Chicken Fried Politics

LATEST COVERAGE

LOUISIANA GOVERNOR’S RUNOFF WILL PIT DEMOCRAT EDWARDS AGAINST REPUBLICAN RISPONE

Edwards and Rispone

Governor John Bel Edwards fell short of the majority he needed to win the state’s all-party “jungle” primary outright and will now face Eddie Rispone, a Baton Rouge businessman making his first run for political office in a Nov. 16 runoff. Rispone edged out GOP U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham for the second runoff spot. President Donald Trump made an election-eve visit to the state to rally Republican turnout. (Posted October 12)

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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 U.S. REPS. SPANBERGER, LURIA MOVE TOWARD IMPEACHMENT OVER UKRAINE ALLEGATIONS

Spanberger and Luria

Abigail Spanberger and Elaine Luria are part of a group of seven freshmen Democrats with military and national security backgrounds who signed on to an opinion piece in the Washington Post asserting the President Donald Trump committed “an impeachable offense” if he withheld military funding from Ukraine while pressuring that country’s new president to launch an investigation into political rival Joe Biden. The congresswomen, both of whom flipped GOP districts in 2018, had not previously supported moving toward impeachment. (Posted September 24)

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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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REPUBLICAN DAN BISHOP KEEPS NORTH CAROLINA 9TH DISTRICT U.S. HOUSE SEAT IN GOP HANDS

Bishop

Bolstered by an election-eve campaign appearance on his behalf by President Donald Trump, Bishop, a Republican state senator, squeaked out a victory over Democrat Dan McCready in a special election to fill the vacant 9th District seat. Bishop took 51 percent to 49 percent for McCready. In another special election in the 3rd District, Republican State Rep. Greg Murphy defeated Democrat Allen Thomas, the former mayor of Greenville. (Posted September 10)

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DEMOCRAT JON OSSOFF WILL CHALLENGE INCUMBENT GEORGIA GOP U.S. SENATOR DAVID PERDUE

Ossoff

Ossoff, 32, a former congressional aide and documentary filmmaker, became a political sensation in 2017 when he harnessed Democratic anger at President Donald Trump’s election to raise more than $30 million in an unsuccessful bid for a congressional seat in the Atlanta suburbs. His decision to run against Perdue gives Democrats a high-profile challenger with proven fundraising chops as they try to overturn the GOP’s three-seat majority in the Senate. (Posted September 10)

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FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR MARK SANFORD RUNNING AGAINST TRUMP

Sanford

Sanford announced a long-shot challenge to President Donald Trump for the 2020 Republican presidential nomination during an appearance on Fox News Sunday, faulting the president for straying from GOP orthodoxy on spending and trade and damaging the nation’s political culture. “This is the beginning of a long walk, but it begins with that first step,” Sanford said. (Posted September 8)

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WEST VIRGINIA DEMOCRATIC U.S. SENATOR JOE MANCHIN PASSES ON RUN FOR GOVERNOR

Manchin

After toying for months with the idea of leaving the U.S. Senate to claim the office he held from 2005 to 2010, Manchin has announced he will not run against Republican Governor Jim Justice in 2020. The decision deprives Democrats of the most formidable candidate they had to defeat Justice, who bolted to the GOP shortly after winning election as a Democrat in 2016. Manchin called the governorship “the best job I ever had” but said he decided he “couldn’t focus just on which job I enjoyed the most, but on where I could be the most effective.” (Posted September 3)

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GEORGIA REPUBLICAN U.S. SENATOR JOHNNY ISAKSON WILL RESIGN OVER HEALTH ISSUES

Isakson

Isakson announced his resignation, effective at the end of the year, two days after undergoing surgery to remove a tumor from his kidney. The decision means that both of the Peach State’s Senate seats will be open in 2020, giving Republicans another seat to defend in as they try to maintain their three-seat majority in Congress’s upper chamber. In addition to the latest surgery, Isakson, 74, has been battling Parkinson’s disease and was injured in a fall earlier in the summer at his Washington home.  He has served in the Senate since 2005. (Posted August 28)

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MISSISSIPPI LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR TATE REEVES WINS REPUBLICAN RUNOFF FOR GOVERNOR

Reeves

Reeves defeated former Supreme Court Justice Bill Waller Jr. in the August 27 runoff, by margin of 54 to 46 percent, setting up a November contest with Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood that could be the most competitive governor’s race in the Magnolia State in a generation. In the other statewide runoff, State Treasurer Lynn Fitch won the Republican nomination for attorney general to face Democrat Jennifer Riley-Collins, the former executive director of the ACLU of Mississippi. The winner will be the first woman to serve as the state’s top law enforcement official. (Posted August 27)

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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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KENTUCKY GOVERNOR’S RACE: BARBS FLY BETWEEN BEVIN, BESHEAR AT FANCY FARM PICNIC

Bevin speaks at picnic; Beshear works crowd

Kentucky’s August political ritual, the Fancy Farm picnic, is known for tasty barbecue, hot weather and barbed comments coming from politicians on the stage. But the nastiness went into overdrive Saturday amid highly contentious governor’s race between Republican Governor Matt Bevin and Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear, with both men — and their supporters — making it abundantly clear just how much they do not like each other. Democrats heckled Bevin with chants of “Throw Him Out;” Republicans retorted with “Four More Years” and “Daddy’s Boy.” (Posted August 4)

