Good Bye Election 2018, Hello Campaign 2020 - Sunday Political Brunch - December 2, 2018


CHARLESTON, W. Va. – Let’s wrap up the 2018 election and put a bow on it! At the same time, let’s say ‘good morning’ to the first days of the 2020 campaign. Yes, it never ends, but that’s the reality of how I make my living. In this heated political climate, it’s job security for political analysts like me. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“Mississippi” – Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS) defeated former Agriculture Secretary and Rep. Mike Espy (D-MS) in the final race for a U.S. Senate seat. That leaves the GOP with a 53 to 47 margin over Democrats in the upper chamber of Congress. Hyde-Smith, who had to defend (or apologize) for some racially-tinged remarks, wound up in a much closer race than it should have been. She beat Espy 54 to 46 percent, in one of the most “red” states in the country.

“Final House” – Right now it is 234 Democrats to 200 Republicans. The only race left is in the 21st District of California, where the Democrat holds a slight lead over the Republican. No matter how it ends up, Democrats have solid control of the House for the first time in eight years. But a mere swing of 18 votes in 2020 could give it back to Republicans. In this volatile political climate, all bets are off.

“Pelosi Returns” – It appears Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) will be returning as Speaker of the House, after an eight-year absence. But at age 78, some of her fellow Democrats believe it’s time for Pelosi to move on and hand the mantle of leadership to the next generation. Before anyone accuses me of ageism, I remind you that former Speaker Tip O’Neill (D-MA) served until he was 75. Pelosi did not help her cause by saying in October that she would be a “transitional” leader. Some younger Democrats want her to be specific and set a date for a transition of power. Pelosi does not want to do that, because declaring an exact end-date to her reign would make her a “lame duck” Speaker (and greatly reduce her power and leverage from the get-go). It will be hard for Pelosi to be President Trump’s critic-in-chief if she’s on the way out anyway.

“New Hampshire on My Mind” – My headline was not a joke. The race for the White House in 2020 is already underway. Just look at the list of potential candidates visiting the home of the “First in the Nation Primary” in October and November 2018: Gov. John Kasich (R-OH), Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA), Rep. Jon Delaney (D-MD), former Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I-NY), Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-MA), former Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D-VA), Sen Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), former Secretary of State Jason Kander (D-MO), Rep. Tim Ryan (D-OH), former Rep. Julian Castro (D-TX), Sen. Jeff Markley (D-OR), and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ). Folks, Campaign 2020 is on! I’m not kidding!

“Democrats Turn at Clown Car!” – There were lots of laughs in 2016, with 17 Republicans seeking the party’s presidential nomination. People said it was like the proverbial clown-car at the circus with an endless number of clowns exiting a Volkswagen Beetle. Well, 2020 could be a similar gaggle for the Democrats. Here’s a list of potential candidates for the blue, donkey party: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom (D-CA), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), former Gov. Deval Patrick (D-MA), 2016 nominee Hillary Clinton (D-NY), former Vice President Joe Biden (D-DE), former HUD Secretary Julian Castro (D-TX), his twin Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX), Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX), Sen. Bernie Sanders (D-VT), media mogul Oprah Winfrey, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), former First Lady Michelle Obama, and the already-declared State Sen. Richard Ojeda (D-WV). But wait, there’s more! Stay tuned!

“Government Shutdown, Again?” – Okay, here we go again! If a temporary government spending bill is not approved soon, there will be a partial federal government shutdown on December 7. This never favors the party in power in Congress. During the last four government shutdowns, Republicans were in control of Congress. On three of those occasions there was a Democrat in the White House, and on one the president was a Republican. So why does Congress always get blamed? Well the public is a lot more sympathetic to one person sitting in the Oval Office, compared to the chaos of 535 people down the street in Congress. Is that fair? Maybe not, but it’s a reflection of human nature.

“Tears for Tear Gas” – There was a lot of outrage this week when U.S. Immigration and Customs agents lobbed tear gas at immigrants attempting to enter the U.S. at the Mexico border. The anger at the Trump administration seemed to dissipate when video surfaced of similar tear gas launches during the Obama administration. Anger over illegal immigration is probably the main reason President Trump was elected. He promised to be tough against violations, and he promised to build a wall. As distasteful as some people may find the use of tear gas, it’s been done before and will likely be done again, regardless of who lives in the White House. I know people think I’m crazy, but I predict the divided Congress will pass some (but not all) immigrations reforms and President Trump will sign them before the 2020 election.

What big issues are on your radar screen for 2019 and 2020? Just click the comment button on this page or the comment button at

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

© 2018, MarkCurtisMedia, LLC

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

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