Today, we stay in the South and look at the races in Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee. I do not believe there is a single pundit who believes there will be any changes out of Alabama. In the Senate race, the Democrats have conceded and are not even running a candidate. Hence, [mc_name name=’Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’S001141′ ] walks back into the Senate come 2015. The Democrats may have thought they had their man for Governor in Parker Griffith who has changed parties twice now. Obviously, the voters of Alabama are seeing through this charade or political opportunism and rejecting him. Griffith has been attacking Bentley over a looming $200 million state budget deficit and how he will fix it. For his part, incumbent GOP Governor Robert Bentley is playing it safe. And while the mainstream media fixates on alleged Republican campaign miscues, they ignore Griffith’s recent profanity-laced attack on a Birmingham talk show host. Bentley will easily win this race easily by over 30 points.
The Alabama congressional delegation currently is 6-1 in favor of the GOP. Two Republicans are running unopposed. I cannot foresee any of these races being closely competitive and all incumbents should easily win reelection.
The only Alabama ballot question of interest would be a requirement that any gun control measure be subjected to judicial strict scrutiny- a high bar to survive judicial review. In essence, it is a re-assertion of the Second Amendment.
Moving a little north to Tennessee, a similar dynamic as that which exists in Alabama is present here. Republican Governor Bill Haslam should win reelection in double digit territory over Democratic challenger Charlie Brown. Likewise, in the Senate race, GOP incumbent [mc_name name=’Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’A000360′ ] will also likely win by double digits against his challenger, Gordon Ball by about 17 points.
Regarding Alexander, he survived a Tea Party primary challenge and appears poised to win an easy reelection to the Senate on November 4th. The problem for the Democrats was difficulty in finding a candidate to run against him. Ball originally was slated to run in the 4th Congressional District race, but withdrew to run against Alexander. While many here and elsewhere may not like [mc_name name=’Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’A000360′ ]- especially his stances on immigration- he represents a necessary evil in a move to control the Senate.
In Tennessee, the Congressional delegation favors the GOP 7-2. Again, it is difficult to see that changing much, although there is a slight possibility. Probably the most watched race this year as far as the primaries went was the 4th Congressional District where scandal-plagued DesJarlais survived by a mere 38 votes. This is a fairly Republican district and given DesJarlais’ conservative voting record in Congress, he should win. The possible flip race would be the 5th where Democratic incumbent [mc_name name=’Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’C000754′ ] faces Bob Ries, back for a third try. Unfortunately for the GOP, 67% of the 5th’s population lives in Nashville (Davidson County)- a Democratic bastion. This should be enough to push Cooper over the top, although this may be a race to watch this year.
There is one major ballot issue regarding abortion. The Tennessee Constitution has some of the strongest protections of personal privacy in the country- protections their state supreme court has extended to abortion. This measure would grant the state legislature to bypass some of those privacy obstacles and enact abortion legislation. Women’s groups in the area are portraying this as a regional issue since many women from Mississippi, Kentucky and Alabama travel to Tennessee for abortions given the few facilities in those states. Churches throughout Tennessee recently held a “Yes to 1 Sunday” where they urged parishioners to vote “yes” on the measure. This may play into increased conservative/Republican turnout as the measure is probably the most contentious in Tennessee this year and could potentially shave a few percentage points off either [mc_name name=’Rep. Jim Cooper (D-TN)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’C000754′ ] in the 5th and Stephen Cohen in the 9th, but probably not enough to lead to their defeat.
Now to Mississippi. It was a contentious primary and runoff that enabled GOP incumbent and the bane of many here at Redstate to make incumbent Republican [mc_name name=’Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS)’ chamber=’senate’ mcid=’C000567′ ] the candidate again. Like Alexander to the north in Tennessee, he has become a necessary evil in GOP plans to win the Senate. This writer believes that Mississippi is considerably red enough that Cochran will win reelection. For me, the problem is the man given these other dynamics. Had Chris McDaniel won, he too likely would have defeated Democratic challenger and former congressman Travis Childers. Bizarre interference in the primary and runoff battle where Democrats injected themselves into the race to ensure a Cochran victory has to have some kind of payoff at the end by Cochran to groups that got him this far. That is a scary thought.
And I do not believe that Cochran is a particularly popular Republican in Mississippi and certainly not a popular conservative nationally. Considering that Cochran was on the retirement watch list for a long time and defied the pundits, to me, coupled with the lengths he went to ensure the nomination indicates a hidden agenda of some kind. One should take solace in the fact that Cochran will likely not be a candidate in 2020, but his feet should be held to the conservative fire for the next six years. It should also be noted that Cochran leads Childers in polling by an average of 15 points. Considering that a Republican Senator from this state wins by an average of 30 points since 1990 is further indication that Cochran is not overly popular in Mississippi. Prediction: Cochran wins reelection by about 15-20 points.
The state’s congressional delegation favors the Republican Party 3-1 and should stay that way. If anyone should get booted, it should be Second District Congressman and Democratic incumbent [mc_name name=’Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’T000193′ ]. Unfortunately, the race-baiter who called Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas an “Uncle Tom” this year faces no Republican opposition and he will walk into reelection.
There are two questions on the ballot of interest. The first would implement a 6-day early voting period which this writer endorses and the other would require teacher performance evaluations for pay and raises, which I also endorse. Both are commonsense, needed reforms in their respective areas.
Next: Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas