The Presidential Primary Parade Marches On - Sunday Political Brunch March 17, 2019


CHARLESTON, W. Va. – The parade of 2020 presidential candidates continues to draw more members. And news about the current president could certainly have an impact on what happens next year. I feel like I’m the only person not in the race! “Let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“Betting on Beto” – Former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, (D-Texas) is the latest candidate to announce a White House bid. O’Rourke is an El Paso native who went on to an Ivy League education at Columbia University. A musician and businessman, O’Rourke served three terms in the House of Representatives, before losing a close Senate bid to Sen. Ted Cruz, (R-Texas) last November. He’s viewed by many as a national rising star in the Democratic Party. At 46, he is very popular among young voters.

“Border Emergency Vote” -- It’s ironic that on the day O’Rourke announced his candidacy, President Trump was handed a big defeat on the U.S. Senate on the very issue of border security which is front and center in O’Rourke’s old El Paso district. The Senate voted to disapprove of the president’s Declaration of National Emergency at the border on a vote of 59 to 41. All Democrats disapproved and were joined by 12 Republicans. President Trump promptly vetoed the bill, but as of now there is a not a two-thirds vote in Congress to overturn his veto. Wall construction – and the controversy – are likely to carry on.

“South Bend Mayor” – Democrats now have 16 candidates in the race and that list could grow. I’ve tried to profile everyone who jumps in, but I need to catch up. Among those officially declared is Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-South Bend, IN). He has an interesting pedigree. He’s a Harvard-educated Rhodes Scholar, who also served in the Navy in Afghanistan. Oh, and he’s also gay. At 37, he’s the youngest candidate in the race. Being a mayor is not a traditional platform for a presidential run, but in this day and age a lot of the old political rules are out.

“Dem Strategy” – I’ve said often that this 2020 race is a fight for the soul of the Democratic Party. You have a big group under 55 running, and a significant number 60-plus running. And you have ideological differences. A majority are running as progressive-liberals. That’s fine, but how does that attract the 30 to 40 percent of Americans who self-identify as moderate-independents. Also, candidates need to come up with unique and original ideas and platforms. Having eight different shades of vanilla is not a breakout strategy. The same applies to the party-elder candidates. People are looking for bold, new ideas, but they must be politically practical.

“WV Governor’s Race” – Don’t just keep an eye on the presidential race in 2020. We are going to have some real barn-burners for Senate and Governor’s races around the nation. The most volatile is already shaping up in West Virginia. Gov. Jim Justice (R-WV) is seeking reelection, but may be challenged by Sen. Joe Manchin, who previously was elected to two-terms as Governor. Manchin and Justice – once friends - are now bitter enemies. First, Justice switched parties after winning as a Democrat backed by Manchin. Then Justice fired Gayle Manchin, Joe’s wife, who he appointed as West Virginia Secretary of Education and the Arts. This could get bloody!

“Trump Bellwether” – What happens in West Virginia could help take the temperature of the rest of the nation as to what might happen to President Trump. His second-highest margin of victory in any state was West Virginia (close behind Wyoming). Trump and fellow billionaire Jim Justice are close, personal friends. It’s a “Billionaire’s Club” thing, I guess. But Trump also likes Manchin who has the most conservative voting record of any Democrat in the Senate. Trump worked hard for State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R-WV) who nearly upset Manchin’s third senate election. This race is on fire!

What are your thoughts on the latest political developments for President Trump? Just click the comments button on this story or at

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is the Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia and the five surrounding states, and much of the Washington, D.C. media market.

© 2019, Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

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