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Electoral College: Despite protests, Southern electors stick with Trump

Trump carried 165 of the region’s 180 votes; two ‘faithless’ electors in Texas vote for Kasich, Ron Paul

♦By Rich Shumate, Chicken Fried editor

southern states sm(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.

Candidate Donald Trump

Donald Trump

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.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul drops out of presidential race to concentrate on Senate re-election

Paul’s decision comes two days after he finished fifth in the Iowa GOP caucus

kentucky mugLOUISVILLE (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.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul

U.S. Senator Rand Paul

“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.

Paul’s departure leaves three Southern Republicans in the presidential race — U.S. senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush,


U.S. Senator Rand Paul gets well-heeled challenger in Kentucky

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray’s entry into race may increase pressure on Paul to drop presidential bid

♦By Rich Shumate, editor

kentucky mugFRANKFORT, 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

Lexington Mayor Jim Gray

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.

U.S. Senator Rand Paul

U.S. Senator Rand Paul

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.




Poll: Kentuckians don’t want Rand Paul to run for both Senate and 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, editor

kentucky mugLOUISVILLE (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.

Rand Paul

Rand Paul

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.

Bob Barr’s political comeback falls short in Georgia

Barr, a former GOP congressman and 2008 Libertarian presidential candidate, loses U.S. House runoff

♦By Rich Shumate, editor

georgia mugMARIETTA, 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 lgBarr, 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.

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