The Political “Purple Wave” of 2018 -- Sunday Political Brunch November 11, 2018

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. – For months we’ve had predictions of a Democrat “Blue Wave” in 2018, and a Republican “Red Wave.” Well, how about both, given the mixed results? If the late musician Prince Rogers Nelson were still alive, he might re-tool his song to read, “Purple Wave, Purple Wave!” Let’s brunch on that this week.

“Senate Stays the Course” – While the final results are not in yet, it looks like we will see a U.S. Senate with 53 Republicans to 47 Democrats. That’s in line with the 2 or 3 seat GOP gain I have been predicting for weeks. It’s close now, but as of press time Arizona (leaning Democrat) and Mississippi (leaning Republican) are the two wild-card seats. If we split the difference, we get 53-R to 47-D.

“Who Has the Advantage?” – The Senate has a unique role in American politics. It has the sole authority to confirm or deny federal court appointments and treaties with foreign nations. The House gets no say. If there are more Supreme Court appointments and Cabinet picks (i.e., the replacement for Jeff Sessions as Attorney General), it should be a smooth ride for Republicans. This is huge. Yes, cabinet members only last until the administration ends, but federal court picks are lifetime appointments at the District Court, Court of Appeals, and yes, at the Supreme Court level. Trump – even if he only serves one term – could shape federal court rulings for a generation.

“The Ginsberg Factor” – Look, I hate this part of covering politics – the political circling of the vultures. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg fell and broke a few ribs this past week. She’s 85 and has so far won her battle against cancer and heart disease. She’s a legal warrior and a tough human being. But, no one lives forever. If her health fails further, President Trump may have another Supreme Court pick. I can’t remember the last time a president had three picks just in the first term. President Reagan had three picks, but over two terms. Other presidents with multiple picks include Franklin Roosevelt with nine; Harry Truman with four; and Dwight Eisenhower with five.

“The House is a Louse!” – Again, as I predicted for weeks, the House will be in Democratic control for the first time in eight years. As of the latest Real Clear Politics count there are 225 Democrats, and 198 Republicans, with 12 House races still undecided. I didn’t do too bad on my prediction that the final count would be 221 to 214 in favor of Democrats.

“Who Has the Advantage Here?” – As with the Senate, the House has some unique powers, too. Since all revenue bills must begin in the House, Democrats will have a big say on the extension of many of the Trump tax cut legislation benefits. While some tax cuts were permanent, others providing middle and low-income tax relief will “sunset” after five years. Will there be extensions? Stay tuned!

“All Politics is Local” – The old favorite saying by U.S. House Speaker Tip O’Neill rings true all the time. The politics closest to you matters most, meaning your city council, school board, and county commission. But when you bump that up a notch, your Member of Congress is still a very locally-centric candidate compared to your U.S. Senator charged with representing the whole state. A switch in control of the U.S. House tells you that national issues aside – people are restless at the local and regional level. It’s a political alert on the radar screen that trouble may be brewing in the next election. So, 2018 could be a precursor for 2020.

“All Politics is Local – Chapter 2” – This week Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) won reelection after a bruising primary with Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R-WV). In the final weeks, Morrisey had three visits in West Virginia by President Trump, and one from Vice President Mike Pence. In a state where Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 42 percentage points in 2016, Manchin beat Morrisey by just 3.2 percentage points. You can probably attribute that to Manchin’s gift for retail politics in his 36-year political career. Shaking hands and kissing babies still matters in some places.

“Mr., I Mean Madame President” – Sorry to jump the gun to the next election. I confess to binge watching the final season of “House of Cards” with President Claire Underwood, I mean Claire Hale, now in charge. But in a world where “art imitates life” are we again on the verge of electing our first woman president? The list of names is growing: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA); Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA); Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), and, yes, even former Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) still in the mix. Across the aisle there’s U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley of South Carolina, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and former Gov. Susana Martinez (R-NM), among others.

“The Political Domino Effect”—I have long thought that after President Trump got rid of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the following scenario would occur. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) would be nominated to be Attorney General. With his senate seat vacated, Gov. McMaster (R-SC) would appoint Nikki Haley to the U.S Senate. It still could happen, but given Graham’s often sharp criticism of President Trump, it may not. Either way, keep your eyes on the rising political star of Nikki Haley. She’s not done yet!

“Why All of this Matters?” – No one likes to hear this. Yes, Election Day 2018 was November 6th. The start of Campaign 2020, began at sunrise on Wednesday, November 7, 2018. Let the games begin!

God Bless those who defend us this Veterans Day weekend, past present and future!!!

Mark Curtis, Ed. D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia and surrounding states and the District of Columbia.

© 2018, Mark Curtis Media, LLC -- Photo courtesy: Mark Curtis Media

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