

Republican voters in Western North Carolina brought the political career of scandal-plagued Cawthorn crashing down in Tuesday’s primary, while voters statewide set up a fall U.S. Senate contest between Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Budd and Democrat Cheri Beasley. Budd, endorsed by Donald Trump, took 59% to win the GOP primary, ahead of former governor Pat McCrory at 24%. He’ll now face Beasley, the former chief justice of the state Supreme Court who easily won her party’s nomination. Cawthorn — once seen as a rising star in the MAGA wing of the GOP before becoming enmeshed in a string of controversies — was defeated by State Senator Chuck Edwards of Hendersonville, who had the backing of state GOP leaders. (Posted May 17)

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KENTUCKY PRIMARY: FALL U.S. SENATE RACE SET BETWEEN RAND PAUL AND CHARLES BOOKER

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Paul and Booker

The fall contest for U.S. Senate in Kentucky will be a showdown between Republican U.S. Senator Rand Paul and Democratic challenger Charles Booker, who both easily won their primaries Tuesday. In the 3rd U.S. House District in metro Louisville, where Democratic U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth is retiring, State Senator Morgan McGarvey defeated State Rep. Attica Scott for the Democratic nomination in the state’s only Democratic-leaning district. He will face either Republican Rhonda Palazzo, a Louisville real estate agent and MAGA activist, or Stuart Ray, a Louisville steel company executive, who were neck-and-neck in the GOP primary. (Posted May 17)

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WEST VIRGINIA U.S. REP. ALEX MOONEY RIDES DONALD TRUMP ENDORSEMENT TO PRIMARY WIN

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Alex Mooney

Mooney won the hotly contested incumbent-vs-incumbent Republican primary in West Virginia’s 2nd U.S. House District, riding Trump’s coveted endorsement to an easy win over U.S. Rep. David McKinley in the state’s May 10 primary. Mooney took 54% of the vote to 36% for McKinley, who was one of just 35 Republicans to support an independent investigation into the January 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol and one of just 12 GOP members voting for Joe Biden’s bipartisan infrastructure bill. McKinley and Mooney were forced to run against each other after West Virginia lost one of its three U.S. House seats after 2020 reapportionment. (Posted May 11)

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PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE: FLORIDA LEGISLATORS SET TO APPROVE DESANTIS U.S. HOUSE MAP

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DeSantis’s U.S. House map

Florida lawmakers will be back in Tallahassee this week to approve a new U.S. House map, with the Republicans in charge ready (or maybe just resigned?) to letting Governor Ron DeSantis take the lead – a decision that’s almost certain to result in both state and federal court fights over how far Republicans can go in gerrymandering the map to their advantage. DeSantis has proposed a new map that will add four GOP-leaning seats across the state, giving the party a shot at winning 20 of 28 seats – in a state where Republicans usually only win by single-digit margins in statewide races. Potentially more problematically from a legal perspective, DeSantis wants to nuke the current 5th District in North Florida, a Democratic-leaning, majority-minority district that stretches from Jacksonville to Tallahassee. (Posted April 17)

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BROMANCE BYE: DONALD TRUMP PULLS MO BROOKS ENDORSEMENT IN ALABAMA U.S. SENATE RACE

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Mo Brooks

Trump rescinded his endorsement of Brooks, accusing him of becoming “woke” for urging Republicans to put the results of the 2020 election behind them and focus on the future. The decision is a blow to Brooks’s struggling campaign – but it could also save Trump from what increasingly looked to be an embarrassing defeat by his anointed candidate in the state’s May 24 primary. It is also likely to set up a spirited chase to get Trump’s seal of approval between Brooks’s Republican rivals, Katie Britt and Mike Durant. After the announcement, Brooks issued a statement calling Trump’s decision “disappointing” but insisting that he could not do what Trump wanted — try to overturn Joe Biden’s election win after Congress finalized it on January 6, 2021. (Posted March 23)

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TEXAS REPUBLICAN U.S. REP. VAN TAYLOR DROPS OUT AFTER ADMITTING AFFAIR WITH ‘ISIS BRIDE’

