These United States

A wrap-up of news and worthy blog posts around the USA.

Senator Graham Angered Over Budget Cuts Affecting Charleston. Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina has vowed to bring the Senate to a standstill unless Congressional leaders agree to allocate $40,000 for a federal study on deepening the Port of Charleston. The funds were apparently cut in the budget deal averting a government shutdown. More from The Hill.

Tennessee Teacher Tenure Bill Signed into Law. Republican Governor Bill Haslam signed his teacher tenure bill into law Tuesday. The bill makes it harder for new teachers to win and keep tenure protections, lengthening the time it takes a teacher to qualify for tenure from three years to five. The story in the Chattanooga Free Press.

Say It Ain't So Joe. In Arizona, Maricopa County officials charged that the staff of controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio misspent $99.5 million in restricted jail funds over the last eight years. Budget officials said $84.7 million was misspent from the detention fund, while another $14.8 million in inmate-services funds were misspent. More from the Arizona Republic.

Barry Bonds Guilty of Obstruction. A jury in San Francisco today found former baseball player Barry Bonds guilty of obstruction of justice but deadlocked on three perjury counts. U.S. District Judge Susan Illston declared a mistrial on those counts and gave Federal prosecutors three weeks to decide whether the government would seek another trial. Bonds, the record holder for the most home runs in Major League history, faces up to two years in Federal prison. More from the San Francisco Chronicle.

"Right to Work" Legislation Vote Looms in New Hampshire Senate. A Senate committee yesterday in the Granite State recommended changing the law to prevent unions from charging nonmembers for a share of collective bargaining costs. The House passed right-to-work legislation in February. Gov. John Lynch, a Democrat, has said he would veto it. House lawmakers voted 221-131 for the bill, so supporters would have to pick up votes to overturn a veto. More from the Concord Monitor.

State Budget Talks in Florida Break Down. Budget talks in the Sunshine State between the House and Senate broke down over a series of differences. Both Republican-dominated chambers agree on the need to cut nearly $4 billion in spending without raising taxes. But details are proving elusive, especially the costs of higher-education cuts and new requirements over public-employee pensions. The full story in the Miami Herald.

In Iowa, Terry Bransted Vetoes the Budget. GOP Governor Terry Branstad on Tuesday made good on his promise to veto one-year state budget bills when he rejected a bill approved by Iowa lawmakers that had appropriated nearly $351 million for state transportation programs solely for the coming state budget year that begins July 1. The Des Moines Register provides the full details on the budget impasse in Iowa.

Tennessee Results

In an election marred by a computer glitch that prevented several thousand in the Volunteer State from voting, Tennesseans voted in a closely watched GOP gubernatorial primary to see who would earn the right to face Democratic nominee businessman Mike McWherter who was unopposed. Mike McWherter is also the son of former Gov. Ned McWherter

Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam easily won the Republican nomination for Governor Thursday, trouncing his more conservative GOP rivals the secession minded US Rep. Zach Wamp (TN-03), and the Islamophobe Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey from Blountville. Haslam took just over half the vote with Wamp garnering 27 percent and Ramsey 21 percent. The other Republican candidate, Basil Marceaux(.com) of Soddy-Daisy who became an Internet sensation with his bizarre rants about traffic light slavery and guns for everyone, received less than 1 percent of the vote.

Rep. Wamp had generated controversy last month when he seemed to suggest that Tennessee should consider secession in light of the Federal mandates contained in the Democrats' healthcare reform bill. "I hope that the American people will go to the ballot box in 2010 and 2012 so that states are not forced to consider separation from this government," he said. The eight-term congressman later backed away from those comments.

Ramsey, meanwhile, couldn't determine whether Islam was a religion, a nationality, a way of life or a cult before adding that he didn't believe that Islam deserves to be a Constitutionally protected religion. Ramsey also had the support from various Tea Party groups in the state.

Like other GOP primaries this electoral season, Republicans in Tennessee spent most of their time arguing over who the most conservative candidate was. In the end the 'moderate who lurched to the right' won. The race was an expensive one by Tennessee standards. Spending by the top three major Republican candidates hit $14.7 million by the end of July. Haslam, a businessman prior to his six years as Mayor of Knoxville, spent $8.8 million, including more than a million of his own money, more than twice the combined total of his two rivals.

One other wrinkle in this Tennessee election: this was the first election where early voting was allowed. More than 540,000 Tennesseans took advantage and had cast their ballots by August 2.

Phil Bredesen, the popular Democratic governor, is term limited and cannot seek a third term.

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