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“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- December 11, 2016

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(Charleston, West Virginia) – Last week we profiled some possible Democratic Presidential candidates for 2020. A lot of their fates and fortunes depend on how well - or how poorly – the Trump White House goes. The same is true for aspiring Republicans in the event Trump serves only one-term. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“Marco? Polo!” – From the get-go, I thought Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) made a mistake entering the 2016 Presidential primary campaign. In my book, he was still too young and inexperienced (yes, I know, about as inexperienced as a young Senator Obama in 2008). Rubio also has an inspiring personal story similar to Obama's. My recommendation was that Rubio run for Governor in 2018. However, he broke a promise about not running for his Senate seat again in 2016 (which could be problematic down the road); yet he won. Rubio, at age 45, will be viable for the next four or five Presidential election cycles.

“Pence-ive” – The Vice President is almost always in the driver’s seat for the nomination, but it’s a double-edged sword. If Trump does well, Pence stays as VP. If Trump falters, Pence can be viewed as guilty by association. It’s hard for a VP to become President, short of the death of a Commander-in-Chief. President George H.W. Bush won by direct election in 1988, but the last person before him to succeed his boss by vote (not death) was President Martin Van Buren, way back in 1836. (By the way, both Van Buren and Bush were voted out after just one term).

“Sic ‘em, Kasich” – Governor John Kasich (R-OH) is termed-out in 2018. He still has a political future. Maybe the U.S. Senate? Who knows? And, yes, the White House is possible, if Trump falters badly. Kasich was one of those who ran like a scalded dog from Trump and never endorsed him; and, in fact, never showed up at the Republican National Conventions in Cleveland. Kasich is one who can legitimately say, “I told you so,” if Trump bombs. That could be an advantage! Kasich is 64 and likely has only one more shot at the White House.

“Cruz Cruise” – He had the second largest number of Republican delegates, and he is from the second-largest Electoral College state of Texas, with 38 votes. He’s only 45; he’s Hispanic; and, the most conservative wing of the party loves him. Cruz came through at the end by endorsing Trump, after dissing him at the Republican National Convention. Cruz has opportunities through – probably – the next five election cycles. Part of me says he’d rather be on the U.S. Supreme Court than in the White House or Senate, so keep an eye on that,

“Walking with Walker” – Does Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI) try again? I met him in October, when he visited West Virginia (photo above). In the early days of the 2016 campaign, I remember Walker leading one New Hampshire campaign poll by 12 points, but his momentum never materialized in the crowded field. He had one tough debate performance and lost traction. But Wisconsin is now a critical player on the national stage, so his fortunes could change. He’s only 49, so he has at least 20 years of “shelf life” in politics.

“Oh, Susana” – I believe Gov. Susana Martinez (R-NM) is still viable nationally. She is termed out as Governor, but could choose to take on incumbent Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM) in 2018. Governor Martinez had an unfortunate incident at a hotel party in 2015, in which some police (and others) thought she might be inebriated – an allegation never proven. Time may heal that, and U.S. Senate experience could boost her resume. She’s only 57, so she could be a Presidential or Vice Presidential contender for a few more cycles.

“Bush Back” – I have no doubts that former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) could resurface as a contender. He could enhance his resume by taking on Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) in his 2018 reelection bid. Nelson has served three terms, and most U.S. Senator are most vulnerable after three terms. Bush could use some foreign policy chops if Trump is vulnerable in the 2020 primary season. Senate experience could round out his resume. Bush will be 67 in 2020.

Who would you like to see become the GOP nominee in 2020 if Trump should falter? Click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2016, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Photo courtesy: WOWK-TV/Nexstar Broadcasting

“The Sunday Political Brunch” -- December 4, 2016

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(Charleston, West Virginia) – Okay, I know once I say this, most of my readers are going to want to club me, but here I go! It’s time to start handicapping Presidential candidates for 2020. We’ll start with Democrats this week, and follow jp with the Republicans next week. I know! I know! We just finished an election, but the race to New Hampshire is already on! Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“Third Time the Charm?” – A lot about who steps up to challenge President Trump in four years will depend on how well his first term goes. If it has big problems, don’t count Hillary Clinton out for an “I told you so” rematch. If her health is good (and I know she’ll be 73 – but we’re all living longer), I firmly believe she’s viable for one more election cycle. But, if Trump does well, she may have to give her final shot a pass.

