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Trump carried 165 of the region’s 180 votes; two ‘faithless’ electors in Texas vote for Kasich, Ron Paul
♦By Rich Shumate, Chicken Fried Politics.com editor
(CFP) — 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. Hillary Clinton won the 13 electoral votes from Virginia, which was the only Southern state she carried.
The only place where Republican electors broke ranks was in Texas, where the defections of two Republican electors did not stop Trump from securing the 270 votes he needed to win the White House.
Chris Suprun, a Dallas paramedic who had previously announced he would not vote for Trump, cast his ballot for Ohio Governor John Kasich. Elector Bill Greene, who represented the 34th District, which takes in the Gulf Coast between Brownsville and Corpus Christi, voted for former Texas U.S. Rep. Ron Paul.
Afterward, Texas Governor Greg Abbott tweeted his support for a bill that would preclude so-called “faithless” electors by requiring them to vote for the candidate who carried the state on election day, in this case, Trump.
“This charade is over.,” Abbot said. “A bill is already filed to make these commitments binding. I look forward to signing it & ending this circus.
Twenty-nine states have laws binding electors to the popular vote winner in their states, including the Southern states of Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia. Currently in Texas, state law doesn’t bind electors, although the Texas GOP required them to take an oath pledging to vote for the popular vote winner.
The Electoral College vote is usually a formality to which scant public attention is paid. However, Trump’s surprise win on November 8, coupled with his loss to Clinton by more than 2.8 million votes in the popular vote, galvanized anti-Trump protests at state capitols around the country.
Small groups of protestors gathered in Tallahassee, Atlanta, Nashville, Raleigh, Austin, Oklahoma City and Montgomery.
In Austin, shouts from protestors were audible inside the State House chamber where electors met, according to local media reports.
In Little Rock, anti-Trump activists took many of the seats in the old Supreme Court chamber in the State Capitol, where the vote took place. According to local media reports, one protestor was removed, although the electors also chatted amiably with the demonstrators before the vote took place.
Paul’s decision comes two days after he finished fifth in the Iowa GOP caucus
LOUISVILLE (CFP) — U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has ended his quest for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination and will now concentrate on winning a second term in the Senate.
“Today, I end where I began, ready and willing to fight for the cause of liberty,” Paul said in a statement announcing his departure. “Brushfires of liberty were ignited, and those will carry on, as will I.”
Paul’s decision came just two days after he finished in fifth place in the Iowa presidential caucus, winning just 4.5 percent of the vote. He will now turn to his re-election race in Kentucky, which he was pursuing simultaneously with his presidential bid.
Paul, 53, ran a campaign appealing to the GOP’s libertarian wing, differing from many of his competitors by calling for less international intervention and opposing counterterrorism surveillance programs that he believed threatened civil liberties.
Considered a potential frontrunner early in the campaign, Paul’s campaign failed to catch fire and became mired in single digits in national polls.
The Kentucky GOP changed its presidential nominating contest to a caucus to facilitate Paul’s political double-dipping. But he had been under increasing pressure from within his party to abandon his floundering White House quest and focus on the Senate race, which intensified after he drew a high-profile Democratic challenger, Lexington Mayor Jim Gray.
Paul, an eye surgeon from Bowling Green, won election to the Senate in 2010 with Tea Party support. He is the son of former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who made three unsuccessful tries for the White House.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray’s entry into race may increase pressure on Paul to drop presidential bid
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
FRANKFORT, Kentucky (CFP) — As he battles to keep his presidential hopes alive, U.S. Senator Rand Paul has drawn a high-profile, independently wealthy Democratic challenger in his Senate re-election challenge back home in Kentucky.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray, chairman of his family’s international construction company, announced January 26 that he would challenge Paul, a first-term Republican who is simultaneously seeking the GOP presidential nomination and re-election to the Senate.
“Washington offers dysfunction and gridlock, and Senator Paul confuses talking with getting results,” Gray said in a video announcing his campaign. “He offers ideas that will weaken our country at home and abroad, and he puts himself and his own ambitions above Kentucky.
