Mark Curtis's blog

“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- January 25, 2015


(Corning, New York) – We are on the road this week in the Empire State. New York always plays a large role in any Presidential campaign, simply by the sheer number of Electoral College votes it holds. But in 2016 New York may have an even bigger voice. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“By the Numbers” -- Right now New York has 29 Electoral College votes, tied with Florida for the third largest take. New York lost two Congressional seats in the 2010 census, while Florida gained two seats, again, leaving them tied at 29. New York almost always votes for the Democratic nominee, but that’s not guaranteed in 2016.

“Primary Colors” – Here’s an interesting twist. The tentative date for the New York Primary is now February 2, 2016. That would make New Yorkers the third batch to vote after the traditional Iowa Caucuses and New Hampshire Primary. (Right now Colorado, Minnesota and Utah, are planning votes the same day as New York, but that could change). My point is, New York is very high up in the pecking order, more so than ever before. Why? Is it to give Hillary Clinton a strategic advantage, or is it to give another New Yorker like Gov. Andrew Cuomo an inside edge, should Secretary Clinton falter?
If the date and position hold, New York could be huge for both parties.

“The Favorite Son (I Mean Daughter)” – Right out of the box, Hillary Clinton has the home state advantage. Yes, I know she grew up in Illinois, and spent her significant adult years in Arkansas, before moving to DC as First Lady. But running for U.S. Senate from New York in 2000, firmly put her in the Empire State. Unless she has a health issue, or makes a huge political gaffe, she is the frontrunner for the 2016 Democratic nomination, and all the karma in her “new” home state aligns, or does it?

“Chris Christie’s Neighborhood” – He may be unpopular at home these days for backing the Dallas Cowboys over hometown teams such as the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles, but Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) still remains a threat in his neighboring state. Again, keep in mind that while New York is generally a “blue” state, a populist, moderate Republicans can win here. It’s not always easy, but there is a lot of precedent for it from Teddy Roosevelt, to Nelson Rockefeller, and George H.W. Bush (nationally), to Rudy Giuliani (locally) and George Pataki (statewide).

“The Other Cuomo” – Hillary Clinton is not the only one with a famous name in the hunt here. Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) is waiting in the wings, should she stumble. Make no mistake, the Cuomos and Clintons have been allies over the years, for the most part. But remember, Clinton was the clear frontrunner when 2008 began, and lost a titan primary battle to then-Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL). If Clinton should fade, Cuomo could quickly jump in as a New York “favorite son” candidate. Early in the process, that could give him momentum.

“The Pataki Factor” – Some may consider him a “dark horse” candidate, but I think that would be a mistake. Former Gov. George Pataki (R-NY), has said he is exploring a run for the White House. Pataki served 25 years in public office, from Mayor Peekskill, to the New York House and Senate, and then Governor for 12 years. That’s a remarkable GOP resume in a solidly “blue” state. The biggest factor is that he can carry New York statewide, as he did in three bids for Governor. He helped the nation through 9-11, and people don’t forget that. He could be a huge spoiler, to both parties. (Photo of Govs. Pataki and Cuomo above).

“Kristen, Who?” – Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) is a long-shot at this point, but worth keeping on your “watch list!” The state’s junior Senator has been greatly overshadowed by former Senator Clinton, Gov. Cuomo, and the state’s senior Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY). But there is huge pressure inside the Democratic Party to nominate a woman. Again, if Hillary Clinton runs into trouble, Gillibrand and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are people being looked at as female alternatives. Gillibrand also becomes a viable Vice Presidential competitor if the Presidential nomination goes to former Gov. Martin O’Malley (D-MD). Bottom line, being a New Yorker ups her political capital.

“All Bets are Off!” – The day after I complied most of the information for this column, Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-NY) of the state Assembly, was arrested and charged in a four-million dollar federal bribery and corruption scandal. How does that affect anyone from New York, I’ve listed here? None of them may have anything to do with this particular scandal, but the whole mess is another reason why the public at-large finds politics so distasteful. Silver, for example, is close to Gov. Cuomo and that could shake some people’s opinion of their Governor as a Presidential candidate, again, even if he had nothing to do with it. If nothing else, it’s a big black eye for New York politics.

“Why All of the Matters” – Look, a lot of political analysts are already saying the 2016 Presidential election is a done deal. It’s Hillary Clinton with a lock on the Democratic nomination, and then on to the White House. I don’t think it’s that easy or simple. A lot of other viable people want that job, and there are a lot of potholes to drive through on the way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Suddenly – and strategically – New York is an early hurdle that all candidates must cross. This could get very interesting!

