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“The Sunday Political Brunch” – September 6, 2015


(Providence, Rhode Island) – It’s Labor Day weekend, so nothing too heavy this Sunday. While everyone loves the extra day off, the labor movement in this country is highly political. Let’s brunch on that and some Labor Day trivia this week:

“The Beginnings” -- U.S. President Grover Cleveland (photo above) is not remembered for much, but in 1894 he signed the legislation that designated the first Monday of September as Labor Day. The observance had been advocated by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, which created a parade to honor laborers, hoping it would become a national day of rest.

“Shaking Hands and Kissing Babies” – It didn’t take long for the holiday to become a big political event. Labor Day was the symbolic end of summer, but it quickly became a popular day to campaign ahead of the fall elections. Many states have September primary elections, and - even for those which don’t - the proximity of Labor Day to November meant it was a great time for politicians to deliver big stump speeches in town squares and to shake a lot of hands. This was true especially before the age of television and the Internet.

“This Year” – Democratic candidates Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and former Governor Lincoln Chafee (D-RI)will be at events in New Hampshire, while fellow Democrats Hillary Clinton and former Governor Martin O’Malley (D-MD) will stump in Iowa. Among Republicans, Governor Scott Walker (R-WI), Governor John Kasich (R-OH), former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) will also be in New Hampshire.

“Where’s the Donald?” I’m not sure where Republican frontrunner Donald Trump plans to be on Labor Day, but the anti-Trump forces will be out. On September 7, protesters who disagree with Trump’s immigration stance will protest in Dallas. All of this is ahead of Trump’s scheduled visit to the Lone Star State on the Monday following Labor Day.

“Does It Still Matter Politically?” – Well, yes and no. Even after the advent of television, Labor Day remained a big political rallying day. Since it was typically a slow news day, TV cameras would gravitate to political events or parades featuring politicians. They were easy targets, and candidates liked the limelight. But now, with 24/7 access to social media and internet coverage, many candidates are focused on that, rather than on "retail" politics. The 2016 Presidential campaign really started several months ago, so Labor Day has lost its importance as a kick-off date. However, it will still have a lot of political flavor this year.

“A Turning Point” – While political junkies like me watch the campaigning all year long, many people don’t pay attention until after Labor Day, as the election draws near. That might explain why polls often shift dramatically after the September holiday. For example, in 1980, President Jimmy Carter was well ahead of former Governor Ronald Reagan (R-CA), but lost in a November landslide. In 2012, Senator John McCain (R-AZ) had a six-point lead over Senator Barack Obama (D-IL), but McCain’s fortunes turned sour, and he lost in November.

“You Got the Day Off?” – Labor Day – or a holiday to honor workers – is held in many countries. Canada holds it the very same day as the United States. Many European countries celebrate their workers on May Day, or May 1.

“Who’s to Thank?” – While President Cleveland actually signed Labor Day into law, a man named Peter McGuire – who was an Irish worker in New York – pushed for a holiday for those who labored year round. He helped spearhead the first parades, and the popularity of the idea spread across the nation. Thirty-three states had already approved Labor Day before it became federal law.

My favorite part of Labor Day is the afternoon cookout. What’s yours? Just drop us a note by clicking the comment button at

© Mark Curtis Media, LLC

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“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- August 30, 2015


(Atlantic City, New Jersey) – The “Brunch” is on a road trip in New Jersey this weekend. For a long time, the Garden State has looked as if it would be a real player in the 2016 Presidential campaign, with Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) as a candidate; but, all of a sudden, the whole campaign dynamic has changed. Let’s brunch on that this week.

“Trumping Christie” – Chris Christie made a name for himself by being combative. He’d gladly take on the press or some ill-informed voter at a town hall meeting. He could be brusque and downright mean, but people loved his feistiness. People love to see reporters whacked like piñatas now and then, and Christie obliged. But suddenly Donald Trump has stolen Christie’s press-bashing franchise and has co-opted the whole shtick.

“The Hug Heard Round the World!” – In October, 2012, with just weeks to go before the election, New Jersey and other East Coast states were slammed by Hurricane Sandy. Christie flew on Marine One with President Obama to survey the damage. The brash Governor was even photographed hugging the President, who was widely unpopular with those on the right of the political spectrum. Yes, Christie’s thanks were sincere; but was the hug a mistake for which some people never forgave him? Christie was reelected a year later, but nationally the damage may have been done.

“Bridgegate” – In September, 2013 – just two months before his reelection vote – some lanes approaching the George Washington Bridge into New York were closed for what one aide claimed was a traffic study. The traffic gridlock nightmare which ensued was dubbed “Bridgegate.” Three of Christie’s former aides were charged in the incident, with two others awaiting trial and another pleading guilty. The whole mess was supposedly in retaliation against the mayor of Fort Lee, who did not endorse Christie for reelection. While the Governor claimed he had no part in the scandal and did not order the lane closures, the indictments of three close former aides hurt him. Yes, he won reelection at home; but nationally his image was tarnished.

“Poll Plummet” – The mantra I always give my students is: “Politics is as much about math, as it is about ideology.” The bottom line is that you can have the greatest political idea in the world (the ideology); but if you don’t have enough votes to support you (the math), then you aren’t going to win. Trump has stolen Christie’s “anger ideology;” and the poll results - i.e. "the math" - don't add up in his favor. The latest Quinnipiac University Poll in Pennsylvania – Christie’s neighboring state – has Trump the preferred Republican candidate with 24 percent of the vote, to just 2 percent for Christie.

“But Can Anyone in the GOP Win NJ?” – In the past six Presidential elections, New Jersey went for the Democratic nominee each time. In the six elections prior to that – from 1968 to 1988 – New Jersey went Republican, but to many that’s ancient history. In 2016, Hillary Clinton of New York – if she is the Democratic nominee – may have a strong pull in New Jersey. Governor Christie, who has won twice statewide, may have been the GOP’s only hope to win the Garden State. Yes, Donald Trump is a New Yorker, like Clinton, but some of his failed local business dealings may hurt him in his own backyard.

“Cheering the Wrong Team?” – I always say the worst political wounds are usually self-inflicted. Last year Christie was in a skybox with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, openly cheering for the Cowboys. The Cowboys are the arch rivals of division-mates Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants, two of the three NFL teams with a huge New Jersey fan base. Locals were angry that Christie backed the Cowboys; and weeks later he was in Green Bay, cheering on the Cowboys against “America’s Team,” the Packers. Yes, I know sports and politics should not mix; but they do; and Christie angered many in Wisconsin, a state he probably could have won.

“Is He Toast?” – Look, it’s early. Remember that in 2012 the GOP frontrunner changed many times. The lead went from Michele Bachman, to Newt Gingrich, to Herman Cain, to Rick Santorum, to Ron Paul, and ultimately to Mitt Romney. In 2016 – despite Trump’s early and commanding lead – the same thing could happen. It’s still a long way to Iowa and New Hampshire.

“Christie’s Future?” – Assuming he won’t be the nominee, Christie should certainly be under consideration for Attorney General. He built a reputation as a tough prosecutor while serving as U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey from 2002 through 2008. He also has a shot at the U.S. Senate seat now occupied by Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ). Christie is termed-out as Governor; and Menendez, who will be up for reelection in 2018, is under a federal corruption indictment. Christie would be a formidable opponent. Bottom line: Chris Christie is only 52 and will be viable for many Presidential and Senate election cycles to come. He’s a fighter, so don’t count him out!

What are your thoughts about Governor Chris Christie? Opinions about him usually run very hot or very cold! Let us know your feelings by clicking the comment button at

© 2015 Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo courtesy: Mark Curtis

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