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CUBAN-AMERICAN ACOSTA IS NEW PICK LABOR SECRETARY PICK

Alex Acosta

Alex Acosta

Acosta, the dean of Florida International University’s law school and a former federal prosecutor in Florida, was selected to head the U.S. Department of Labor a day after Trump’s first pick for the post, fast food magnate Andrew Puzder, withdrew from consideration when his Senate confirmation ran aground. Acosta, 48, a Cuban-American, previously served in the Justice Department as U.S. attorney in Miami and head of the Civil Rights Division and has also been a member of the National Labor Relations Board. If confirmed, Acosta will be the first, and so far only, Latino in the Trump cabinet. (Posted February 16)

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GEORGIA’S PERDUE NAMED AS TRUMP’S NEW AGRICULTURE CHIEF

Sonny Perdue

Sonny Perdue

If confirmed by the Senate, Perdue, the former governor of Georgia, will oversee the sprawling U.S. Department of Agriculture, with more than 100,000 employees and a $140 billion budget. In addition to farm programs, the department also oversees food safety, national forests and the food stamp program that provides nutritional assistance to more than 40 million low-income Americans. Perdue, 70, a veterinarian by training who grew up on a family farm, served two terms as Georgia governor from 2003 to 2011. His election in 2002 marked the first time a Republican had won the state’s chief executive post since Reconstruction. (Posted January 19)

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13 SOUTHERN HOUSE DEMOCRATS BOYCOTT TRUMP INAUGURAL

John Lewis

John Lewis

Thirteen of the 40 Southern Democrats in the U.S. House have announced that they will not take part in January 20 inauguration of Donald Trump. Lawmakers from Florida, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia are among the no-shows. All represent urban or black-majority districts that were carried by Democrat Hillary Clinton. Trump’s tweets castigating U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Georgia, for boycotting the inaugural seemed to particularly rankle some of the members opting not to attend. Trump’s reaction was denounced as “repugnant,” “ignorant,” and “insensitive and foolish.” (Posted January 18)

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SOUTHERN ELECTORS GO FOR TRUMP, BUT 2 DEFECT IN TEXAS

Trump

Trump

Members of the Electoral College have met at 14 Southern statehouses and, as expected, gave the overwhelming majority of the region’s electoral votes to President-elect Donald Trump, ignoring calls by anti-Trump protestors to stop his elevation to the nation’s highest office. Trump carried 165 of the South’s 180 electoral votes in the December 19 vote. The only place where Republican electors broke ranks was in Texas, where two electors cast ballots for Ohio Governor John Kasich and former Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul. Hillary Clinton won the 13 electoral votes from Virginia, which was the only Southern state she carried. (Posted December 19)

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S. CAROLINA U.S. REP. MICK MULVANEY PICKED AS BUDGET CHIEF

Mulvaney

Mulvaney

Mulvaney, an ardent proponent of deep cuts in federal spending, has been selected to be the next director of the Office of Management and Budget, which oversees administration budget plans. In the House, Mulvaney, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, has taken on his own GOP leadership over government spending, opposing a 2013 bi-partisan budget deal designed to prevent a government shutdown. Should Mulvaney be confirmed by the Senate, a special election will be triggered in the South Carolina’s 5th District, which Mulvaney has represented since 2011. (Posted December 18)

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RICK PERRY TAPPED TO HEAD TRUMP’S ENERGY DEPARTMENT

Perry

Perry

Perry, the former Texas governor, has been nominated to head the U.S. Department of Energy, despite his scathing criticism of President-elect Donald Trump when the two men battled for the Republican presidential nomination. Perry had also pledged to eliminate the department during his two presidential campaigns, most notably in his infamous “ooops” moment during a 2011 debate when he was unable to remember Energy as one of the three departments he had pledged to abolish. Perry, 66, served 14 years as governor of Texas from 2000 to 2014, the longest tenure of any governor in state history. (Posted December 14)

