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Southern Politics: Same Old Song and Dance

In the South, politicians often behave in ways that are both shady and self-interested. There were several stories along those lines this week.

To start, our great national nightmare in Florida is over, as the Mouse and the louse are no longer on the outs. Since Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) took steps to punish Disney nearly 2 years ago for pushing back against his anti-LGBTQ stance, lawsuits have been flying back and forth, with each side trying to demonstrate that they have the most muscle. As of this week, the lawsuits have been dropped and the two sides have agreed to resolve their differences amicably and out of court. Nobody is saying exactly what that means, but one has to assume that Disney is going to regain control of the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District. What caused DeSantis to decide he was no longer interested in fighting Disney wokeness? Could it possibly be that he's not running for president anymore, and that there's no further value in such political stunts? Mayyyyyybe...

Heading over to Kentucky, the Republican-controlled state legislature is clearly nervous that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) announcement that he will cede power once the current session of Congress comes to an end is prelude to his leaving the Senate prematurely (either through resignation or death). The current governor of the state is Democrat Andy Beshear. Should McConnell's seat come open, Beshear would pick a replacement from a list of three candidates selected by the Kentucky GOP.

Actually, that's what would have happened up until yesterday afternoon. The "three candidates" rule was put in place when Beshear was first elected, to stop him from back-dooring a Democrat into the Senate, should the opportunity arise. However, the legislature has now decided they don't want him to have ANY input at all, even if it's just to choose a Republican replacement. So, by a veto-proof majority, both chambers passed a bill that entirely removes the governor from the process.

Under the new law, which Beshear presumably won't sign, but WILL have rammed down his throat by a veto override, a replacement senator would be chosen by a special election. This would mean that the people of Kentucky would be underrepresented in the Senate for some period of time, likely several months. It would also mean that in a closely divided Senate, the position of the Republican Conference could be seriously weakened, up to and including losing the majority for a period of time. But hey, at least the centrist Democratic governor won't be involved in the process of picking a replacement who was preapproved by the state Republican Party.

And finally, over in South Carolina, politicians have once again won a victory when it comes to suppressing the rights of Black people—which is practically the official state sport. The current 5R, 1D map is an illegal racial gerrymander, per a ruling from a panel made up of three federal judges. However, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the decision, agreed to hear the case, and then... has not made any further progress.

We are not clear how the Supremes decide which questions require immediate attention, and which can be allowed to twist in the wind. One would think this would be a priority matter, since it affects the representation of literally hundreds of thousands of people. In any event, due to the lack of action, the very same three-judge panel said that the state would be allowed to use the illegal maps for another cycle, since there is no time remaining to wait for SCOTUS to take care of business.

The primary district in question is SC-01, currently represented by Nancy Mace (R). Given her various bits of obnoxious behavior, she could still be in danger, along the lines of a Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-CO) or a Madison Cawthorn. However, now that she doesn't have to worry about her district becoming much less white, Mace is probably safe. So, the members of the House will likely have the pleasure of her company for at least 2 more years. Undoubtedly, they are thrilled. (Z)

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