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“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- January 4, 2015


(Providence, Rhode Island) – I received a lot of feedback on my column from last week about the potential match-up between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Jeb Bush in the 2016 Presidential race. In fact, I wound up on KGO Radio AM-810 in San Francisco and on WPRO Radio AM-630 in Providence to talk more about it. It got me thinking about why we – the press and the public - seem to like legacy candidates. More of them are in the pipeline, too! Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“Bush Generation #4” – It didn’t make a lot of headlines this year, given all of the other big political news, but George P. Bush was elected Texas Land Commissioner in November. At 38, Bush is a lawyer and a Lt. j.g. in the U.S. Navy Reserve, including a stint in Afghanistan. His mom is Latina and he's fluent in Spanish. He is the son of former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL); the grandson of former President George H.W. Bush (pictured above, with Senator Ted Kennedy, D-MA); and the great-grandson of former Senator Prescott Bush (R-CT). His future looks promising.

“Kennedy Generation #4” – Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA) is unmistakable in a crowd. With bright red hair and the trademark Kennedy face and smile, he can't be missed. Just elected to his second term in the House where he succeeded long-time Congressman Barney Frank, Kennedy appears to have a bright future. “Hi, I’m Joe,” he said to me the first time we met, as if I didn’t know! At 34, he is a lawyer and former prosecutor. He is the son of former Rep. Joe Kennedy II (D-MA); the grandson of former Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-NY); and great-grandson of former U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Joseph Kennedy, Sr.

“Clinton, Too?” – While everyone is chattering about whether former First Lady Hillary Clinton will reoccupy the White House as President, keep an eye on daughter Chelsea, too. I know she just had a baby at age 34, so a political campaign is not imminent, but she may run for office some day. Aside from her parents, her husband Marc Mezvinsky is the son of former Rep. Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky (D-PA) and former Rep. Ed Mezvinsky (D-IA). Politics – as they say – appears to be “all in the family!”

“Bet on Biden” – Another next-generation politician to keep an eye on is Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden, son of Vice President Joe Biden. Elected to two-terms as Attorney General, Biden passed on running for the U.S. Senate seat once held by his father. The younger Biden also continued his military service in Iraq, as a member of the Army and Delaware National Guard. At 45, his future looks unlimited, and he has already announced he will run for Governor of Delaware in 2016.

“Another Magaziner” – Here in Rhode Island, another politician with a well-known name entered the landscape this year. Seth Magaziner, a Democrat, was elected the state’s General Treasurer. He is the son of former Clinton White House health care advisor, Ira Magaziner. At 31, the younger Magaziner is well connected. (He had both the Kennedys and the Clintons campaigning for him.) He’s likely a candidate for higher office down the road, so keep his name in your political Rolodex. (Does the Rolodex even exist anymore?)

“Another Graham” – At 51, Gwen Graham is not nearly as young as some of the people I’ve discussed, but she certainly has political lineage. She is now Rep. Gwen Graham (D-FL) and is the daughter of former Sen. Bob Graham (D-FL), who also served two terms as Florida Governor. Her late aunt and uncle were Katherine and Philip Graham, longtime owners of "The Washington Post." Gwen Graham was elected to her first term in Congress in November, but may have ambitions beyond the House of Representatives. Stay tuned!

“Two Pauls” – Former Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) made three runs for the White House and really captured the fancy of the more Libertarian wing of the GOP. His son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), is an oft-mentioned potential candidate for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2016. Both Pauls are medical doctors. At 51, Rand may have a few more chances at the White House, even if he chooses not to run next year.

“Nunn of the Above” – Michelle Nunn made a bold run this year for the U.S. Senate from Georgia, where her dad, Sen. Sam Nunn (D-GA), served for 25 years. She lost to businessman David Perdue, 53 percent to 45 percent, but she is seen as having a bright future in the Democratic Party in Georgia. At age 48, Nunn has plenty of opportunity to run for public office again.

“Why All of This Matters?” – We are sometimes a voting public that is contradictory. The United States was founded, in part, as an anti-royalty movement. We elect our leaders; we have no kings and queens. Yet, it has always puzzled me that we have so often elected multiple generations of the same families to public office, almost as if they were royalty. The Bushes and Kennedys come to mind in the modern era, but we also elected John Adams and his son, John Quincy Adams, our second and sixth Presidents. If nothing else, we like familiarity and institutional knowledge in our candidates. Sometimes we say, “Well, the dad was a good public official; maybe the son or daughter will be good, too!”

What are your thoughts? Have you ever voted for famous political relatives? Just click the comment button at

© 2015, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

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“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- December 28, 2014


(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

© 2014, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: ABC News

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