“Oh, that’s Right! There’s an Election This Year!” – Sunday Political Brunch, April 12, 2020

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. – I am up to my eyeballs in the Coronavirus coverage. It’s literally all I do anymore - morning, noon, and night. I am physically and mentally drained by this story. In fact, I am so all-consumed by it, I’ve hardly had time to focus on any of the political implications. That’s a weird feeling, because after all, this is an election year. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“Bernie ‘Burns Out’ in ‘Flame Out!’” – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) Vermont officially ended his second quest for the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party. Even though Sanders has 941 of the 1,991 delegates needed for the nomination - with a lot of states yet to vote – the momentum isn’t going his way. The surge in recent contests puts Joe Biden in the lead with 1,217 delegates. Most of the other candidates who’ve dropped out have endorsed Biden and released their delegates. It’s his nomination to lose, or is it?

“Oh No, it’s Cuomo!” – Many Democrats are speaking privately about a brokered convention. Yes, Biden can win the nomination, but can he beat President Trump? There are a lot of doubters. The Coronavirus crisis has rocketed Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) New York into the forefront. No state has been hit harder by Covid-19 than New York. Cuomo and Trump have talked a lot, and have been complimentary to each other, but you must wonder how long that will last. A lot of us thought Cuomo would run for the White House in 2020, but he passed. But has the opportunity closed entirely? I don’t think so. Keep an eye on Cuomo. A New York Post poll has 56 percent of Democrats want Cuomo, with 44 percent sticking with Biden. Wow!

“Cuomo Versus Cuomo” – Okay, this is probably an “inside journalism” ethics debate, but is anyone else besides me concerned about how many times Gov. Andrew Cuomo has appeared on his brother Chis Cuomo’s show on CNN? In journalism school they told us this a is big “no-no.” It’s a huge conflict of interest. But in the interests of full-disclosure, I have interviewed my daughter several times on-air, as she has been a newsmaker in her own right. I think it’s okay if you ask them questions you would ask of any other person in their role. The big concern comes if you are actively trying to promote their cause or agenda. Chris asked his older brother if he was going to make a backdoor run for president. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, “People asked me, well, will you run for president, I said no. I’m not that guy, Chris. I’m not that politician that says, yeah, it’s all about me, the next step on the ladder. … I am true to my word.” We’ll see.

“Trump’s Troubles” – We’re less than seven months away from the November election, and there is some troubling polling for President Trump. A Reuters/Ipsos Poll this week shows that only 42 percent of respondents approve of President Trump’s handling of the Coronavirus outbreak. That’s down from 48 percent approval last week. A March 22 poll had 55 percent approving of Trump’s responds. So, the erosion of support is concerning to Republicans. The big wild card here is how long the crisis lasts. If it peaks, then dissipates in the next month, Trump may be on a glidepath to reelection. But if the caseload and death rate explode and we’re still dealing with this in June, he has serious problems that, perhaps are irreversible.

“To Primary, or Not to Primary?” – For the second time this primary season we’ve seen a state literally have a meltdown over whether to hold a primary election. A few weeks ago, it was Ohio where it was on-again, off-again a least four different times in a 24-hour period. Ultimately Ohio moved its primary to June. In my home state of Wisconsin, it was on-again, off-again as well, until the Wisconsin Supreme Court said the election could proceed this past Tuesday. In many polling places it was chaos, with not enough poll workers, and voters confused about where to go, and what to do. There was a grand push for people to vote absentee, but for many it was too little, too late. I heard lots of complaints from both Democrats and Republicans in my Badger State.

“West Virginia Gets it Right” – I firmly believe all voters have the right to vote in peace, and not fear and chaos. They need to vote with clarity, not confusion. In West Virginia, our Governor, with support from the Secretary of State and the Attorney General, decided last week to move the May 12th primary, to June 9th. In addition, all 1.2 million registered voters were sent a postcard this week, asking if they would like to vote by absentee ballot, instead of in person. Tradition tells us polling places are packed with elderly voters, and senior poll workers – a high-risk group for Covid-19. This was a well-executed plan to maximize voter participation, while minimizing the health risks. More states should follow West Virginia’s lead!

How has the Coronavirus affected your voting plans in 2020? Just click the comment button and let us know!

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia and it’s five surrounding states, and most of the Washington, D.C. media market. He is a National Contributing Political Reporter for The White House Patch at www.Patch.com.

© 2020, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

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