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Republican U.S. Senate incumbents trying to fight off Democratic challengers

Florida and North Carolina are Senate battlegrounds; Louisiana holds all-party primary for Vitter’s seat

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

election-central-16(CFP) — Nine GOP-held Southern U.S. Senate seats are up for grabs in the November 8 election, with Republican incumbents heavily favored in six races.

The exceptions are Florida, where Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio is facing off against Democratic U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy, and in North Carolina, where the GOP incumbent, U.S. Senator Richard Burr, is facing Deborah Ross, a former state legislator and Duke University law professor.

And in Louisiana, 24 candidates are running in an all-party “jungle” primary, with the top two vote-getters advancing to a December 10 runoff, which could potentially decide the balance of power in the Senate.

Pre-election polls have shown Republican State Treasurer John Kennedy in the lead, followed by Public Service Commissioner Foster Campbell, a Democrat; Republican U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany of Lafayette; and Democrat Caroline Fayard, a New Orleans lawyer.

If Kennedy and Boustany can both clear the runoff, the GOP would be guaranteed of keeping the seat, now held by U.S. Senator David Vitter. But if Campbell or Fayard can come through, the December 10 runoff will be the last word on Senate races this year — and, if the Senate is closely divided, decide which party controls the chamber.

In addition to Rubio and Burr, Republican incumbents are seeking re-election in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and South Carolina.

All are heavily favored, although the race in Georgia between U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson  and Democratic businessman Jim Barksdale is somewhat more competitive.

In Alabama, Richard Shelby faces Democrat Ron Crumpton, a marijuana rights activist; in Arkansas John Boozman is seeking a second term against Democrat Conner Eldridge, a former federal prosecutor from Fayetteville; and in Kentucky, Rand Paul is running against Lexington Mayor Jim Gray.

In Oklahoma,  James Lankford faces Mike Workman, a Tulsa political consultant, and in South Carolina, Tim Scott, the only black Republican in the Senate, faces Democrat Thomas Dixon, a Charleston pastor.

Candidates spar over North Carolina’s bathroom bill in governor’s debate

Governor Pat McCrory defends Trump, says Caitlyn Jenner would have to use men’s shower

♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor

north-carolina mugRALEIGH (CFP) — Facing off in a debate less than a month before voters go to the polls, Republican Governor Pat McCrory and his Democratic challenger, Attorney General Roy Cooper, sparred over a series of controversial laws passed by North Carolina’s GOP-controlled legislature, in particular a controversial measure that requires transgendered people to use bathrooms and shower facilities that conform with their birth gender in public facilities.

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory

In the October 12 debate, sponsored by the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters and airing on UNC-TV, the governor also continued to defend his endorsement of Donald Trump after video surfaced on October 7 in which the Republican presidential nominee made braggadocious comments about being allowed to grab women’s genitals because of his celebrity.

“Mr. Trump needs to have his mouth washed out with soap, but so does Mrs. Clinton,” McCrory said.

In response, Cooper said that “it’s hard to believe that Governor McCrory continues to support a presidential candidate who condones sexual assault.”

“Governor McCrory and Donald Trump are a lot alike. They both have trouble with the facts, and they both engage in divisive rhetoric.”

McCrory, who has come under national criticism for HB 2, the so-called bathroom bill, defended his support for the law, saying that it was the result of “a major change in culture” initiated by city officials in Charlotte, who had passed a measure outlawing discrimination against transgendered people that HB 2 overturned.

“We never brought this issue up. It was the mayor of Charlotte, with strong support from the attorney general,” the governor said. “It wasn’t called for. It was the liberals that brought it up.”

But Cooper called for the law’s repeal, saying that “it writes discrimination into our law, and it has been a disaster for our economy.”

“This legislation was passed in one day and signed in the middle of the night. And Governor McCrory continues to go across the state telling people that this is not hurting our economy,” Cooper said. “Governor, what planet are you on?”

In response to the passage of the bathroom bill, a number of businesses have cancelled plans to move or expand in North Carolina, and the NBA, NCAA and ACC have all pulled events from the Tar Heel State.

McCrory was asked by the debate’s moderator, NBC’s Chuck Todd, if the law would force Caitlyn Jenner, a former Olympic athlete and the nation’s best-known transgendered women, to use men’s bathroom facilities.

The governor said that while private businesses had the right to decide that for themselves under state law, “If she’s going to shower at a facility at UNC-Chapel Hill after running around the track, she’s going to use the men’s shower. ”

Recent polls in the race have shown Cooper with a slight lead.

Here is the full video of the October 11 debate.

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