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The Calm Before the Next Political Storm - Sunday Political Brunch - February 3, 2019

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. – Do the math! Last Friday, President Trump signed a deal to re-open the partial government shutdown for three weeks. Well one week has come and gone, and now we have two weeks left for the warring sides to strike a deal. I’ve yet to speak to anyone who’s optimistic that will happen. Let’s “brunch” on that this week!

“Trump, Trumping Trump?” -- The President does not seem inclined to do a deal with Democrats unless there is funding for a border wall. “No. Because if there’s no wall, it doesn’t work,” President Trump told reporters Thursday when asked if he would accept border measures without wall funding, currently estimated at $5.7 billion dollars.

“Pelosi’s Stonewall” – She’s not just the House Speaker controlling the opposition party against the Trump agenda. She’s also the gatekeeper. According to the U.S. Constitution, all revenue bills must originate in the House. With her opposed to any funding for a border wall, that’s a pretty strong spot to be in. But – in the spirit of Super Bowl weekend – President Trump can call an “end run,” known as a National Emergency Declaration. More on that in a moment!

“The Schumer Stall” – One of the people caught in the crossfire is Senator Chuck Schumer, (D) New York, the Senate Minority Leader (and in the interests of full-disclosure, my former boss in 1992-93). He’s in a tough spot – play hardball with President Trump – but appease the interests of his own party. Some Democrats were upset that Schumer dug in his heels with Trump, in what led to the government shutdown in a fight between a border wall and citizenship for DACA children. “I’m disappointed with a conversation that suggests a false choice: You either fund the government or you take care of these … kids. We can do both,” Sen. Kamala Harris, (D) California told Politico.com.

“GOP Leaders Sidelined” – The dynamic of this whole standoff is fascinating. We hear often from President Trump, House Speaker Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Schumer. But what about Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R) Kentucky. “He’s said it publicly and privately: He thinks shutdowns don’t work. Nobody wins and that’s not what we worked so hard to get into the majority to do, to shut down the government. We got the majority to govern,” Sen. John Cornyn (R) said to Politico. “The president is the only one who has been reasonable in these negotiations. I’ve been in every single meeting, so I watched it. … [Democrats] didn’t want to negotiate,” said House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R) California. In many respects McConnell’s and McCarthy’s voices have been muted.

“State of the Union” – Now that the government has completely reopened, we are going to have a State of the Union Address on Tuesday night, February 5. This ought to be fascinating because this is clearly one of the most polarizing times in American political history. Will the President be conciliatory and extend an olive branch to Congress – especially Democrats – on some issues. Or will this be a night where he launches an in-your-face-attack on Democrats and Speaker Pelosi? (who will be sitting right behind him). Will she applaud him at any point, or just sit on her hands? It may be the most entertaining (or, uncomfortable) State of the Union in our history.

“National Emergency Declaration” – My latest prediction is that President Trump will not strike a deal with Congress, and will then declare a National State of Emergency at the Mexican border. Democrats will file an injunction in Federal District Court to stop him, and we can all hit the “taxi cab meter” for billable hours. Whether a court filing has merit is not always the objective. In this case Democrats may be trying to stall and delay and “run out the clock” with what they perceive as 23 months left in the Trump presidency.

“Implications for 2020” – Immigration is the number-one reason why Donald Trump was elected President. It was his signature issue. If nothing gets done Democrats may come across as obstructionists. It could help Trump’s reelection bid and hurt candidates trying to ride the Pelosi-Schumer coattails. On the other hand, he did have two years in which Republicans controlled the House and Senate, so why didn’t his majority succeed then? Both parties are fair game for criticism. The answer could be troubling for four potential or announced Democratic candidates for the White House in states with severe border issues. That means Senator Kamala Harris, (D) California, Governor Gavin Newsom (D) California, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke, (D) Texas and former HUD Secretary Julian Castro, (D) Texas could be vulnerable to criticism.

Who do you blame for the latest government shutdown, and the one that lies ahead? Democrats? Republicans? The President or "all-of-the-above?” Click the comments button here, or email me at Mark@MarkCurtisMedia.com.

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is a 42-year professional in radio, television, newspaper, and internet journalism all across America. He is presently the Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia and the five surrounding states, including most of the Washington, DC television market. He is a two-time Edward R. Murrow Award winner.

