Mark Curtis's blog

The Presidential Primary Parade Marches On - Sunday Political Brunch March 17, 2019

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. – The parade of 2020 presidential candidates continues to draw more members. And news about the current president could certainly have an impact on what happens next year. I feel like I’m the only person not in the race! “Let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“Betting on Beto” – Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, (D-Texas) is the latest candidate to announce a White House bid. O’Rourke is an El Paso native who went on to an Ivy League education at Columbia University. A musician and businessman, O’Rourke served three terms in the House of Representatives, before losing a close Senate bid to Sen. Ted Cruz, (R-Texas) last November. He’s viewed by many as a national rising star in the Democratic Party. At 46, he is very popular among young voters.

“Border Emergency Vote” -- It’s ironic that on the day O’Rourke announced his candidacy, President Trump was handed a big defeat on the U.S. Senate on the very issue of border security which is front and center in O’Rourke’s old El Paso district. The Senate voted to disapprove of the president’s Declaration of National Emergency at the border on a vote of 59 to 41. All Democrats disapproved and were joined by 12 Republicans. President Trump promptly vetoed the bill, but as of now there is a not a two-thirds vote in Congress to overturn his veto. Wall construction – and the controversy – are likely to carry on.

“South Bend Mayor” – Democrats now have 16 candidates in the race and that list could grow. I’ve tried to profile everyone who jumps in, but I need to catch up. Among those officially declared is Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-South Bend, IN). He has an interesting pedigree. He’s a Harvard-educated Rhodes Scholar, who also served in the Navy in Afghanistan. Oh, and he’s also gay. At 37, he’s the youngest candidate in the race. Being a mayor is not a traditional platform for a presidential run, but in this day and age a lot of the old political rules are out.

“Dem Strategy” – I’ve said often that this 2020 race is a fight for the soul of the Democratic Party. You have a big group under 55 running, and a significant number 60-plus running. And you have ideological differences. A majority are running as progressive-liberals. That’s fine, but how does that attract the 30 to 40 percent of Americans who self-identify as moderate-independents. Also, candidates need to come up with unique and original ideas and platforms. Having eight different shades of vanilla is not a breakout strategy. The same applies to the party-elder candidates. People are looking for bold, new ideas, but they must be politically practical.

“WV Governor’s Race” – Don’t just keep an eye on the presidential race in 2020. We are going to have some real barn-burners for Senate and Governor’s races around the nation. The most volatile is already shaping up in West Virginia. Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV) is seeking reelection, but may be challenged by Sen. Joe Manchin, who previously was elected to two-terms as Governor. Manchin and Justice – once friends - are now bitter enemies. First, Justice switched parties after winning as a Democrat backed by Manchin. Then Justice fired Gayle Manchin, Joe’s wife, who he appointed as West Virginia Secretary of Education and the Arts. This could get bloody!

“Trump Bellwether” – What happens in West Virginia could help take the temperature of the rest of the nation as to what might happen to President Trump. His second-highest margin of victory in any state was West Virginia (close behind Wyoming). Trump and fellow billionaire Jim Justice are close, personal friends. It’s a “Billionaire’s Club” thing, I guess. But Trump also likes Manchin who has the most conservative voting record of any Democrat in the Senate. Trump worked hard for State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R-WV) who nearly upset Manchin’s third senate election. This race is on fire!

What are your thoughts on the latest political developments for President Trump? Just click the comments button on this story or at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is the Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia and the five surrounding states, and much of the Washington, D.C. media market.

© 2019, Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

More In and More Out in 2020 White House Race - Sunday Political Brunch March 10, 2019

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. – The presidential field grew bigger this week, but the pool of potential applicants also shrunk a bit. There are also some folks still on the sidelines saying, “Put me in, coach!” It’s a crowded field already. Let’s “brunch” on that this week!

“Hicken, What?” – Ever since he got in public life, former Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-CO) has had one of the most unusual, yet memorable, name in politics. Born in Pennsylvania, Hickenlooper worked in Colorado as an oil company geologist. When laid off, he launched a career in the craft brewing/brew pub industry to great success. He served two terms as Denver Mayor, before two terms as Colorado Governor. At 67 he’s one of the older, more experienced candidates in the race, that may be a fight for generational control of the party.

“They’re ‘In’ for Inslee” – Gov. Jay Inslee, (D-WA) is officially a candidate for president. Who, you say? Let’s explore. Inslee served 15 years in Congress, and four in his state’s House of Representatives. He’s in his second term as governor. All I can say is this is anyone’s race. Even a little-known candidate may spark the interest among a sector for voters. It’s about creating a niche. Remember, all things being equal in a 14-person race, a candidate could win the New Hampshire primary with just 7.2 percent of the vote. Dark horses have a real shot!

“Clinton: Out, or Maybe? – Former Sen. Hillary Clinton, (D-NY) said this week she will not be a candidate in 2020. She told News 12 in New York, “I’m not running. “But I’m going to keep on working and speaking and standing up for what I believe.” Even if she ran at age 71, she would not be the oldest person in this race. As I keep saying, if a person is mentally and physically fit into their 70s, then they can remain a viable candidate. Here’s my prediction: As of now 14 Democrats have declared. If the party can’t reach a consensus, it may look for a “favorite son” candidate to step in. If asked, I say she’d accept.

“Sure Bet on Sherrod? Not!” – Sen. Sherrod Brown, (D-OH) had thought about a presidential bid but opted out this week. Brown was just elected to his third term on the U.S. Senate. He also served 14 years in the U.S. House, eight as Ohio Secretary of State, and seven in the Ohio House of Representatives. I mention his long resume because Brown is from the swing state of Ohio, which has probably determined the winner of the presidency more than any other state. He’s a candidate with proven strength to carry Ohio. Keep him on your VP short list.

“All Signs Point to Biden Run” – For weeks, my gut says former VP Joe Biden is getting in. He’s a combative, street-fighter of a politician, who is very good on his feet. He’s a solid public speaker, but who’s been known at times for making humorous gaffes. Biden sometimes is his own worst enemy by saying too much. He needs to self-edit and learn that sometimes, “less in more.” But he’s bruising for a brawl with Trump, and may come across as the hungriest, most combative option in the Democratic field. If he gets in, I automatically put him at frontrunner status.

“My Prediction: As of March 2019,” – As I look at the race now, I see a real generational fight for the soul of the Democratic Party. It’s faced with nominating a candidate in his or her 40s and 50s who may be regionally known, versus an old party pro in his or her 70s who is nationally-known. Many of the younger candidates are running to build national name recognition, for more serious political races down the road. This is resume building time. Some of the older candidates are more moderate than the liberal youngsters. This will be a more centrist race, in my guess, based on one word: competence. Donald Trump will be 74 at reelection time. Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg, or Bernie Sanders are all in that age and experience range. I give the nod to a more seasoned Democrat, as of now.

Who would you like to the party's nominees for president in 2020? Just click the comments button here or send me a message by clicking comments at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia and its five surrounding states, including much of the Washington, D.C. media market.

© 2019, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

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