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Van Taylor

Just one day after being forced into a primary runoff to keep his seat, Taylor ended his re-election campaign after admitting to an extramarital affair with the widow of an Islamic jihadist who fought for the terrorist group ISIS and was dubbed as the “ISIS Bride” by British tabloids. The revelation of the affair appears to have been engineered by one of Taylor’s GOP primary opponents, who leaked an interview with the woman to a right-wing website. With Taylor’s departure, former Colin County Judge Keith Self, who finished second in Tuesday’s primary in District 3, will become the Republican nominee and the favorite to win the seat in November in the heavily Republican district in the northern Dallas suburbs. (Posted March 3)

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TEXAS PRIMARY: ATTORNEY GENERAL KEN PAXTON FACES RUNOFF AGAINST GEORGE P. BUSH

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Ken Paxton and George P. Bush

Paxton, facing criminal charges and an FBI investigation triggered by his own former aides, will now also have to survive a Republican runoff to keep his job after failing to capture a majority in Tuesday’s primary in his bid for a third term. His opponent in the May runoff will be Bush, setting up a high-voltage contest between one of Donald Trump’s most vocal supporters and a scion of a Texas political family known for holding the former president in minimum high regard. Tuesday’s primary also set up, as expected, a high-profile November match-up between Republican Governor Greg Abbott and Democrat Beto O’Rourke, both of whom easily won their party’s primaries. (Posted March 2)

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TEXAS U.S. HOUSE PRIMARIES: INCUMBENTS HENRY CUELLAR, VAN TAYLOR WILL FACE RUNOFFS

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U.S. Reps. Henry Cuellar and Van Taylor

Cuellar, a veteran Democrat from South Texas, has an 800-vote lead over Laredo immigration attorney Jessica Cisneros, who running against him from the left with the backing of high-profile luminaries on the Democratic left. They will face each other again May 24, after neither cleared 50%. Taylor — a Republican from the Dallas suburbs under fire from Donald Trump supporters for voting to certify Joe Biden’s win and supporting a congressional investigation into the January 6th riot a– came in 48.7% in a race against four challengers, forcing him into a runoff with former Collin County Judge Keith Self. He later withdrew from the race after admitting to an extramarital affair. (Posted March 2)

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DECISION IN ARKANSAS REDISTRICTING CASE COULD LIMIT USE OF VOTING RIGHTS ACT

ArkansasCan private groups and individuals who believe their electoral prospects are harmed by new political maps bring suit in federal court under the Voting Rights Act? For more than 50 years, the answer to that question has been yes. But a federal judge in Arkansas has come down on the other side, saying that only the U.S. attorney general, not private parties, can bring lawsuits under the act. The decision drew strong rebukes from voting rights advocates, who say that line of reasoning would drastically undercut the ability of minority voters to seek redress in federal court. (Posted February 21)

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U.S. SUPREME COURT RESTORES ALABAMA U.S. HOUSE MAP STRUCK DOWN BY LOWER COURT

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In a narrow 5-to-4 decision issued February 8, the high court overruled a panel of Alabama federal judges who found that the map violated the Voting Rights Act and ordered state legislators to redraw the state’s U.S. House map to create a second majority-black district. The ruling is a victory for Republican members of Alabama’s U.S. House delegation, who can now proceed with their re-election plans without the daunting prospect of running in unfamiliar territory. The Supreme Court did not rule on the underlying legal dispute over whether Alabama’s map violated the Voting Rights Act, but the majority said forcing legislators to redraw the map before May’s primary, with candidate qualifying underway, would be too disruptive to the election process. (Posted February 8)

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NORTH CAROLINA SUPREME COURT STRIKES DOWN NEW REPUBLICAN-DRAWN POLITICAL MAPS

north carolinaIn a February 4 decision, the high court said maps drawn for U.S. House seats and state legislative districts were gerrymandered for political reasons in violation of the state constitution, a victory for Democrats in one of the country’s most evenly divided swing states. The partisan elected court, which has a 4-to-3 Democratic majority, gave legislators just two weeks, until February 18, to redraw the maps, or a lower court will take over the process. It did not delay the scheduled May 17 primary but said that election must use the new maps. The court also ordered legislators to avoid chopping up counties into multiple districts whenever possible – a direct shot at the Republican map, which divided Mecklenberg and Guilford counties into three districts each to dilute the Democratic vote in Charlotte and Greensboro. (Posted February 5)

