The Wild Card Races of Campaign 2020 – “Sunday Political Brunch” - September 8, 2019


PROVIDENCE, R.I – We are on the road this week looking at politics New England style. While all the attention has focused on the presidential campaign so far this year, there are some fascinating races for U.S. House, Senate, and some contests for governorships. Let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“Almost Political Heaven!” – It was shaping up to be one of the marquee races for governor this year, but it won’t happen. For months, Sen. Joe Manchin (D) West Virginia, has toyed with the idea of running for his old job of Governor of West Virginia. The current office-holder is Gov. Jim Justice (R) West Virginia. Justice, a Manchin protégé, won the governorship in 2016 running as a Democrat. But seven months into his term, Justice stood onstage with President Trump and switched to the Republican party. He even fired Manchin’s wife from his cabinet. But Manchin decided to pass on the race this week and will be staying in the Senate.

“Georgia on My Mind” – Sen. Johnny Isakson (R) will be stepping down at the end of this year due to health concerns, after serving 20 years in Congress. He was just reelected in 2016, the Republican Governor can appoint his successor until a 2020 special election. After almost winning the governor’s race in Georgia, and flipping a Republican U.S. House seat, Democrats believe they have a real shot to win this Senate seat. Like the former solid red states of North Carolina, and Virginia, Georgia has turned more “purple” as more Northeastern and Midwestern Democrats have migrated South.

“First in the Nation, New Hampshire!” – While everyone is focused on the traditional “first in the nation” presidential primary in New Hampshire, there may be another hot race there. Sen. Jean Shaheen, who also served as governor, is up for reelection. Among those hopping to face off with her in November 2020 is President Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski. Lewandowski is very combative, loves to duel with the press, and is still beloved by his former boss. Trump loves a street fight, and you can envision him in New Hampshire often to help an old friend try to increase the GOP margin in the Senate, which currently stands at 53-47.

“Montana or Bust” – Sen. Steve Daines (R) is facing reelection and appears on an easy glidepath for reelection. But Governor Steve Bullock is term-limited, and he is running for president. His poll numbers are in the weeds, and his White House chances are grim. But Bullock is very popular in Montana and could give Daines a run for his money. Bullock insists he has no interest in the Senate, but if he changes his mind watch out. Remember, Democrats gain control with a net gain of three or four U.S. Senate seats. This is one to keep an eye on.

“Texas Hold ‘Em or Fold ‘Em” – When you think of Texas, it seems to be one of the most solidly red states in the nation. Or is it? Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) Texas nearly defeated Sen. Ted Cruz (R) Texas in 2018, and O’Rourke is getting lots of attention in his presidential campaign. Five Texas Republican House members have already announced they are retiring in 2020, and Democrats believe they can make significant gains. Texas (like Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia, as I mentioned earlier), is seeing an influx in population and it includes a lot of Democrats.

“Apple, Tree?” – Sen. Mike Enzi (R) Wyoming will not seek a fifth term. But will Rep. Liz Cheney get into the race? The daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney is a rising star in the national Republican Party and is already Chair of the House Republican Conference, the third-highest party office, in just her second term. A Senate seat would likely start getting her presidential mentions.

“The Wild, Wild Cards” – We always hear about celebrities who plan to run for public office. The anti-Trump backlash has produced legions suggesting they may run for the White House or something else. They include Oprah Winfrey, Roseanne Barr, Ron Perlman, Katy Perry, Kanye West and Alec Baldwin, among others. So far none of them has filed candidacy papers for anything. It seems we go through this every election cycle.

What races are you watching? Which candidates do you like? Just click the comment button!

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virgins, its five neighboring states, and most of the Washington, D.C. media market. He is a National Contributing Writer for The White House Patch at

© 2019, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

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