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In 2005 and 2006, two moderate Democratic candidates, Jim Webb and Tim Kaine, won in Virginia with large margins in the Washington suburbs. Their victories demonstrated that there was a new path to victory for Democrats, one that did not depend on winning Southern conservative Democrats, the way Mark Warner did in 2001.

Georgia might well be moving down the same road as Virginia. No other plausibly competitive state — not Nevada or Virginia, not Colorado or North Carolina — has had a change in the racial composition of the electorate that’s as favorable for Democrats. That’s giving Georgia Democrats hope that they might win a race that they almost certainly would have viewed as a lost cause only a few years ago.

After more than two months of intraparty fighting, David Perdue, a former chief executive of Dollar General, won Tuesday’s Republican runoff in Georgia to become his party’s Senate nominee, setting up one of the few contests where Democrats have hopes of taking a Republican-controlled seat in the midterm elections.

Mr. Perdue’s victory over Jack Kingston, an 11-term Georgia congressman, with just under 51 percent of the vote on Tuesday evening upset both public polling predictions and conventional wisdom, which had Mr. Kingston slightly ahead, despite having finished second to Mr. Perdue in the May primary. In the general election, Mr. Perdue will face Michelle Nunn, a Democrat, former chief executive of the Points of Light volunteer group and the daughter of Sam Nunn, the former Georgia senator.

The Sun-Sentinel reports:

TALLAHASSEE — Florida’s re-drawn congressional map intentionally favors Republicans in violation of the anti-gerrymandering standards voters approved in 2010 and will have to be re-drawn, according to a ruling late Thursday from a Tallahassee judge.

The judge found particular problems with two seats that knife through Central Florida, held by Reps. Corrine Brown, D-Jacksonville, and Daniel Webster, R-Winter Garden.

The 41-page order from Leon County Circuit Judge Terry Lewis will almost certainly be appealed to the Florida Supreme Court. But if the decision is upheld, lawmakers or the courts could have to go back to the drawing board to design congressional seats throughout Central Florida to comply with the Fair Districts mandate that seats not be drawn to intentionally favor incumbents or parties.

In his ruling, Lewis quoted President George Washington’s farewell address warning of associations of “cunning, ambitious and unprincipled men” who could subvert the will of voters.

The New York Times reports:

Along with the only-in-Texas melodrama, the power struggle mirrored conflicts that have brought down several state university presidents around the country, after years of declining state subsidies, unpopular program cuts and tuition increases, and fear of rising competition from online programs.

University trustees, often politically connected business executives, have increasingly embraced the view that fundamental change is needed to turn universities into engines of economic development for their states and reduce their roles as centers of scholarship.

[Gov. Rick] Perry has pushed for changes promoted by a conservative think tank, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, and developed by one of its board members, that take a skeptical view of academic research and place a greater emphasis on instruction, cost-efficiency and preparing students for the job market. Widely popular among faculty and students, [university president William] Powers has pushed back in defense of more traditional academics and the university’s independence.

State universities make college affordable for many of us and are worth every penny states invest in them, but don’t you hate it when politicians started meddling?

JACKSON, Miss. — After President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act in July 1964, civil rights was the last thing he wanted to talk about. He feared that being associated too closely with the issue would make him appear too liberal for voters coming into that fall’s presidential election. But with the disappearance of three civil rights workers in Mississippi and the threat of violence hanging over what became known as Freedom Summer, he knew he had to act. Afraid of the political consequences of sending in the military, he instead turned to the F.B.I. and its longtime director, J. Edgar Hoover, who until then had shown little sympathy for the civil rights movement and thought that many of its members were Communists.

In response to the president’s demands, Hoover hastily opened a field office in Jackson, a step that would take on hugely symbolic importance for both Mississippi and the F.B.I. On Thursday, the 50th anniversary of the office’s opening was recalled with a small ceremony in which officials and dignitaries, including the deputy F.B.I. director, Mark F. Giuliano, discussed how the bureau’s relationship with both white and black Mississippians had evolved in the years since 1964.

Former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was sentenced on Wednesday to 10 years in federal prison. Nagin, 58, the two-term mayor who was the face of the city during Hurricane Katrina, joins a list of Louisiana elected officials convicted of misdeeds. He is New Orleans’ first mayor to be convicted and sent to prison for public corruption.

Reporting on a voting rights dispute in Shelby, North Carolina, The New York Times says:

The bitter disagreement in this city of 20,000 is part of a broader voting rights battle charged by race and partisan politics that is happening in a number of communities, many of them Southern, where changes to election laws no longer require advance approval from the federal government after a year-old Supreme Court ruling voided a key section of the Voting Rights Act.

Voting rights advocates fear that these local changes — combined with a number of new state laws restricting ballot access and requiring voters to show picture IDs — amount to a concerted effort to reduce voting by minority groups. Conservatives say that the laws ensure against voter fraud, and in some cases are more cost-efficient.

According to The Daily Independent, a newspaper in Ashland, Ky., Senator Mitch McConnell, while speaking at a national Right to Life Convention in Louisville last month, told the crowd that if Republicans gained control of the Senate, they would schedule a vote on legislation to outlaw abortions after 20 weeks.
From a column by Charles Blow in The New York Times: Democrats Face a Tough Fight to Hold the Senate - NYTimes.com
Inclusion is everything, and he has long considered it the South’s mission, and his own, to build bridges between white and black people.
Frank Bruni, writing about Charleston, S.C., mayor Joe Riley: Is Joe Riley of Charleston the Most Loved Politician in America? - NYTimes.com

Civil rights groups have spent a decade fighting requirements that voters show photo identification, arguing that this discriminates against African-Americans, Hispanics and the poor. This week in a North Carolina courtroom, another group will make its case that such laws are discriminatory: college students.

Joining a challenge to a state law alongside the N.A.A.C.P., the American Civil Liberties Union and the Justice Department, lawyers for seven college students and three voter-registration advocates are making the novel constitutional argument that the law violates the 26th Amendment, which lowered the voting age to 18 from 21. The amendment also declares that the right to vote “shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age.”