© 2019, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

Everyone’s Jumping in the Presidential Hot Tub - Sunday Political Brunch January 27, 2019

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. – We suddenly have several Democrats announcing bids for the White House in 2020, including a couple of folks I know. Others have merely formed “exploratory committees” meaning they are leaning towards a run. The field is crowded, and I bet will balloon to around 20 by the time Iowa and New Hampshire are ripe for visiting. Let’s “brunch” about those in so far and find out more about them.

“Lots of Gab About Gabbard” – 37-year-old Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D) Hawaii, is the youngest to jump in so far, but that’s probably not a big disadvantage. She’s been in Congress for six years, and before that served in the Honolulu City Council. She was born in in American Samoa, and yes, that makes her a native-born citizen. She practices the Hindu faith and served 16 years in the Army on active duty, and now in the Hawaii National Guard. Her dad is a long-time member of the Hawaii State Senate. While Hawaii does not offer a huge political or media launching pad, she has generated a lot of buzz and national press in Washington, DC. She’s not someone I had predicted would run for the White House, at least not yet.

“No, NOT that Castro!” – On the other hand, one person I did pick for a run at the White House was former San Antonio Mayor and U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Julian Castro. Like Gabbard, Castro is still very young at age 44. But he comes with lots of experience. Prior to being Mayor of San Antonio, he served on the City Council a number of years and has a dozen years in elected or appointed political office. He has degrees from Harvard and Stanford and his twin brother is Rep. Joaquin Castro, (D) Texas. There was speculation Joaquin might run for president, but it’s hard to imagine both. They are no relation to the political Castros of Cuba.

“California Kamala” – I got to know Kamala Harris when she served as District Attorney in San Francisco where I was a reporter for a decade. The 54-year-old lawyer rocketed from there to Attorney General of California, and then on to the U.S. Senate in 2016. Her name is often mispronounced: it’s KOM-uh-luh, not kuh-MAL-uh. She is mixed race, of Indian and Jamaican decent. Harris is close to Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) California, who is also considering a White House bid someday, but perhaps not 2020. Stay tuned.

“Richard Ojeda” – He’s not well-known nationally just yet, but former State Senator Richard Ojeda (D) West Virginia, is also a declared candidate. Ojeda, age 48, was in his first four-year Senate term, but resigned shortly after losing a West Virginia Congressional race. He’s a fierce, fiery, combative public speaker who President Trump called, “a wacko,” and “stone-cold crazy” during the Congressional campaign (even though Ojeda voted for Trump in 2016). Ojeda was out-front during the West Virginia teachers strike in 2018, and the efforts to legalize medical cannabis in the Mountain State. He’s very popular among the followers of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) Vermont. He’s a decorated, retired U.S. Army veteran. Editor's note: Late Friday January 25, Ojeda dropped out of the race.

“No Delaying Delaney” – Former Rep. Joe Delaney (D) Maryland, was the first Democrat to announce a presidential campaign, doing so in July 2017. Delaney served three terms in the U.S. House, after successfully launching two very successful business ventures. Educated at Columbia and Georgetown, the 55-year-old Delaney is a New Jersey native who represented the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. while in Congress.

“Warren Peace” – Certainly a favorite of a lot of progressive Democrats, is Senator Elizabeth Warren (D) Massachusetts. The 69-year-old native of Oklahoma is now serving her second term representing the Bay State. She also served a few years in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau following the financial and real estate market meltdowns of 2008. Like Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Warren is something of a pinata for conservatives who love to mention both names at rallies, which leads to a chorus of boos. Warren draws support from the “Bernie Sanders wing” of the party, so if he runs again, they may neutralize each other’s support.

“Kirsten’s NY Brand” – Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) New York has served a dozen years in Congress, ten in the Senate and two in the House. The 52-year-old did her undergraduate work at Dartmouth, with law degree from UCLA. She differs from many of her progressive counterparts, having identified as a conservative “Blue Dog Democrat,” especially on fiscal issues. Being from a state holding among the most Electoral College votes, she should be considered a serious contender.

So those are the first seven Democrats to declare candidacy or form an exploratory committee. Do you have a favorite? Click the comment button on my Patch.com article or message me at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2019 Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Mark Curtis Ed.D., is the Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia, five surrounding states, and much of the Washington, D.C. television market. He writes weekly for The White House Patch.

Photo Courtesy: Mark Curtis Media

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