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TAUNTING MCCONNELL: KENTUCKY DEMOCRATS HIT “MOSCOW MITCH” AT POLITICAL PICNIC

In a sign that the derisive nickname recently attached to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may be taking hold in the political zeitgeist, a boisterous crowd of Democrats greeted him with chants of “Moscow Mitch” and waved Russian flags Saturday during his appearance at Kentucky’s famous Fancy Farm political picnic. Kentucky Democrats, who have been raising money by selling Russian-themed merchandise targeting the Senate leader, kept up the pressure at Saturday’s picnic, with shirts and signs connecting McConnell to Russia in the wake of his decision to derail election security bills in the Senate. One woman even sported a Russian fur hat in the 90-degree heat.

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SURPRISE MOVE: TEXAS REPUBLICAN U.S. REP. WILL HURD WILL NOT SEEK RE-ELECTION IN 2020

Hurd

Hurd’s announcement, which comes just two weeks after he voted with Democrats to condemn President Donald Trump over his tweets about four liberal House members, opens up up a prime pickup opportunity for Democrats in West Texas. The former undercover CIA agent had been considered a rising star among House Republicans before his surprise announcement. He said in a statement that he was leaving “in order to pursue opportunities outside the halls of Congress to solve problems at the nexus between technology and national security.” Hurd is the third Texas House Republican so far to forgo re-election next year. (Posted August 2)

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MOST SOUTHERN U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRATS KEEPING THEIR POWER DRY ON TRUMP IMPEACHMENT

While majority of members of the Democratic caucus have now come out publicly in favor of launching an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, Southern members are showing more caution about taking that political plunge. As of August 1, just 17 of the 50 Southern Democrats in the House have called for an impeachment inquiry, all but two of whom represent safe Democratic or majority-minority districts where support for impeachment presents them with little future political peril. Just two of the 10 Southern Democrats who flipped Republican seats in 2018 have come out in favor of an impeachment inquiry, and none of the five Southern Democrats representing districts Trump carried in 2016 have taken that step. (Posted August 1)

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ALABAMA SCRAMBLE: ROBY DEPARTURE OPENS 2ND U.S. HOUSE SEAT AHEAD OF REAPPORTIONMENT

Martha Roby

Republican U.S. Rep. Martha Roby surprised the political world Friday by announcing that she won’t seek re-election, leaving two of Alabama’s seven House seats open during next year’s election. And as large fields of Republicans scramble in primaries for those seats, they’ll do so with the expectation that one of them could have but a brief stay in Congress, depending on how the political cards fall following the 2020 U.S. Census. Alabama is set to lose one of its seven seats during the next reapportionment, which could leave six Republicans competing for five seats come 2022. (Posted July 28)

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WENDY DAVIS RETURNS TO THE LONE STAR STATE’S POLITICAL STAGE WITH A RUN FOR CONGRESS

Wendy Davis

Davis, a former Texas state senator whose 2014 run for governor started with high hopes but ended in a crushing 20-point defeat, will run for the 21st District U.S. House seat in 2020 against freshman Republican U.S. Rep. Chip Roy in the Austin suburbs. She is the first high-profile Democrat to take on Roy, who finds himself on the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s 2020 target list after winning the seat by less than 10,000 votes in 2018. Davis, 56, shot to national fame in 2013 by leading a filibuster against a bill that would have imposed new restrictions on legal abortion. (Posted July 22)

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5 SOUTHERN U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRATIC FRESHMEN POST STRONG FUNDRAISING NUMBERS

Topping the fundraising list midway through 2019 was U.S. Rep. Joe Cunningham of South Carolina at $1.28 million, followed by Lucy McBath of Georgia at $1.15 million and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia at $1.12 million. Kendra Horn of Oklahoma raised $961,500, while in Virginia, Elaine Luria raised $865,400. All five hold significant leads in fundraising over their Republican rivals, although McBath’s GOP challengers have, together, raised more money than she has. The new numbers also show that Democratic challengers in targeted Southern Republican seats have had more fundraising success to date than GOP challengers in targeted Democrat seats. (Posted July 20)

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TEXAS U.S. REP. WILL HURD IS LONE SOUTHERN REPUBLICAN TO SUPPORT CONDEMNING TRUMP

Hurd

Hurd, who represents a West Texas district carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016, was one of only four Republicans who voted for a resolution condemning President Donald Trump for “racist” tweets directed at four left-wing congresswomen, which passed the House on a largely party-line vote on July 16. Five Southern Democrats who represent districts Trump carried voted for the resolution, including Lucy McBath from Georgia, Kendra Horn from Oklahoma, Joe Cunningham from South Carolina, and Abigail Spanberger and Elaine Luria from Virginia. (Posted July 16)

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WILL SOUTH CAROLINA’S MARK SANFORD PULL TRIGGER ON TRUMP PRIMARY CHALLENGE?