“Another Famous Name” – I think a lot of the competition will be between new faces and the party’s old guard. Having said that, I believe Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) kind of fits in both groups. Plenty of party old-timers will be sentimental for his dad; yet many of the party’s youngest voters will have no memory of Governor Mario Cuomo (D-NY). Andrew has an impressive resume, including a Presidential Cabinet slot and having been New York Attorney General, before getting the state’s top job. At age 58, he’s “young enough," yet “old enough" to be viable in four years and beyond.

“Gavin, Who?” – Back in 1999, when I first started working as a reporter in San Francisco, people were touting a young County Supervisor named Gavin Newsom as eventual Presidential fodder. I liked Gavin, but I scoffed. He was a baby-faced 31-year-old at that time – smart and sincere – but, I thought the idea was nuts. Fast forward. He is now Lt. Governor of California and could become Governor in 2018. The one-time most-eligible bachelor now has a beautiful wife and kids, and they look like they fell out of a Kennedy photo album. Images matter, folks! On the plus - and the minus side - he is the person most responsible for same-sex marriage becoming legal in the United States. As Mayor oF San Francisco, he made a bold - yet controversial - move in favor of same-sex marriage, and he won.

“The Warren Report” – Much of what happens to the Democratic Party depends on whether it veers far, liberal left, or tries to have a more centrist philosophy. The odd-year elections in New Jersey and Virginia could be a key, but the real test will be in the 2018 mid-term Congressional and state elections. Again, much of this hinges on Trump’s success or failure. But Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) remains very popular in her party’s liberal wing. She is the heir to the Bernie Sanders movement, the power of which should not be underestimated. She’s viable.

“Raising Kaine” – Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) is very viable. By his own admission, he’s boring and dull as dirt; but if you are looking for competency, he may be the man. Kaine has been a Mayor, a Governor, and a Senator – plus a Vice Presidential nominee. Not many people can say that. He was also chairman of the Democratic National Committee, so he has the potential to tap into the party’s deep purse. On the downside, he could be the bland, Walter Mondale-like nominee matched against a show-biz more Ronald Reagan-like charmer.
That Mondale lost in 1984. Trump – like Reagan – will be hard to beat if his first term goes as well as that of “The Gipper!”

“My, Oh My, O’Malley” – He did not catch fire in the Democratic primaries, but I think former Governor Martin O’Malley (D-MD) still has a shot at the White House. In hindsight, he should have run for U.S. Senate in 2016, instead of his ill-fated Presidential campaign. He, too, has been a big-city Mayor and Governor, and the Senate would have rounded out his resume like Tim Kaine’s. In his early 50s, O’Malley has a few more election cycles to play with.

“Si, Senor!” – I predicted that the Hispanic vote would be a huge factor in the outcome of the 2016 election, just as it had been for the previous three Presidential elections, but I was wrong. Trump lost the Latin vote badly, yet still won the Electoral College. I think it’s an anomaly, unlikely to be repeated. That said, I believe the Castro brothers from Texas will emerge as viable candidates – if not in 2020, then beyond. Julian Castro is Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, after having served as Mayor of San Antonio. His 42-year-old twin brother, Joaquin, has been in Congress going on three terms. Yes, they’re young, but keep them on the radar screen.

“Rethinking the Map” – I have said many times that I hate the Red State v. Blue State mentality that dominates my journalistic profession. Let me be blunt: It’s junk-food for the politically simple-minded! In 2008, Barack Obama challenged conventional wisdom and said, “We can win in the red-states of North Carolina, Virginia, and Indiana,” and he did. In 2016, Donald Trump said, “We can win in the blue-states of Pennsylvania, Michigan and Wisconsin,” and he did. People thought both men were off their rockers, yet both won with those states. So when I mention the Castro twins above, the question is whether they can win Texas, Arizona, and Georgia – three traditional red-states with booming Hispanic populations? In reality, the Electoral College map is like a giant chess board!

Who do you support for President in 2020? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2016, Mark Curtis Media, LLC

Photo courtesy: cbsnews.com

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