By Xander Norris
The South is a big, complicated place. The irregular happens regularly, and many of the nation’s most important debates and happenings seem to either start or end somewhere within our borders. That’s why every Saturday morning, the Overby Center is committed to bringing you a rundown of this week’s most prominent southern news stories, all in one easily-digestible place. So grab a cup of coffee, settle into your most comfortable chair, and prepare to get caught up on what’s currently happening… Around the South.
- Florida voters have given Republican Ron DeSantis a second term as the state’s governor. DeSantis overcame a challenge from Charlie Crist, a former Democratic congressman who, as a Republican, served as Florida governor more than a decade ago. DeSantis won with nearly a 20-point margin. And he did it by carrying Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties, longtime Democratic strongholds. The victory gives DeSantis a second term and a national platform as he eyes a potential run for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. He was first elected governor after receiving an endorsement from then-President Donald Trump.
- Republican Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp turned back a second electoral challenge from Democratic challenger Stacey Abrams, maintaining GOP control in the South’s most politically competitive state and dealing another defeat to the national Democratic star. Kemp argued in his victory speech that his campaign, which saw him use the power of his office to shower tax cuts and cash on voters while attacking Abrams for being insufficiently supportive of police, was a recipe for Republican success in Georgia. Democrats believed that an increasing share of nonwhite voters would put them on the path to victory in the state.
- Democratic Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican challenger Herschel Walker will meet in a Dec. 6 runoff in Georgia after neither reached the general election majority required under state law, ensuring an expensive, bitter fight that could still determine which party controls the Senate going forward. It will be the second runoff for Warnock, who first won his seat in a Jan. 5, 2021, special election runoff alongside Democrat Jon Ossoff’s victory in a concurrent Senate runoff. Together, the Georgia seats gave Democrats the narrow majority they are now defending.
- Texas Republicans maintained their nearly three-decade grip on state government on Tuesday, comfortably fending off a vigorous run to unseat Gov. Greg Abbott and dashing Democratic hopes that the state would turn purple. Voters returned GOP incumbents to their jobs at the top of the ticket and handed the state’s dominant party its 14th consecutive sweep of statewide offices. Republicans also seemed poised to add slightly to their majorities in the Texas Legislature, where they’ve controlled both chambers for 20 years and held large leads in all statewide judicial races.
- Texas’s marquee race was between Republican Gov. Greg Abbott and his Democratic challenger, former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke. The two candidates spent millions of dollars to define the race on their terms. Texas voters casted their ballots Tuesday with a wide variety of issues on their minds, including the state’s grid and the Uvalde shooting.
- Federal aid to Florida for recovery from Hurricane Ian has topped the $2 billion mark, Biden administration officials announced Monday, one day before the midterm elections. Most of the money was provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency. About $710 million went directly to households, and another $322 million went to the state.
- A Florida-bound storm strengthened into Hurricane Nicole on Wednesday evening as it pounded the Bahamas, and U.S. officials ordered evacuations that included former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club. It’s a rare November hurricane for storm-weary Florida, where only two such hurricanes have made landfall since record-keeping began in 1853 — the 1935 Yankee Hurricane and Hurricane Kate in 1985. Nicole’s center was about 75 miles (125 kilometers) east-northeast of West Palm Beach, Florida, late Wednesday, the Miami-based National Hurricane Center said. It had maximum sustained winds of 75 mph (120 kph) and was moving west-northwest at 13 mph (20 kph).
- Growing up in the Hudson River Valley, photographer Virginia Hanusik saw her home heroically reflected in famous paintings. Now living in New Orleans, she’s capturing the unsung beauty & nuanced narratives of a landscape almost always seen through the lens of climate change.
University of Kentucky student who reportedly attacked, used racist slurs against worker withdraws from school
- A University of Kentucky student charged after reportedly assaulting a Black student worker has withdrawn from the college, the student’s lawyer said Tuesday. According to records, Sophia Rosing, a senior at UK, was arrested after she physically assaulted and spouted racial slurs at a Black student desk clerk and police officer early Sunday. The incident took place at Boyd Residence Hall where Rosing, a white student, entered and began taunting, using racial slurs and making derogatory comments toward Kylah Spring, a Black student. After police arrived, Rosing continued using slurs, resisted arrest and bit a police officer, according to the arrest report. Videos of the incident went viral on social media.
- The 2022 CMA Awards were a mostly predictable affair with a few pleasant little surprises — and we’re so grateful for it. The dream of the Nineties (and some even more distant decades) was alive in Nashville on Wednesday, as the 56th edition of the Country Music Association’s awards looked pointedly to the past. That meant old songs, retro styles, and faces from country music’s bygone eras popping up at various intervals. Loretta Lynn died just one month ago, and her loss received its own special segment to open the show. Carrie Underwood, Reba McEntire, and Miranda Lambert — representing two generations of country stardom — honored Lynn’s work.