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NORTH CAROLINA U.S. REP. MADISON CAWTHORN SUES TO BLOCK DISQUALIFICATION CHALLENGE

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Madison Cawthorn

Cawthorn, a fiercely pro-Trump partisan who spoke at a rally on the Ellipse before the January 6th Capitol riot, has gone to federal court to block the North Carolina State Elections Board from hearing a complaint filed by voters in his district, asking that he be barred from the 2022 ballot under a provision in the 14th Amendment disqualifying people who have “engaged in insurrection” from serving in Congress. If successful, his preemptive strike would prevent the board’s Democratic majority from possibly barring him from re-election. The case has been assigned to a judge appointed by Donald Trump. (Posted February 1)

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REPUBLICANS TAKE OVER: VIRGINIA GOVERNOR GLENN YOUNGKIN INAUGURATED IN RICHMOND


(From WTVR via YouTube/Posted January 15)

SOUND AND FURY: BIDEN, HARRIS DRAW LINE IN THE SAND ON VOTING RIGHTS IN ATLANTA

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

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Joe Biden

The setting was both symbolic and historic. To promote their push for federal voting rights legislation in the U.S. Senate, President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris chose Atlanta, cradle of the civil rights movement, and spoke on the campus shared by three historically black colleges with a rich legacy of activism. Georgia is also the state where Republicans undertook a wholesale revision of state election laws after Biden carried the state in 2020 and Democrats flipped two U.S. Senate seats, based on claims of voting fraud for which no evidence has yet to emerge.

However, whether Biden and Harris’s dramatic exhortations will affect the outcome of the Senate vote in the coming days remains very much up in the air, and the outcome will be of particular interest in three Southern states – Georgia, Florida and Texas – where Republicans control the political machinery and are striving to thwart any Democratic advance by reworking the rules to their advantage. (Posted January 11)

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HOT OR NOT, IN OR OUT: OUR FORECAST OF 2022’S MOST INTERESTING SOUTHERN POLITICAL RACES

Decision 20222022 has dawned, and with it a mid-term election year in which most Southern states will decide who gets to be their governor and congressional races across the region will play a key role in deciding which party controls Congress. ChickenFriedPolitics takes a look at some of the hottest races, and likely biggest political stories, of the upcoming year in the South, including Donald Trump’s thirst for revenge, U.S. Senate races in which black women are poised to make history, and the never ending quests of Beto O’Rourke and Charlie Crist to get indifferent voters to show them some electoral love. (Posted January 2)

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WEST VIRGINIA U.S. SENATOR JOE MANCHIN DEALS DEATH BLOW TO BIDEN’S BUILD BACK BETTER BILL

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Joe Manchin

For more than five months, the political class, and the chattering class, in Washington have been obsessed with one question: Will Manchin support fellow Democrat Joe Biden’s ambitious $2 trillion Build Back Better plan, or won’t he? In one of the year’s most dramatic political interviews, Manchin gave his final answer, saying on Fox News Sunday that “I cannot vote to continue with this piece of legislation. I just can’t.” The announcement drew a sharp rebuke from the White House and outrage from Democrats who were promised Senate passage of the bill in return for supporting a bipartisan infrastructure bill that Manchin wanted. (Posted December 19)

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GEORGIA GOP CIVIL WAR: DAVID PERDUE WILL TRY TO UNSEAT GOVERNOR BRIAN KEMP

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David Perdue

Perdue’s announcement that he is challenging his former political ally Kemp in next May’s Republican primary has set off what’s likely to be a contentious and divisive battle after months of encouragement from Donald Trump. In his campaign launch, Perdue said Kemp can’t beat likely Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams and blamed him, rather than Trump, for the loss of two U.S. Senate runoffs in January. He also said Abrams “will smile, lie and cheat to try and transform Georgia into her radical vision.”  Perdue, 71, was elected to the Senate in 2014. He lost his seat in January when he was defeated by Democratic U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff in a runoff. (Posted December 6)

