(Providence, Rhode Island) – Well, 2014 is about to end, so it’s time to evaluate the winners and losers in the political arena this year, but it might not be what it seems at first blush. Some may have won in the short term; but be careful what you wish for. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:
“Midterm Elections” – Clearly – at least in the numerical sense – this was a huge win for the Republicans. They took control of the U.S. Senate and widened their majority in the U.S. House by 13 votes. They rule Congress for the next two years, but can they get anything meaningful done? In the short run, they are winners; but unless they pass key legislation in the next two years, they could wind up a bunch of empty suits (and promises). Stay tuned.
“Obama the Loser; Obama the Winner?” – The midterm defeat was certainly a big blow to President Obama and his Democratic Party. In fact, the Congressional roadmap doesn’t get any easier in 2016. As with most second-term Presidents with two years to go, look for lots of foreign trips and policy initiatives where the President has more leeway. Without a friendly Congress, might we see a more rogue President? Certainly we could see more Executive Orders like the one on immigration, as unpopular as that might be in many quarters. Both Presidents Reagan and Clinton were able to win public sympathy and support going over the heads of a stubborn opposing party in Congress. Can Obama do the same? We’ll see!
“Hillary Clinton” – Talk about flying under the radar in 2014. Perhaps the biggest headline Hillary made was becoming a grandma. Yes, I know she wrote a book, “Hard Choices,” and went on tour; but it generated few headlines. In a way, that’s good news for the former First Lady-turned-Senator-turned- Secretary of State. The Clintons are lightning rods for controversy, but her low-key demeanor kept the smoldering embers of Benghazi out of the headlines. You know her opponents will use that issue against her in 2016, but by then many in the public may deem it “old news.”
“Florida Matters” – The state with the most political clout in the nation now is Florida. In the last five Presidential campaigns, the candidate who won Florida won the White House. That will likely be true again in 2016. California and New York were always the big Electoral College mules for the Democrats, while Texas and Florida were for the Republicans. But Florida is truly a swing state, and Hispanic voters there are much more evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. This is one reason why you see two well-known Floridians, Senator Marco Rubio and former Governor Jeb Bush, both eyeing Presidential bids. The GOP knows either one of these men can carry the Sunshine State, but other potential GOP candidates may not....
“Bipartisanship” – Perhaps the biggest loss in this last election cycle was to the willingness of either party to work across the aisle (photo above). If anyone can name a serious issue or policy initiative where the two sides earnestly worked together, then send it to me in an email. Until then, I am just scratching my head.
“Old School – No School” – It was not a good year for political comebacks. Two of the nation’s most colorful politicians – both of whom had served time in prison – failed in their comeback bids. Former Governor Edwin Edwards (D-LA), age 87, lost his Congressional race; and former Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci, age 73, lost his race for a third stint as Mayor. At this point, their political careers are likely over; but my political instinct says, “Never say never!”
“The Rising Stars” – For every pol who fades – like the two I just mentioned – there are also rising stars to keep an eye on. Of note this year were a couple of winners. Republican Joni Ernst won the U.S. Senate race in Iowa. At age 44, she is an up and comer in the world of politics and is the first female U.S. Military veteran to serve in the U.S. Senate. The Democrat to watch is California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. At 47, Newsom is about to begin his second term, having previously served as Mayor of San Francisco for seven years. After some tumultuous problems in his personal life, he has married again and has three young children. He has grown up in politics and is poised to succeed Jerry Brown as Governor, or Dianne Feinstein or Barbara Boxer in the Senate. If he wins either job, he’s a potential White House contender down the road.
Who are your political “winners” and “losers” for 2014? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.
© 2014, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.
Photo courtesy: ABC News