What are your thoughts? Is the country in a “New York State of Mind?” Click the comment button at and let me know your opinions!

© 2015, MarkCurtisMedia, LLC

Photo Courtesy: Office of the Governor, State of New York

“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- January 18, 2015


(Providence, Rhode Island) – As we celebrate the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., holiday this weekend, I thought we should profile some of the up-and-coming African-American leaders in our nation. Many of the older leaders - such as Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), Rev. Jesse Jackson, and Rev. Al Sharpton - are getting up in the years. President Obama is "termed out," and many are looking toward a new generation. These emerging leaders aren’t all in politics, but in business and media, too! Let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“Tim Scott” – U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC) is part of a small but growing group of African-American conservatives taking office around the country. After growing up in poverty, Scott, age 49, has already spent 20 years in elective office at the local, state and national levels from South Carolina. As a sitting member of the U.S. House, he was appointed to a vacant U.S. Senate seat, and was then elected to the job in his own right. He is the first black Member of Congress from South Carolina since 1897.

“Cory Booker” – The only other African American in the U.S. Senate is Cory Booker (D-NJ). Sen. Booker had been the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, for seven years, when he won a special election to fill the Senate seat left vacant by the death of Sen. Frank Lautenberg. Booker’s parents were IBM executives; and he graduated from Stanford, was a Rhodes Scholar, and earned a law degree from Yale. At 45, he is considered a rising star in the national Democratic Party.

“Mia Love” – Rep. Mia Love (R-UT) is a Tea Party conservative in her first term in Congress. She previously served as Mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah, and prior to that served on the City Council. She is the first black Republican woman to hold a seat in Congress and the first Haitian American to serve, as well. She barely lost the Congressional race in 2012, and came back two years later to win the seat. A stirring speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention, in which she criticized President Obama, put her in the national spotlight.

“Anthony Foxx” – Foxx is currently U.S. Secretary of Transportation, after serving two terms as Mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina. Prior to that, he served two terms on the City Council. He’s just 43, a New York-University-trained lawyer, and is mentioned prominently as a potential candidate for Governor of North Carolina or U.S. Senator. Beyond that, could there be a national candidacy some day? Keep him on the watch list!

“Kamala Harris” – The two-term Attorney General of California is also the former District Attorney of San Francisco. She is one of a growing number of mixed-racial candidates for office who draw from many constituencies. Harris is of Asian and black ancestry. Her father was from Jamaica; and her mother, from India. Perhaps her biggest political strength is that she has proven twice that she can win statewide in California, which is not an easy task. She is often mentioned as a potential successor to U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), who will not run again in 2016.

“Greg Moore” – African-Americans have done well in the media business over the years. One of the most experienced and influential black journalists in the country is Greg Moore, editor of "The Denver Post." He also served in similar roles at "The Boston Globe" and "Cleveland Plain Dealer." While in Boston, he was in charge of his paper’s coverage of the September 11th terrorist attacks, a significant role, since two of the hijacked jets took off from Logan Airport.

“Harris Faulkner” – The Fox News anchor and host is one of the most prominent female African-American journalists in the country. The daughter of a U.S. Army pilot, Faulkner’s frequent moves probably prepared her for a transient life in television. She held reporter and anchor positions in Greenville, North Carolina, in Kansas City, and in Minneapolis before landing at Fox. (Full disclosure: Her husband Tony is a friend and former co-worker of mine in Washington, DC). Faulkner is also an author and has been at Fox ten years.

“Daymond John” – You know him now as one of the would-be investors on the hit ABC-TV show “Shark Tank,” but Daymond John’s rise to billions is an inspiring rags-to-riches story. Basically, he and some friends started designing and making wool hats, when they thought a popular brand was way over-priced. They made their own hats and sold them outside of a stadium for half the competitor’s price. That’s how the FUBU fashion brand was launched. Twenty-three years later, the sales are in the billions; and John continues to work with and to inspire young entrepreneurs, many in African-American communities.

“Why All of This Matters” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., famously longed for a day in the future saying: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character. I have a dream today!” The emergence of new generations of leaders - and people of accomplishment in so many different fields - is an indication that his dream continues to come true for many.

What are your thoughts? Name some African-American leaders I may have missed by clicking on the comment button at

© 2015, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy:

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