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DEMOCRAT STACEY ABRAMS LAUNCHES ANOTHER RUN AT GEORGIA’S GOVERNORSHIP

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Stacey Abrams,

Abrams’s announcement sets up a possible rematch with Republican Governor Brian Kemp — if he can get through his party’s primary in the face of fierce opposition from Donald Trump. Abrams, 47, a former state legislator who founded a voting rights group after her 2018 loss to Kemp, announced her candidacy in a video posted on Twitter, reviving the “one Georgia” theme that was central to her 2018 campaign. Abrams lost to Kemp by 55,000 votes, coming closer to winning the governorship than any Democrat had in two decades. She acknowledged his win but refused to formally concede, alleging that voting suppression tactics had tainted the outcome. (Posted December 1)

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ATLANTA CITY COUNCIL MEMBER ANDRE DICKENS WINS BY A LANDSLIDE IN MAYOR’S RUNOFF

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Andre Dickens

Dickens, 47, a non-profit executive who has served two terms in a citywide council seat, erased a nearly 18-point deficit in the first round of voting to defeat City Council President Felicia Moore by a margin of 62% to 38% in the November 30 runoff. He will take the helm of the city amid increasing concerns about a rise in violent crime and a campaign by residents of the wealthy Buckhead enclave to secede and form their own city. Speaking to supporters after his win, Dickens said, “There is no limit to Atlanta, and that’s what we’ve got to look forward to.” (Posted November 30)

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WEST VIRGINIA’S JIM JUSTICE IS SOUTH’S MOST POPULAR GOVERNOR; GEORGIA’S BRIAN KEMP LEAST

gov approval ratings1Justice’s approval rating in new gubernatorial approval polls from Morning Consult stood at 65%, with Alabama’s Kay Ivey close behind at 62%. But Kemp’s approval rating among registered voters was just 42%, as he heads into what is expected to be a tough re-election battle next year against furious opposition from Donald Trump. The only other Southern governor with an approval rating below 50% was Mississippi’s Tate Reeves at 49%. Democratic Southern governors with aggressive COVID-19 strategies also showed slightly higher approval than GOP counterparts who are leading the charge against mandates, including Kentucky’s Andy Beshear at 54%. Florida Republican Ron DeSantis, who has made opposition to mandates a central feature of his re-election campaign, stood at 52%, while Texas’s Greg Abbott, who has taken a similar line of resistance, was at 50%. (Posted November 24)

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THIRD TIME A CHARM? DEMOCRAT BETO O’ROURKE ENTERS TEXAS GOVERNOR’S RACE

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Beto O’Rourke

O’Rourke’s announcement gives Democrats a high-profile candidate in their quest to unseat Republican Governor Greg Abbott.  In a video announcing his candidacy posted November 15, O’Rourke charged that “those in a position of public trust have stopped listening to, serving and paying attention to, and trusting the people of Texas” and are instead focused “extremist policies.”  O’Rourke, 49, represented El Paso in the U.S. House from 2013 to 2019, giving up his safe seat to make an unsuccessful run against Republican U.S. Senator Ted Cruz in 2018. Based on the national profile he built in the Senate race,  he ran for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020 but pulled out of the race before the Iowa caucuses as his campaign sputtered. (Posted November 15)

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NO END OF A LESSON: VIRGINIA DEMOCRATS DISCOVER THE OLD DOMINION IS NOT THAT “WOKE”

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics editor

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 Rich Shumate

VirginiaHeading into Tuesday’s elections in Virginia, the Republicans’ theory of the case was that they could ride a backlash against two years of total Democratic rule in Richmond back into power – that voters in the suburbs were mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. The results – loss of three statewide races and control of the House of Delegates — may have understated the case’s potency. Since the Democrats’ debacle, the chattering class has been busy theorizing that the inability of Democrats in Washington to push through President Joe Biden’s domestic spending agenda is to blame. But there is a deeper, much more local, reason for what happened — Virginia is not nearly as “woke” as Democrats had convinced themselves that it was, and they are now paying the price. (Posted November 5)

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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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