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Sunday Political Brunch: Which Politicians Get Your Valentines?

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CHARLESTON, WV – Get your chocolates, roses, and champagne ready. We are starting a new tradition here at “The Brunch” of sending political Valentines. Politicians love to claim credit for things, that sometimes are truly the gifts (and works) of others. So, I’m in a gift giving mood! Let’s “bunch” on that this week:

“A Supreme Thanks!” – President Trump needs to send a Valentine to Senator Mitch McConnell, (R) Kentucky, the Senate Majority Leader. Yes, President Trump nominated Neal Gorsuch to be Associate Justice to the U.S. Supreme Court, and he was confirmed. But it was really McConnell, who stalled the nomination process when Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016. President Obama nominated the able Federal Appeals Court Judge Merrick Garland to the post, but since we were knee-deep in the Presidential campaign, McConnell and many others felt the new President – no matter who it was – should pick the next Justice. Yes, it infuriated Democrats, but McConnell’s stall gave the GOP a court pick, it might not have had.

“Everyone Knew Her as Nancy” – Liberal Democrats and “the dreamers” ought to send Valentines to Rep. Nancy Pelosi, (D) Minority Leader. She stood on the House floor for over eight hours this week, arguing for legal citizenship for people affected by DACA. The House doesn’t have the filibuster, as the Senate does, so her lengthy speech was a rare event, and the longest in U.S. House history. So far, her marathon speech has not resulted in any legislation, but it keeps the children’s immigration issue on the front-burner. Like her, or not, Pelosi has passion for her constituency.

“Hey Joe, You May Not Go!” – Last week President Trump and Vice President Pence were in West Virginia for the annual Republican Congressional retreat. At one-point VP Pence launched into an attack on Senator Joe Manchin, (D) West Virginia, who is perhaps the most conservative Democrat in the Senate and the one who most often sides with Republicans. It may have been a tactical mistake. Manchin – who is in the political fight of his life to keep the seat – is a political brawler who loves a good fight. Manchin responded saying, "The Vice President's comments are exactly why Washington sucks." Manchin also chastised the VP for not lodging his complaints, “to my face.” Pence may have provoked the “sleeping giant” in Manchin, who’s not likely to lose without a bruising fight. Joe, send Mike an unintended Valentine!

“To Serve; With Love” – Democratic Congressional candidates should send an en-masse Valentine to Republican incumbents and the GOP leadership. Again, as the government teeters on shutdown, the GOP continues to shovel electoral gold to Democrats. Look, the party in power is always going to get blamed for a shutdown – just look at the past three. Yes, the Democrats are probably way out of bounds for tying DACA to federal budget votes, but Republicans continue to look like, “the gang that can’t shoot straight.” Yes, partial government shutdowns are more theater than actual damage, but they are symbolic in the sense that it looks like the leaders can’t “keep the trains running on time.” Competence and leadership matters. Democrats sling your love arrows to the GOP!

“I ‘Heart’ Public Record Searches” – President Trump needs to send a dozen roses and a box of chocolates to FBI agent Peter Strzok and lawyer Lisa Page. The two – who were romantically and professionally involved – exchanged in an extensive series of anti-Trump emails and other communications. Given their involvement in the probe of Russian election meddling, etc., it gives the impression (real or perceived) of an internal FBI bias against candidate - and now President Trump. In a courtroom where a defense lawyer may have to argue “reasonable doubt,” this is gold. To be clear, President Trump has not formally been accused of any wrongdoing, but if he ever is, the Strzok-Page communications may be “Exhibit-A” in his defense.

“How Can I Miss You When You Won’t Go Away” – The nation needs to send Valentines to the countless men and woman who stood up to sexual harassment in the workplace this year, especially in the world of politics and public policy, where it seems especially bad. Members of both parties – sadly too numerous to mention here by name - have been caught, quit, or have otherwise been shamed by accusations from subordinates. Look, you were sent to Washington, D.C., or your state capitol, or to city hall to represent us and do the will of the people. It’s a State House; not frat house. A lot of offenders were sent packing this year on both sides of the aisle. Good riddance!

