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


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

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

The 2020 Primary Elections: One Year Out -- Sunday Political Brunch March 3, 2019


CHARLESTON, W. Va. – I know the buzz of the week is about Michael Cohen’s testimony before Congress. It was dramatic stuff – and I’ll talk a little bit about it this week – but I don’t want to miss the “big picture.” It’s March 2019, and the 2020 campaign begins in earnest, in just ten short months. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“Cohen Comments” -- “He is a racist. He is a con man. And he is a cheat,” Michael Cohen said of President Trump. Cohen, who admitted he lied under oath to Congress to protect Trump, added, “I am not protecting Trump anymore.” Cohen laid out his case over hours of testimony, which was at sometimes combative. Cohen said that Trump lied to reporters about stolen Democratic emails, and instructed Cohen to lie about financial payments aimed at making sexual misconduct claims vanish. It was fascinating television, but will it lead anywhere? Stay tuned.

“I’m Prison Bound” – As powerful and dramatic and intriguing as Cohen’s testimony was before Congress, many view it through a skeptical lens. Cohen is a convicted felon, heading to federal prison for, among other things, lying to Congress. It’s the old, “If we couldn’t believe you then, why should we believe you now?” conundrum. Of course, in a former life the House was controlled by Republicans, and now Democrats are in charge. "Do you plan to pursue another book deal about your experiences?" asked Rep. Carol Miller (R) West Virginia. Cohen said, "Yes." Each party will try to leverage its perceived advantage.

“Watch the Economy” – Former Bill Clinton’s campaign strategist James Carville said it best when evaluating the most important issue in presidential politics. “It’s the economy, stupid!” Carville said as Clinton beat the recession that plagued President George H.W. Bush. This week the U.S. Commerce Department noted that economic growth had slowed to 2.6 percent in the final quarter of 2018. That compares to a second quarter report with growth above 4 percent. Folks, an economic slowdown one year before the primary season could be bad for President Trump, just as one doomed President Bush in 1992. Keep your eyes on this, more so than the investigations.

“Border Breakout” – Work continues on a border wall, or fence, or steel slats, or whatever it’s being called this week, but the important takeaway is that work continues. The House of Representatives has passed a resolution, attempting to rescind President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency at the border. Surprisingly, the Republican controlled Senate may have enough bipartisan votes to pass the resolution, too. President Trump promises a veto, which the House, but not the Senate, has the votes to override. The votes are largely symbolic, as Trump is certain to forge ahead.

“Kasich Competence” – No matter what happens to Trump, et. al., legally (which could take some time), the short-term focus is what happens to him politically. Former Gov. John Kasich (R) Ohio remains out there as Trump’s most serious potential primary challenger. Kasich is staid, and boring. His most criminal offense for all his years in public office, is eating a pizza in New York City with a knife and fork, instead of folding it. Social faux pas yes, political suicide, no. Kasich has one strong asset – political competence. In 20 years in Congress, he balanced the budget with Democratic President Bill Clinton. He steered Ohio through rough waters. Flashy, no; competent, yes. He may give Trump a primary run for his money.

“DEM Clown Car vs. GOP Circus” – On the other hand, one of Trump’s best strategic assets is the sheer number of Democrats already in the field, or thinking of announcing. There are already ten Democrats who have formally declared, with at least 17 other current or past elected Democrats expressing interest. On the GOP side, Trump’s only declared challenger is former Gov. Bill Weld (R) Massachusetts, but at least four others, including Kasich, have expressed an interest. Trump is not invincible, and he could very well have several serious challengers from within his own fractured party. Like Democrats, Republicans may be fighting for the soul of their party.

“The Road Ahead” – The calendar is in flux. Right now, we are looking at a February 3, 2020 Iowa Caucus, with a potential New York primary the very next day. The New Hampshire Primary would be Tuesday, February 11. Nevada Caucuses would be February 22. The traditional first Southern swing is in South Carolina on February 29. These initial primaries and caucuses generally weed a lot of candidates out of the field.

Who is your favorite Democrat or Republican for the presidential nomination in 2020? Just click the comment button on this article, or on the comment button at

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.

© Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo Courtesy: Getty Images

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