In 2014, Gray, 62, was elected to his second term as mayor of Lexington, the commonwealth’s second-largest city. He is one of seven Democrats who filed to run against Paul and–given his political profile and ability to self-fund his campaign–is the prohibitive favorite to be Paul’s opponent in November.
However, Gray is also openly gay, a probable complication in a state where Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis became a cause celebre after she want to jail last year for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Democrats have not won a Senate race in Kentucky since 1992. But Paul’s decision to run for two offices at once has put the Bluegrass State on the Democrats’ radar.
While the Kentucky GOP changed its presidential nominating contest to a caucus to facilitate Paul’s political double-dipping, he has been under increasing pressure from within his party to abandon his White House quest and focus on the Senate race–pressure that is likely to intensify now that he has a potentially formidable Democratic challenger.
The latest national polls in the Republican presidential contest show Paul mired in single digits.
Paul, 53, an eye surgeon from Bowling Green, won election to the Senate in 2010 with Tea Party support, besting a candidate backed by Kentucky’s Republican establishment. He is the son of former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, who made three unsuccessful tries for the White House.
Two-thirds of Bluegrass State voters, and a majority of Republicans, opposing changing state law to allow Paul to run for both offices
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriendpolitics.com editor
LOUISVILLE (CFP) — A new poll finds that Kentucky voters are less than enamored with the prospect of U.S. Senator Rand Paul seeking re-election in 2016 while also running for the Republican presidential nomination.
In a Bluegrass/Survey USA poll released September 1, 66 percent of state voters said they’re against changing Kentucky law to let Paul pursue both offices, something that is currently not allowed.
A majority of Republicans, 54 percent, were opposed, while only 36 percent supported the idea. Opposition rose to 57 percent among independent voters and 78 percent among Democrats.
Paul, who is considering a 2010 White House bid, maintains the Kentucky restriction is unconstitutional because of a 1995 Supreme Court ruling that a state can’t impose its own restrictions in races for federal offices.
GOP legislative leaders have been considering trying to change the law. However, that task is complicated by the fact that Democrats hold a four-seat majority Kentucky House, although that could change during legislative elections in November.
The law would only be necessary if Paul was successful in getting the Republican nomination. If he ran in the presidential primaries and didn’t win, he would be free to run for re-election to the Senate, as his father, Ron Paul, did in his U.S. House seat in Texas after he sought the White House in 2008.
The Senate seat of 2016 GOP presidential contender, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, is also up in 2016. But Rubio has said he will give up his Senate seat if he decides to run for president.
There is recent precedent for seeking national office and a Senate seat at the same time. In 2008, Joe Biden ran for both vice president and a Senate seat in Delaware, and, in 1960, Lyndon Johnson won re-election to the Senate from Texas at the same time he was winning the vice presidency.
In 2012, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan ran for both the House and the vice presidency at the same time. He kept his House seat after the Romney-Ryan ticket was defeated.
Barr, a former GOP congressman and 2008 Libertarian presidential candidate, loses U.S. House runoff
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
MARIETTA, Georgia (CFP) — Bob Barr, a former GOP congressman who bolted the party to seek the Libertarian presidential nomination in 2008, has fallen short in his bid to return to Congress as a Republican.
Barr, 65, lost the GOP runoff for Georgia’s open 11th District U.S. House seat to former State Senator Barry Loudermilk, who took 69 percent of the vote to 31 percent for Barr. Loudermilk had led in the first round of balloting on May 20.
Loudermilk’s win means he will be headed to Congress because no Democrat filed to run in the 11th District, a heavily Republican enclave in Atlanta’s northwest suburbs.
Barr, a former federal prosecutor, was first elected to Congress in the Republican wave of 1994. But he was defeated in a primary in 2002 after the Democratic-controlled Georgia legislature dismembered his district, forcing him to run against another Republican incumbent, former U.S. Rep. John Linder.
By 2006, Barr had left the GOP for the Libertarian Party and was its presidential nominee in 2008. He won just 0.4 percent of the national vote.
There is precedent for Barr’s attempt at a Republican comeback. Former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul returned to Congress as a Republican in 1996 after running as the Libertarian nominee in 1988.
