Chicken Fried Politics

LATEST COVERAGE

12 FORMER SOUTHERN SENATORS AMONG GROUP URGING CURRENT SENATE TO DEFEND DEMOCRACY

Twelve former Southern senators have joined an open letter calling on current senators “to be steadfast and zealous” in guarding democracy amid “serious challenges to the rule of law” flowing from investigations of President Trump and his administration. “It is our shared view that we are entering a dangerous period, and we feel an obligation to speak up about serious challenges to the rule of law, the Constitution, our governing institutions and our national security,” wrote a bipartisan group of 44 former senators in the letter, which was published December 10 in the Washington Post. The group includes 11 former Democratic senators from the South and one Republican,  John Warner of Virginia. (Posted December 11)

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HARRIS SUPPORTS RERUN OF NORTH CAROLINA U.S. HOUSE RACE IF FRAUD AFFECTED OUTCOME

Mark Harris

Mark Harris, the Republican candidate in North Carolina’s 9th U.S. House District, said he will support a rerun of his race with Democrat Dan McCready if elections officials find proof that voter fraud affected the outcome of the November 6 vote. In a video statement, Harris also said he was “absolutely unaware” of any wrongdoing by his campaign and pledged to cooperate with an investigation by the North Carolina State Board of Elections into allegations of fraud in absentee ballots linked to a subcontractor paid for work by his campaign. (Posted December 9)

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U.S. SENATOR JOHN KENNEDY DECIDES NOT TO RUN FOR LOUISIANA GOVERNOR IN 2019

John Kennedy

Kennedy, in a statement announcing his decision, said, “It is such an honor to represent the people of Louisiana in the United States Senate. Right now, that’s where I think I can do the most good.” The senator, who has won statewide office six times, would have been a formidable challenger to Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards, the  only Democrat holding a governorship in the Deep South. The only Republican in the race so far is Baton Rouge businessman Eddie Rispone, although U.S. Rep. Ralph Abraham is considering a bid. (Posted December 3)

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INSIGHT: 2018 RESULTS SHOW HOW NOMINATING “PROGRESSIVES” IN SOUTH PLAYS INTO GOP HANDS

♦By Rich Shumate, ChickenFriedPolitics.com editor

Heading into the midterm elections, there was a great deal of chatter around the thesis that Democrats had found a new way to win statewide races in the South — by nominating liberals who fashion themselves as “progressives” and could rally the Democratic base in general and minority voters in particular. No more mamby pamby moderates, please. Give Southerners liberalism unvarnished, and they would come.

But, alas for Democrats, this chatter proved to be rather idle. Beto O’Rourke is not going to be a U.S. senator from Texas. Andrew Gillum will not be governor of Florida, and Stacey Abrams will not be governor of Georgia. And as Democrats look ahead to 2020, the results in the South in 2018 illustrate why the strategy of tacking to the left may play right into the hands of the two men they most love to hate, Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. (Posted November 30)

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DECISION ’18: HYDE-SMITH BEATS ESPY TO CLAIM LAST UNDECIDED 2018 U.S. SENATE SEAT

Hyde-Smith

After a racially charged three-week runoff campaign, Republican U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith has held on to her seat in Mississippi, defeating Democrat Mike Espy in the nation’s last remaining Senate contest. Hyde-Smith took 54 percent in the November 27 vote to 46 percent for Espy, a former congressman who was trying to make a return to politics after a 20-year absence. She is the first woman ever elected to the Senate from the Magnolia State. With Hyde-Smith’s win, Republicans will hold 53 seats in the next Senate, to 45 for Democrats and two independents who caucus with the Democrats. (Posted November 28)

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4 SOUTHERN DEMOCRATS AMONG REBELS OPPOSING NANCY PELOSI FOR U.S HOUSE SPEAKER

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi

After an election season in which Republicans used the specter of Pelosi’s speakership as a weapon against their Democratic opponents, four Southern Democrats, including two incoming freshman, have signed on to an effort to replace her as Democratic leader. Incumbents Jim Cooper of Tennessee and Filemon Vela of Texas and newcomer Joe Cunningham of South Carolina are among 16 House members who signed a letter calling for “new leadership” in the Democratic caucus. Another incoming freshman, Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, has also said she will oppose Pelosi. Four other new members — Colin Allred of Texas, Kendra Horn of Oklahoma, Lucy McBath of Georgia, and Elaine Luria of Virginia — have not taken a position. (Posted November 22)

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DECISION ’18: DEMOCRATS’ NET GAIN OF 10 SOUTHERN U.S. HOUSE SEATS CAME IN SUBURBS

