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An "August" Political Season - "The Sunday Political Brunch" August 2, 2020


CHARLESTON, W. Va. – This is an August no one saw coming. Instead of being a month of “august” political events, it may be a month of great disappointment and few big headlines. Or, will it? Despite the doomed, “Zoomed” conventions, there might just be some real excitement after all. Let’s “brunch” on that this week!

“A Sleeper for Vice-President?” – She was on almost no one’s radar screen (including mine), but suddenly Rep. Karen Bass (D) California has rocketed out of nowhere to be under serious consideration. Here’s her :30 second biography. Bass is in her fifth term in Congress, representing a district in Los Angeles County. Prior to her ten years in the House of Representatives, she served six years in the California Assembly, including as Speaker of the House from 2008 to 2010. She was the first African American woman in America to be a House Speaker. I’ve interviewed her in both offices and she’s a force. On a sad, ironic note, if Bass joins the Biden ticket, you would have two candidates who lost a daughter in a tragic car accident. The odd, cross-paths of politics.

“Pros and Cons on Bass” – She rocketed into the leadership early in both the State Assembly and the House of Representatives. She’s a liberal and a partisan, but is known for having cordial, effective relationships with Republicans. She also served as Speaker of the House for a state – that if it were a stand-alone nation – would have the fifth largest economy in the world. So, she has chops. On the downside, (as with Sen, Kamala Harris), she comes from California, a state Democrats are likely to win no matter who is the VP choice. With Florida and Georgia in play as battleground states, I still say Rep. Val Demings (D) Florida, and Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms (D) Atlanta are the more likely picks. Stay tuned, we could know this week!

“What Next?” – I was on the “Copeland’s Corner” podcast this week with my old pal Brian Copeland from KGO Radio in San Francisco. He asked me if Joe Biden should start naming his cabinet now, rather than wait for the traditional post-election appointments. I have written about this topic often over the past year, basically saying any Democrat who won the nomination should announce the cabinet well before November. You can imagine Biden picking Sen. Kamala Harris for Attorney General, and Pete Buttigieg for Housing and Urban Development, and Sen. Jack Reed for Secretary of Defense, and so forth. It would be unprecedented. No one has ever announced the team they planned to field in January, this early. I’d do it! Go!

“Why Telegraph Your Moves? – Yes, naming a cabinet early has its risks. Despite good vetting over the years, we’ve seen surprises in the confirmation process that no one saw in the background check. Senator John Tower’s nomination for Secretary of Defense misfired, not to mention Bill Clinton’s first two choices for Attorney General, Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood. But there are pluses. Ronald Reagan promised during the campaign that he’d name the nation’s first female Supreme Court Justice. And while he did not mention Sandra Day O’Connor by name until he won, and there was a high court opening, she was a hugely successful and popular choice.

“The Unconventional Conventions” – It’s August and the Democratic National Convention is supposed to be meeting in Milwaukee the week of August 17th, with the Republicans scheduled in Charlotte the week of August 24th. Neither conventions will really happen as we know it. A small smattering of dignitaries and limited media will be in both cities, as the conventions will largely be viral. These conventions have largely become “political cocktail parties” for the last several cycles but quite honesty have lost their relevance. They are political dinosaurs in an Internet age. I’ll be on vacation and not attending this year. I may weigh-in on this blog, but I suspect I will zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz! “The Times, they are a Changin,’” sang Bob Dylan.

“Remembering Herman Cain” – Last week I paid tribute to Rep. John Lewis (D) Georgia, whom I came to know well as a Washington, D.C. Correspondent for WSB-TV in Atlanta. This week the nation lost Herman Cain, a former Republican presidential candidate in 2012. These two very different men were not natives of Atlanta, but both made their political legacy there. Lewis was a liberal leader of the successful 1960s Civil Rights Movement, while Cain was a politically conservative, successful businessman. There’s always been this odd political assumption that to be successful, or progress as an African American, you had to vote Democrat. Why? As a white male I was free to vote for liberal Ted Kennedy or conservative Ronald Reagan. Shouldn’t black voters have the same political options as me, without reproach? Both these men should be honored for being successful African American role models – albeit at opposite ends of the political spectrum – and for their contributions to this nation.

Who would you like to see as Joe Biden’s Vice-Presidential pick? Just click the comment button and let us know!

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

© Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

The 100 Day March to Election Day - "The Sunday Political Brunch" July 26, 2020


CHARLESTON, W. Va. – We are at a critical milestone. Sunday July 26, 2020 marks 100 days until Election Day 2020. There is a lot of consternation in the polls, and precious little time to change minds. A lot is at stake. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“The Trump Briefing Return” – This week President Trump returned to the White House Briefing Room podium for the first time since April. The question is, is it too little, too late? The closest this race has been was April 3, 2020, when it was a statistical dead heat with a Fox News Poll showing President Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden tied at 43 percent. The latest nationwide composite poll from Real Clear Politics has it 50 percent for Biden to 41 percent for Trump. The race is in play, with no guarantees based on the latest polling data. But clearly Trump’s lack of Covid-19 briefings may have damaged his chances.

“Florida Convention Off” – President Trump has cancelled his planned election acceptance speech in Jacksonville, Florida, while much of the rest of the GOP National Convention in Charlotte may be virtual. The Milwaukee convention for the Democrats will be largely viral. My plans to be at both are cancelled. Trump needs to win both Florida and North Carolina to win a second term, and this hurts him. Being high-profile in both states just over two months before the election helps. And all the money that would be poured into the local economies would also be a bonus to the Republicans. Taking that off the table hurts bad in must-win states.

“Biden VP Pick?” – Former Vice President Joe Biden needs to name his running mate, and soon, in my opinion. He needs to build some excitement and momentum, and with it the money and manpower that’s needed for a ground campaign. One thought I had was that he announce it the week of the Republican National Convention, to steal the GOP’s thunder, just as John McCain did to Democrats the morning after their 2008 convention in Denver, when he announced Gov. Sarah Palin, (R) AL. While that strategy caused a huge bounce for the GOP (and briefly put McCain in the lead), it failed in the end. Biden should announce his pick no later than August 3, which is three months until Election Day.

“All Eyes on the Senate” – As with 1980, the race for the White House is not the only marquee race this year. Control of the U.S. Senate is on the table. Right now, Republicans hold a 53-47 advantage over Democrats. But the latest Real Clear Politics composite poll of the Senate shows Republicans winning 47 seats and Democrats winning 46. There are seven states where the races are a toss-up: Maine, Arizona, Georgia. Montana, Michigan, North Carolina and Iowa. Democrats need to win three or four of the toss-ups to take the Senate majority.

“What About the House?” – The Real Clear Politics composite poll for the U.S. House shows a much different story. It lists 214 Democrats as safe, versus 190 Republican. 31 races are listed as toss-ups, so Democrats need to win only four of them to maintain their majority. Republican chances of winning the House appear slim, to none.

“The Importance of Coattails” – In 1980 Ronald Reagan won a landslide victory over President Jimmy Carter, that was so large it swept Republicans into control of the U.S. Senate And while the GOP did not take the House that year, there were enough Republican gains that paired with conservative Southern Democrats, Republicans wound up with a philosophical majority in the House that helped pass tax cuts and defense spending increases, advocated by Reagan. The House will stay a Democratic majority in 2020, but if Biden wins the White House, he may sweep enough Senate races to get a majority there, too.

What’s going on in your state as we are 100 days until Election Day 2020. Just click the comment button and let us know!

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

© 2020 Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo courtesy Getty Images.

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