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Thinning the 2020 Political Herd, the Final Frontier - Sunday Political Brunch May 19, 2019

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PROVIDENCE, RI – We’re on the road again this week in my old New England stomping grounds! As promised we are providing our third straight week of “thumbnail” sketches of the 24 Democratic presidential candidates. Let’s “brunch” on that this week!

“Steve Bullock” – Gov. Steve Bullock (D) Montana, is in his second term, having previously served as state Attorney General for one term. He’s 53 and is a Columbia University Law School graduate. He is rated as the most popular Democratic Governor in the nation, and the fourth overall following three Republicans who have higher approval ratings.

“Jay Inslee” – Gov. Jay Inslee (D) Washington, is also in his second term after previously serving 15 years in Congress. Inslee is 68, and is a lawyer by trade, including years as a criminal prosecutor. Inslee made national headlines when he sued the Trump administration after it issued a 90-day travel ban from several majority Muslim countries. Inslee’s side prevailed in court.

“Amy Klobuchar” – Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D) Minnesota is now in her third term. Before going to Washington, D.C. she served as Hennepin County Prosecutor for eight years and was also a corporate lawyer. A Yale graduate, she wrote her senior thesis on the politics behind construction of the Hubert Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis. The wheeling and dealing to build a sports stadium includes a lot of tension, intrigue and high political drama. It’s a pretty “outside the box” topic for a Yale student, and I’m tempted to take a peek!

“Wayne Messam” – Mayor Wayne Messam, (D) Miramar, Florida, is former star football player at Florida State University who played one season with the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals. Messam is 44 and African American. He is a general contractor by trade and was elected mayor of this city west of Miami in 2015. Before that he served on the Miramar City Council.

“Seth Moulton” – Rep. Seth Moulton is a three-term Congressman from Massachusetts. He has multiple degrees from Harvard and was also an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, with four tours of duty in Iraq spanning five years. He’s 40 and has worked a lot in TV and radio, so he has good communication skills which is a big asset in politics.

“Beto O’Rourke – Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) Texas, served three terms in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1918 he gave up a safe seat and nearly toppled Sen. Ted Cruz (R) Texas. At 46 he probably has a long political career ahead of him. Here’s a bit of trivia: can a House member run for the Senate in a nationally-watched race and lose, only to be elected president down the road? It’s been done before, just ask Abraham Lincoln.

“Tim Ryan” -- Rep. Tim Ryan (D) Ohio, may only be 45 years old, but he has already served 16 years in Congress. He even challenged Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D) California, in the race for Speaker of the House. He also served in the Ohio State Senate and was an aide to colorful former Rep. James Traficant (D) Ohio, and succeeded him in Congress. Ryan is a real up-and-comer, from a state Democrats must win to take back the White House. Keep an eye on him for several election cycles to come.

“Eric Swalwell” – Rep. Eric Swalwell (D) California, is currently serving his third term in Congress. At 38, he is one of the youngest candidates in a race where he may simply be building national name recognition for a more serious challenge down the road. While he’s viewed as a long-shot, he did take out a 40+ year incumbent in former Rep. Pete Stark (D) California, so Swalwell should not be underestimated by any means.

“Marianne Williamson” – A best selling author, Marianne Williamson has never held public office. She did run for Congress in 2014 but was defeated. She is a nationally-known advocate for AIDS patients and runs a non-profit food delivery service for those in need. She may be one of the least known candidates, but in a crowded field of 24 candidates now, it’s theoretically possible in a tight race, a person could win with just 4.2 percent of the vote. That makes lower-tier candidates more viable if their issues catch on.

“Bill de Blasio” – Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) New York City, has served in that capacity since 2014. Prior to that he was the NYC Public Advocate. He also served on the City Council for seven years. At 58, he has national name recognition as mayor of the nation’s largest city. He’s an old political hand who once served as Hilary Clinton’s campaign manager.

“Why All of This Matters” – As mentioned a packed field means anyone can win in a tight race. And for those who say the field is too crowded for the party to win in November, you need look no further than Republicans in 2016.There were 17 Republicans candidates in 2016, and only six Democrats. A packed field did not doom the GOP.
Are you already backing a candidate for president in 2020? If so, who and why? Just click the comment button to weigh in.

© 2019, Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia and the five surrounding states, plus a large portion of the Washington, D.C. media market. He’s a national contributing writer at www.Patch.com with a weekly column in The White House Patch.

Photo courtesy: Getty Images.

