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Political Campaign Leftovers

Leftover turkey.jpg

(Garden Grove, California)

This morning your refrigerator is likely loaded with Thanksgiving leftovers - some good, some not so good! Well, we have another kind of leftovers to talk about - the kind we have after almost every November Election Day: Undecided political races.

Of course, the most prominent is the race for the U.S. Senate in Minnesota. This was the nation’s marquee race to begin with, as it starred “Saturday Night Live” comedian Al Franken running as a Democrat. His race was no joke, though. Franken led Republican incumbent Norm Coleman throughout most of the pre-election polling. At last count, Coleman was beating Franken by just 215 with 80 percent of the statewide recount over. However, Franken is challenging some disputed absentee ballots that were disqualified by poll workers, so this race could head to court, a la Florida 2000.

Another close race to watch is for the House of Representatives, District 4, in California. Republican Tom McClintock leads Democrat Charlie Brown by only 1,283 votes. (Republican incumbent John Doolittle had chosen not to run again.) This was a fascinating race, as McClintock, who lives near Los Angeles, was running for a seat north of Sacramento.

In Ohio’s 15th District, incumbent Republican Deb Pryce chose not to run again. Her potential Republican successor, Steve Stivers, is currently ahead of Democrat Mary Joe Kilroy by just 146 votes, the closest House race in the nation.

Those are the closest races involving possible recounts.

There are three other Congressional races left. A U.S. Senate seat from Georgia will be decided in a December 2 runoff election; and two House seats in Louisiana will be decided in a December 6 runoff.

So, just like Thanksgiving, the political season is rarely over on the day of the feast. There are lots of leftovers to gobble up!

Keep coming back for the very latest in politics at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

Giving Thanks for Life This Thanksgiving

Kyleigh Fifield.jpeg

(Garden Grove, California)

I continue working in Southern California this week. Like just about everyone else, I am looking for ways to give thanks this year. It’s been a trying and difficult year of unemployment, illness, high hopes, low results, thrilling campaigns, exciting news, disappointing outcomes, but optimism - always optimism! I’m here, maybe a bit worse for wear, but - thank God - I’m still here.

Which brings me to that young lady at the top of this blog. Her name is Kyleigh Maura Fifield, and she’s just two days old. Her dad Paul is a good friend of mine and the man to whom I owe much of my success in 2008.

You see, Kyleigh’s dad didn’t just help conceive her this year; he also conceived this blog. I barely knew him, but we were thrown together to cover the Iowa Caucuses in early January. We clicked like Huntley-Brinkley, Rowan and Martin, and maybe even a little Abbot and Costello. It was at times a brilliant, hardworking and even funny collaboration. (The Secret Service threatened to arrest us at a Hillary Clinton rally in Iowa, just because we wanted to videotape her and Bill in a garage).

At one in the morning on January 3, after a grueling eighteen-hour day at the Iowa Caucuses, with a wake-up call in just five hours, I said, “Hey Come by my hotel room and have a glass a wine for a nightcap!” To my horror, Paul said, “OK, we can build you a blog at the same time!”

I had no idea what he was talking about. A BLOG???? What on earth was THAT?

A bottle of wine and two hours later, I was a “blogger!” I've never looked back. Paul taught me how to upload stories, pictures and videos. I learned how to link all my material through Facebook and You Tube. I was the new baby of “new media.”

Mind you, I had heard all of this “new media” talk, but I dismissed most of it as hot air on the internet. Eleven months later I am a devotee and a convert, and will never look back. The nation’s media landscape took a beating this year. Major TV companies are trading for less than a dollar a share on Wall Street. Major newspapers and chains are selling out or shutting down. They are dinosaurs.

They are clinging to the past and dying. I am embracing the future and hope it saves my career and the careers of a lot of other high-quality journalists. People who really care about the news, care about how you get your news. That “dead fish” in the driveway known as the daily newspaper is history. Local TV ratings are slumping too. Unless traditional media outlets get with the program and make their online content exciting and relevant, they will fade, too.

I say this because there is a rebirth of journalism in America. It is reporting, in many cases, by ordinary people putting news that matters to themselves and to others in a forum that is accessible and democratic. It’s not “news from on high.” It’s news from people to people, on issues that matter. Whether you voted for him or not, Barack Obama will go down in history as the first national politician to embrace and understand how this works, to the point that it made a significant difference in the outcome of his campaign.

I get it, too! The most important campaign trip I made this year was to the Texas primary in March with my 16-year-old daughter Alexandra, an aspiring journalist who is also wired into how “new media” works. I was seeing the future through my own child. The lesson stuck!

So, to Paul Fifield, a hard-working media professional and a deeply religious family man: You helped me launch a new career this year; you helped me see my own future through the eyes of my own daughter; and you helped me realize life isn’t over at 48, when hard times arrive.

God Bless you, Paul, and may you one day have an epiphany with Kyleigh like the one I had with my own daughter! It is life changing!

Please feel free to post your Thanksgiving thoughts on what you are thankful for. Just click on “comments” at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

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