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OKLAHOMA ATTORNEY GENERAL SCOTT PRUITT GETS EPA POST

Pruitt

Pruitt

Pruitt, a vocal critic of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations on coal-fired power plants and a skeptic of climate change science, has been nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to be the agency’s next leader. The pick quickly drew fire from environmentalists, with the head of the Sierra Club likening Pruitt’s selection to “putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires.” As attorney general, Pruitt has sued the EPA and publicly criticized what he called its “anti-fossil fuel agenda.” (Posted December 8)

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SECOND TEXAS GOP ELECTOR SAYS HE WON’T VOTE FOR TRUMP

Suprun

Suprun

Chris Suprun, a paramedic from Dallas, announced in a New York Times op-ed that he won’t vote for Donald Trump because the president-elect “shows daily he is not qualified for the office.” He said presidential electors “have the legal right and a constitutional duty to vote their conscience,” calling on them to “unify behind a Republican alternative,” such as Ohio Governor John Kasich. Texas law doesn’t require electors to vote for Trump, who carried the state, although the Texas GOP requires them to take a pledge to do so. (Published December 6)

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OBAMACARE CRITIC PRICE PICKED TO HEAD HEALTH CARE AGENCY

Price

Price

U.S. Rep. Tom Price of Georgia, who has led the charge in Congress to repeal Obamacare, has been nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to head the Department of Health and Human Services, a post that took on vast new powers under the Affordable Care Act passed in 2009.  Price, 62, an orthopedic surgeon, has led the charge in Congress to repeal Obamacare, a policy Trump vowed to pursue during the campaign. His confirmation to the HHS post will trigger a special election in Georgia’s heavily Republican 6th District, which takes in upscale suburbs north of the city of Atlanta. (Posted November 29)

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GOP ELECTOR RESIGNS, SAYS TRUMP VOTE WOULD DISHONOR GOD

Sisneros (Photo from Texas Monthly)

Sisneros

A Christian conservative presidential elector in Texas has resigned rather than cast a vote for Donald Trump, dismissing the president-elect as not “biblically qualified” to be president. In a blog post announcing his resignation, Art Sisneros said he could neither vote for Trump nor break a pledge he made to the Texas Republican Party to support the winner of the November 8 election. “I believe voting for Trump would bring dishonor to God,” Sisneros said. Under state law, the rest of Texas’s electors will select a replacement for Sisneros when they convene in Austin on December 19. (Posted November 28) Photo Courtesy Art Sisneros/Texas Monthly

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SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR NOMINATED FOR U.N. AMBASSADOR

Haley

Haley

Governor Nikki Haley has been nominated by President-elect Donald Trump to be the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, despite her earlier criticism of him and endorsements of two of his Republican rivals. Although Haley has little foreign policy experience, Trump, in a statement announcing her nomination, said she “is a proven deal maker, and we look to be making plenty of deals.” Haley, 44, the daughter of Sikh immigrants from India, is the first woman ever elected as governor in South Carolina. If she is confirmed, Republican Lieutenant Governor Henry McMaster will take over the Palmetto State’s governorship. (Posted November 23)

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ALABAMA’S SESSIONS NOMINATED FOR U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL

Sessions

Sessions

President-elect Donald Trump has picked U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, who was the first senator to endorse his presidential bid, to be the nation’s next attorney general, calling him “a world-class legal mind” who is “greatly admired by legal scholars and virtually everyone who knows him.” The selection of Sessions is likely to reignite a controversy from the 1980s, when his nomination to be a federal judge in Alabama was scuttled amid accusations the he made racially insensitive comments, which he denied. If Sessions is confirmed by the Senate, his vacant seat will be filled temporarily by Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, with a special election to follow. (Posted November 18)

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ELECTION 2016: TRUMP CARRIES 13 SOUTHERN STATES; CLINTON, 1

election-central-16Republican Donald Trump blazed through the South on his way to the White House, defeating Hillary Clinton in the battleground states of Florida and North Carolina. Trump won 13 of 14 Southern states, with a combined 167 electoral votes, a better performance than Mitt Romney had in 2012, when he took 12. Trump’s haul of Southern electoral votes made up 58 percent of his national total. Clinton’s only Southern victory came in Virginia, where she defeated Trump by a margin of 50-46 percent, thanks to a late vote surge from the Washington, D.C. suburbs. (Posted November 9)

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