Thinning the 2020 Presidential Herd, the Sequel -- Sunday Political Brunch May 12, 2019

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. – Last week we gave you snapshots of seven of the 21 Democratic candidates for president in 2020. People liked it, and I promised more. So, let’s “meet and greet” another seven. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“Bettin’ on Bennet?” – The most recent entrant in the race is Senator Michael Bennet (D) Colorado. Who? Well, before we have another “birther” debate, Bennet was born in New Delhi, India, where his American diplomat father was serving in the U.S. Embassy. So, yes, he’s a native born American. He’s been a school superintendent, an aide to a big city mayor, and worked in the U.S. Justice Department. That plus ten years in the U.S. Senate, and at the relatively young age of 54, Bennet may be viable for several more presidential cycles.

“Bookin’ with Booker!” – I remember covering and meeting Senator Cory Booker (D) New Jersey, at the 2012 Democratic National Convention when he spoke to the Iowa delegation. You got the idea he was warming up to Iowans for a reason. At the time, Booker was Mayor of Newark. He’s also a Stanford-educated Rhodes Scholar, who got his law degree at Yale. He’s 50 and has a promising future. If he doesn’t win the nomination, look for him as a potential pick for vice-president.

“Casting a Castro Vote?” – Former HUD Secretary and Mayor of San Antonio, Julian Castro (D) Texas remains someone to keep an eye on for the next several presidential cycles. He’s just 44, so he’ll be viable for some time. The oddity is that his twin brother is Rep. Joaquin Castro (D) Texas, a six-year congressman who also served a good stretch in the Texas Legislature. His brother is not running for president (yet), but my question is, does one Castro brother pull votes from the other? This will be interesting to watch as I suspect these two will be on the political landscape for quite some time. We’ve never seen this kind of “twin trouble” in U.S. politics.

“Delayin’ for Delaney?” – Former Rep. John Delaney (D) Maryland was the first Democrat to announce a presidential bid for 2020. He served six year in Congress, but I’m not so sure being first in line for the presidency really matters now that 20 people have lined up behind him. But Delaney has a more interesting story in the business world, compared to the political world. He co-founded two very successful companies, Health Care Financial Partners and CapitalSource. Delaney made a lot of money as a savvy businessman and was the only CEO of a publicly traded company while serving in Congress. He has financial chops. Keep an eye out for him.

“From the North Country (Way North!!) – He’s a life-long hell-raiser and at 88 years young former Senator Mike Gravel (D) Alaska may be the most colorful candidate in the race. Yes, he’s a longshot, but he could stir the pot on a debate stage if most of the other 20 candidates are dull and vanilla. A fierce anti-Vietnam War crusader, Gravel made headlines trying to end the military draft, and assisted in the controversial release of the Pentagon Papers. Many will view him as a “troublemaking 60s has-been,” but he could be provocative and a wild-card in the debates, where so many candidates are running far-left where he has authentic credentials. The entertainment factor alone could be worth the price of admission.

“Hiccups for Hickenlooper!” – I know he’s polling in the weeds, but I would keep an eye on former Governor John Hickenlooper (D) Colorado, who also served two terms as Mayor of Denver. Is this the year of the mayor? I ask because Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D) South Bend has been polling well in presidential match ups. Mayors are politicians who are closest to the people. They are often hands-on problem-solvers, whereas governors, senators and representatives are more distant. Former New York City Mayors Rudi Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg have polled well over the years. I just wonder if city halls are the new political launch pad. Watch!

“Jammin’ for Gillibrand!” – I’ve written about Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in this column before. I think she’s impressive. But Democrats are sure to win New York and its 29 Electoral College votes, so where does she help her party beyond the Empire State. My gut says female candidates have an advantage in 2020, but they need chops beyond gender identification. She’s not polled well nationally, but I see her as a contender as we get closer to Iowa and New Hampshire.

“Why All of This Matters?” – Right now, polls show Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders polling in the 30-plus percent range, with everyone way back in the back. But consider this: with 21 candidates, someone could win the Iowa Caucuses with as little as 4.8 percent of the vote, if everyone is bunched up in the pack. This is about creating a niche voting base, and then expanding it. With this many people in the race, anyone can win if their message and platform catch fire!

If you voted today, who would you pick for president in 2020? Click the comment button!

Mark Curtis, Ed. D, is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia, its five surrounding states, and most of the Washington, D.C. media market. He’s a weekly contributing writer for the White House Patch at www.Patch.com.

© 2019, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

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