The 11th District seat opened up when U.S Rep. Phil Gingrey made an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate.
Florida Republican, whose seat is up in 2016, says he won’t look for an “exit strategy”
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com editor
WASHINGTON (CFP) — U.S. Senator Marco Rubio says that if he runs for president in 2016, he won’t try to simultaneously run for re-election to his Senate seat, which would put him on the political sidelines should his White House bid fall short.
“I think, by and large, when you choose to do something as big as that, you’ve really got to be focused on that and not have an exit strategy,” the Florida Republican told radio host Hugh Hewitt. He says he won’t make a final decision on which office to seek until next spring.
Florida law currently does not allow a candidate to pursue two offices at once. However, Republicans control the state legislature — where Rubio once served — and the governorship, opening the possibility of changing the law to accommodate the senator.
The most famous case of running for two offices at once came in 1960, when Lyndon Johnson ran for the vice presidency and his Senate seat in Texas. He resigned the seat after winning the vice presidency.
Most recently, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan ran for re-election to his House seat in 2012 while he was also the GOP’s vice presidential nominee. That kept him in Congress after the Romney-Ryan ticket lost.
Another possible 2016 White House hopeful, U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky, is also up for re-election in 2016. Republicans in the Bluegrass State have been considering changing state law to allow Paul to pursue both offices.
Kentucky currently has a Democratic governor who could stand in the way, although the governorship will be up for election next year.
Paul’s father, former U.S. Rep. Ron Paul of Texas, ran for re-election to his House seat in 2008 after ending his unsuccessful bid for the Republican presidential nomination. However, when he ran again in 2012, he opted not to run for his House seat.
Paul is taking names of potential plaintiffs on his Web site — names that could be the foundation of a 2016 White House bid
♦By Rich Shumate, Chickenfriedpolitics.com
WASHINGTON (CFP) — Republican U.S. Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky is organizing a class-action lawsuit against the National Security Agency over its surveillance programs — a novel political gambit that could lay the groundwork for a 2016 White House bid.
Paul is soliciting potential plaintiffs for the suit on two political Web sites he operates — Rand Paul 2016 and RAND PAC. His stated goal is to get 10 million Americans to sign up for the class-action suit.
However, an unnamed senior Paul advisor told Politico that any names collected may also be added a database for Paul’s future political campaigns.
That would give him access to a ready pool of voters upset by NSA surveillance — voters who would be inclined to support Paul. He’s also asking them for donations.
Paul, 51, is in his first term in the Senate. He is up for re-election in Kentucky in 2016, but he is also being mentioned as a possible 2016 presidential candidate.
A champion of the GOP’s libertarian wing, Paul has been a harsh critic of NSA programs that sweep up phone records of millions of Americans for use in terrorism investigations.
Last week, President Barack Obama announced changes to the program to provide more judicial oversight — changes Paul insisted do not go far enough to protect Americans’ constitutional liberties.
In his solicitation for plaintiffs, Paul said he was “outraged” by the surveillance and “that’s why I’m going to do everything I can to stop this madness.”
“So please sign below and join my class-action lawsuit and help stop the government’s outrageous spying program on the American people,” Paul said.
“After you sign up, please make a generous donation to help rally up to ten million Americans to support my lawsuit to stop Big Brother from infringing on our Fourth Amendment freedoms.”
People who sign up will have their name, email address and ZIP code put in Paul’s political database. All of those fields are required.
A Paul adviser told Politico that more than 300,000 have signed on as possible plaintiffs.
If Paul does seek the White House in 2016, his presidential ambitions may be complicated by a Kentucky law that prohibits him from running simultaneously for Senate and president.
State Republicans currently aren’t in a position to change that law because Democrats control the state House.
The law would only apply if Paul was successful in getting the Republican nomination. If he ran in the presidential primaries and didn’t win, he would be free to run for re-election to the Senate, as his father, Ron Paul, did in his U.S. House seat in Texas after he sought the White House in 2008.
Paul’s camp maintains the Kentucky law is unconstitutional because of a 1995 Supreme Court ruling that a state can’t impose its own restrictions in races for federal offices.