“Nobody Loves West Virginia More Than Me” – I won’t be sending him a dozen roses, but maybe a dozen shotgun shells (he loves hunting). Governor Jim Justice, (R) West Virginia is the most colorful politician I’ve covered since the late Senator Howell Heflin, (D) Alabama. Like Heflin, Justice is a huge figure (literally and figuratively), who says whatever he likes, without regard to whom it might offend. Last year Governor Justice (who called himself a grizzly bear), told the Senate Majority Leader (whom he compared to a little yelping, pesky dog), that he was “going to eat his a**” live on a statewide radio show. Love him or not, Justice and his folksy quotes are gold to any political junkie and reporter like me.

Who is you political Valentine this year? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia, and its five surrounding states, as well as Washington, D.C.

© 2018 Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo courtesy: Getty Images.

Sunday Political Brunch: The Intersection of Sports and Politics - February 4, 2018

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CHARLESTON, WV – Let’s put politics to rest and talk football this Super Bowl Sunday; and, on occasion, let's see where politics and football intersect.

“Hail to the Center” – No occupant of the White House has ever played in the NFL, let alone a Super Bowl, but President Gerald Ford came the closest (photo above). Ford was an All-American Center at the University of Michigan. Ford was offered NFL contracts with the Green Bay Packers and the Detroit Lions, but decided to go to Yale Law School instead. Ford did play on a team of College All-Stars against the Chicago Bears in 1935.

“A Close Second” – Jack Kemp, 1996 Republican Vice Presidential nominee, was an NFL Quarterback for the New York Giants, but did not get to play in the 1957 NFL Championship. He also played with the San Diego Chargers and the Buffalo Bills in the old AFL, playing in five AFL Championship games, winning in 1965 and taking home the MVP trophy.

“The NFL in Congress” – Several NFL players later turned to politics and won seats in Congress. They include Steve Largent, of the Seattle Seahawks; Heath Schuler, of the Washington Redskins and the New Orleans Saints; and Jon Runyan, of the Philadelphia Eagles. Canadian football star J.C. Watts represented Oklahoma in Congress for eight years.

“Here Comes the Judge” – Alan Page was one of the greatest Defensive Linemen in NFL history. He went to law school in the off-seasons and is currently a member of the Minnesota Supreme Court. Page played in four Super Bowls and lost them all.

“Here Comes the Justice” – In college and in the NFL, he was known as Byron “Whizzer” White, and was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame. In Washington, DC, they called him Justice Byron White, the only NFL player to ever serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. He was also Deputy Attorney General to Robert F. Kennedy, and also administered the Oath of Office to Vice President Al Gore.

“That’s Quite a Class” – New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick will be coaching his eigth Super Bowl team this year. Belichick is a 1971 graduate of the prestigious Phillips Academy Andover. His classmates included former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL), a candidate for President in 2016, and former Governor Lincoln Chafee (D-RI), also a candidate for President in 2016. Patriots executive Ernie Adams was also in that class. At one of his White House Super Bowl receptions, Belichick posed with President George W. Bush, who graduated from the same prep school in 1964.

“Geography Bee” – Many people around the Unites States believe the New England Patriots play in Boston, but they don’t. After many years as the Boston Patriots, they moved to Foxboro, Massachusetts, which is actually closer to Providence than it is to Boston. Go Pats!

“Player; Coach; and Congressman” – Tom Osborne had quite a career. After graduating from Hastings College in Nebraska, he went on to play in the NFL for the San Francisco 49ers and the Washington Redskins. Later he would be one of the most successful coaches in college football history, winning three national championships at the University of Nebraska. While that’s enough of a career for one lifetime, Osborne turned to politics, winning three terms in Congress before retiring in 2007.

“My Family Connection to Super Bowl 52” – I admit I’ll be cheering for Phialdelphia Eagles Tight End Zach Ertz, whom I predicted ten years ago would be a major star. Ertz was an all-state wide receiver at Monte Vista High School, in Danville, CA. My daughter Alexandra Curtis was a classmate and one of the cheerleaders for that team. Ertz was a giant in high school. You just knew he’d be in the end zone, standing head and shoulders above the other players, catching a lot of touchdowns. He was amazing, and I predicted him to be a major college star (at Stanford), and then the NFL. He’s a fine young man! I hope he wins!

Who is your favorite athlete-politician? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is a nationally-known Political Analyst. He is currently Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia, including extensive TV market penetration in Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC.

© 2018, Mark Curtis Media, LLC. (With material revised from pervious Super Bowl weekend columns since 2011).

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

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