Sanford

A year after losing his Lowcountry congressional seat to a primary challenger endorsed by President Donald Trump, Sanford is considering trying to once again resurrect his political career with a long-shot challenge against Trump for the Republican presidential nomination in 2020. “Sometimes in life you’ve got to say what you’ve got to say, whether there’s an audience or not for that message,” Sanford said in an interview with the Post and Courier newspaper, where he teased his intentions. “I feel convicted.” (Posted July 16)

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TWITTER WAR ESCALATES BETWEEN ANDREW GILLUM AND FLORIDA MEGA DONOR JOHN MORGAN

Gillum

Morgan

Morgan and Morgan may be “for the people,” but for Andrew Gillum, not so much. John Morgan, the Orlando lawyer and political mega donor who stars in TV ads for the law firm that bears his family’s name, has stepped up a nasty Twitter war with Gillum, the party’s defeated candidate for Florida governor in 2018, over Gillum’s decision to transfer leftover campaign money into a non-profit that doesn’t have to disclose how it spends the money. How nasty? Morgan signed off one Sunday tweet with, “Thank God for Florida that @GovRonDeSantis won.” Gillum fired right back: “I don’t live on your plantation and I don’t take advice from Trump impersonators & DeSantis suck ups.” (Posted July 15)

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NORTH CAROLINA U.S. HOUSE DISTRICT 3 GOP RUNOFF: GREG MURPHY DEFEATS JOAN PERRY

Murphy

In a setback to the cause of adding to the thin ranks of Republican women in the U.S. House, Republicans in North Carolina’s 3rd District have chosen State Rep. Greg Murphy as their nominee for a special election for one of two vacant seats in the state’s delegation. Murphy, a urologist from Greenville, defeated Joan Perry, a pediatrician from Kinston, who received significant financial support from outside groups pushing to elect more Republican women to the House. (Posted July 9)

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MCBATTLE 2020: AMY MCGRATH WILL TAKE ON MITCH MCCONNELL IN KENTUCKY U.S. SENATE RACE

McGrath announces Senate race on Twitter

After nearly unseating a sitting Republican congressman in 2018, Democrat Amy McGrath has set her sights on a much bigger target in 2020 — the most powerful Republican in Congress, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The retired Marine fighter pilot announced July 9 that she will challenge McConnell next year, setting the stage for a marquee Senate battle with national implications that will submerge 4.5 million Kentuckians in a sea of negative advertising. McGrath pulled no punches in her launch video, saying the senator “was elected a lifetime ago and has, bit by bit, year by year, turned Washington into something we all despise.” McConnell’s campaign responded in kind, launching a website WrongPathMcGrath.com. (Posted July 9)

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SNOOP GOV? KENTUCKY GOVERNOR MATT BEVIN BUSTS A RHYME IN NEW CAMPAIGN ATTACK

The querulous contest for Kentucky governor has descended to a completely new level of weird — with awkward Republican rap. In an effort to criticize Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear for accepting fundraising help from Hillary Clinton’s 2016 running mate, Tim Kaine, Republican Governor Matt Bevin posted a video in which he busts into rhyme, rap style. (Posted July 8)

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FORMER U.S. REP. SCOTT TAYLOR ATTEMPTS COMEBACK AGAINST U.S. SENATOR MARK WARNER

Taylor

Just six months after being ejected from Congress, Taylor has announced he will run against Warner in Virginia’s 2020 Senate race, rather than seeking a rematch with Democratic U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria, who ousted the Republican from his 2nd District seat in 2018. The former Navy SEAL launched his campaign with a video calling for “a fresh start in the Senate,” along with criticism of Warner’s role in investigating the Trump-Russia “illusion of collusion.” Warner is seeking his third term in the Senate. (Posted July 8)

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U.S. REP. MATT GAETZ OF FLORIDA FACES INVESTIGATION OVER TWEET TO MICHAEL COHEN

Gaetz

The House Ethics Committee will investigate whether Gaetz violated ethics rules when he posted a tweet directed toward President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, on the eve of his testimony to Congress. In the February 26 tweet, Gaetz asked, “Do your wife & father-in-law know about your girlfriends? Maybe tonight would be a good time for that chat.” An subcommittee will investigate if the tweet was meant to threaten Cohen or influence his testimony. Gaetz, who denied the tweet was a threat, deleted it and apologized. (Posted June 28)

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INSIGHT: ARE CRACKS APPEARING IN WALL OF RESISTANCE TO MEDICAID EXPANSION IN THE SOUTH?

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

After Obamacare made its way through Congress in 2009, triggering the Tea Party rebellion, Republican-controlled Southern statehouses became a redoubt of opposition to what critics saw as meddlesome socialist overreach.

So when the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that the Obama administration could not force states to expand Medicaid to cover more of their low-income residents, most Southern states took advantage of the decision and didn’t.

Today, nine of the 14 states that haven’t expanded Medicaid are in the South, leaving more than 2.3 million low-income Southerners who would qualify for Medicaid have no health care coverage at all. But there are some signs that the blanket opposition to expanding Medicaid may be retreating, albeit slightly and slowly, across the South. (Posted June 17)

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