With one uncalled seat in Georgia heading for a recount, Democrats have made a net gain of 10 U.S. House seats across the 14 Southern states in the November 6 election, an improvement over their results in 2014 and 2016 but only about a third of the seats they targeted. Democratic gains were centered in suburban areas around major cities, and they also made breakthroughs in Oklahoma and South Carolina. However, Democrats went 0-for-4 in targeted seats in North Carolina, 2-for-9 in Florida and 2-for-8 in Texas. They also fell short in targeted races in the upper South states of Arkansas, Kentucky and West Virginia. Republicans will still hold a 2-to-1 advantage in Southern seats when Congress convenes in January. (Posted November 18)

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DECISION ’18: FLORIDA GOVERNOR’S RACE ENDS WITH ANDREW GILLUM’S 2ND CONCESSION

Gillum

DeSantis

The Florida governor’s race has come to an end with Democrat Andrew Gillum’s second concession to Republican Governor-elect Ron DeSantis. Gillum — who had conceded on election night but took it back after late-reporting results showed the race tightening — took to Facebook Saturday to offer his congratulations to DeSantis and thank his supporters. After a statewide machine recount, Gillum trailed DeSantis by 32,500 votes. (Posted November 18)

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DECISION ’18: AFTER RECOUNTS, NELSON CONCEDES TO SCOTT IN FLORIDA U.S. SENATE RACE

Bill Nelson

Rick Scott

After protests, a flurry of lawsuits and two recounts, Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson has conceded defeat to Republican Governor Rick Scott, possibly bringing the curtain down on a political career that spanned more than four decades and included a trip into space. In a video released by his campaign, Nelson said that while he lost the Senate race, “I by no means feel defeated, and that’s because I’ve had the great privilege of serving the people of Florida and our country for most of my life.” He also made a plea for more civility to combat “a gathering darkness” in American political life. (Posted November 18)

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DECISION ’18: ABRAMS ACCEPTS KEMP’S WIN FOR GEORGIA GOVERNOR BUT WON’T CONCEDE

Abrams accepting Kemp’s win in Atlanta (From YouTube)

Saying she sees “no further remedy” to allow her to overcome Republican Brian Kemp’s lead in Georgia’s governor’s race, Democrat Stacey Abrams has acknowledged Kemp’s win but is refusing to concede and vowing to file a federal lawsuit over what she sees as his “malpractice” in administering the election as secretary of state. She said “as a woman of conscience and faith” she could not concede “because concession means to acknowledge an action is right and proper.” In his response to Abrams’s non-concession concession, Kemp said he appreciated “her passion, hard work and commitment” but said “we can no longer dwell on the divisive politics of the past but must focus on Georgia’s bright and promising future.” (Posted November 16)

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DECISION ’18: REPUBLICAN KAREN HANDEL’S HARD-WON STAY IN CONGRESS COMES TO A SWIFT END

McBath

Handel

In April 2017, Handel, after twice losing races for statewide office, had arrived at the promised land, at end of a very long road. She won a special election to fill Georgia’s 6th District U.S. House seat, narrowly defeating Democratic newcomer Jon Ossoff after $50 million was spent in a race fueled by Democratic anger over the election of Donald Trump. Her future seemed assured in the 6th, anchored in Atlanta’s wealthy northern suburbs and previously held by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former U.S. Rep. Tom Price. When Ossoff decided not to challenge Handel again in the midterm election, her seat seemed secure — until Tuesday’s midterm election, when Handel lost her seat to Democrat Lucy McBath, who didn’t have Handel’s political pedigree but did have a compelling personal story and an issue, gun control. (Posted November 8)

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DECISION ’18: DEMOCRATS FAIL TO DENT REPUBLICANS’ SOUTHERN DOMINANCE IN MIDTERMS

The big, blue wave that Democrats hoped would carry them to a breakthrough in the South crashed into the Republican’s big, red wall in Tuesday’s midterm elections. Republicans won the high-profile governor’s race in Florida and held a lead in Georgia, easily defended U.S. Senate seats in Texas and Tennessee and appear to have ousted Democratic U.S. Senator Bill Nelson in Florida. The lone bright spot for Democrats in statewide races was in West Virginia, where U.S. Senator Joe Manchin held his seat. Democrats did flip at least eight Republican-held U.S. House seats, ousting three incumbents in Virginia and winning a seat in Oklahoma that they had not won in more than 40 years. Four House seats are still too close to call, with Republicans leading in three of them. (Posted November 7)

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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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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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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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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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