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“So, who does Biden pick for VP?” – The Sunday Political Brunch – May 3, 2020

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. – During one of the Democratic presidential debates, former Vice President Joe Biden promised to name a woman as his running mate. It’s one of those political promises you simply can’t break, so his VP choice will indeed be a female. But which one? There are plenty of options, but as with any choice there are upsides and downsides. Let’s “brunch” on that this week.

“Kamala’s Calling?” – Sen. Kamala Harris, (D) California is a popular choice among rank and file Democrats. She’s biracial, she’s energetic, she’s smart, and has a long resume of elective offices, so she’s experienced. But she’s from California, a state Democrats are likely to win no matter whom Biden chooses. The big question on Harris is, where can she help Biden win outside of California? What swing states can she help win back from Republicans?

“Amy Maybe” – Sen. Amy Klobuchar, (D) Minnesota went from being a political trivia question to a, “Wow, where did she come from?” as the debates went on. Except for her flub on naming the president of Mexico, she was a confident, rock-solid debater, who showed knowledge and experience. As a Midwest moderate, she can balance Biden’s more East Coast liberalism. So, she helps with geographic and ideological balance. It’s a good bet she can help recapture neighboring Wisconsin, but Democrats must win Pennsylvania and Michigan, too, if they are to win the White House. (Trump won all three in 2016).

“Abrams of Georgia on My Mind” – The suggested pick that has puzzled me most is Stacey Abrams, who served ten years in the Georgia House of Representatives. She was the Democratic nominee for Governor of Georgia in 2018, but lost a close race. Because of an influx of people from the Midwest and Northeast (much like Florida), many people believe Georgia will soon become a “purple state,” where Democrats may be more viable in the Deep South (much like North Carolina). With 16 Electoral College votes, Georgia could become a key battleground state. But we’re not there yet, and I don’t think Abrams would be a viable pick if she hasn’t been able to win statewide.

“Warren’s Waiting” – Sen. Elizabeth Warren, (D) Massachusetts is a possibility, but not a probability. The far more liberal Warren had too many sharp differences with Biden in the debates. She does not have a lot of appeal to people at the center of the political spectrum. Remember, neither Democrats nor Republicans have enough registered voters to win this race outright. Unless you can appeal to that large block of unaffiliated or independent voters in the middle, you can’t win the White House. A Biden-Warren ticket doesn’t offer the geographic and ideological balance you usually need to win.

“Wildcard Whitmer” – Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is in her first term as the chief executive in Michigan, after serving 14 years in the Michigan Legislature, and as a county prosecutor before that. Prior to being elected Governor of Michigan, she was Minority Leader in the State Senate. I mention that because it tells you she can carry her state, one that is essential to win for Democrats to retake the White House. But like Klobuchar, the big question is where can Whitmer help Democrats win beyond the borders of her home. She is in one of the states hardest hit by Covid-19, and has been highly critical of President Trump’s handling of the crisis. In a toss-up state, that criticism can cut both ways among partisan voters. Again, because Democrats need to carry Michigan so badly, I am keeping Whitmer on my short list of VP finalists.

“Biden-Obama?” – In a flip of the 2008 and 2012 bumper sticker, the families swap spots on the ballot. A lot of Democrats had hoped the former first lady would jump in the race, but she never did. Obviously, she lacks any elected experience, but one thing we’ve learned from politically savvy first ladies such as Nancy Reagan and Hillary Clinton, is they can be sponges and learn a ton just by being there during the major discussions and decisions. Seeing how the job gets done, day-in, and day-out from a front row seat is a heck of an education. Still, I consider Michelle Obama a long shot. Joe Biden is already tremendously popular with African Americans, so Obama, like Abrams and Harris, really wouldn’t add to that.

“Latina Luck” – Two names that are not well-known, but are certainly viable are Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, (D) New Mexico and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, (D) Nevada. Both are Latina and seen as rising stars in their party. And both come from well-known political families in their states. But Nevada and New Mexico are states that used to be red, but have been solidly blue in the past several presidential election cycles. In short, Biden is likely to carry both states, so the question becomes where can these two ladies help beyond the borders of their home states? Obviously, the Hispanic voting block has become key as the largest minority group in the nation. But, Republicans also do very well in this demographic, especially in Florida and Texas. These two possible choices would have to help Biden carry some swing states.

“Clinton Comeback” – I often get asked about whether Hillary Clinton would accept the number two spot on the ticket, having been the nominee last time around. It would seem an odd bet, but I think she’s itching for a rematch. It would certainly be the most experienced ticket Democrats could offer, and with concerns about Biden’s health, she’d make many comfortable with her ability to take the big job, if need be. I know it may sound crazy, but I wouldn’t rule her out!

Who would you pick to be Joe Biden’s running mate? Just click the comment button to let us know!

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia and its five neighboring states, including 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: AP

More life changes coming when Covid-19 passes - “The Sunday Political Brunch” April 26, 2020

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. – More changes coming. I got a lot of buzz from my column last week, “Corona virus will fade; life-changes will not” - https://patch.com/us/white-house/coronavirus-will-fade-life-changes-will... I just scratched the surface of the possibilities in that column, but this week we are finding the technical possibilities are endless! Let’s “brunch” on that this week!

“Comin’ in on a Wing and a Prayer” – We are in a month with three major religious observances, Easter, Passover and Ramadan. How did you practice your faith with most physical places of worship closed? For weeks my church, and so many others have been streaming their services online. And it’s not just Sunday services. Now, many are doing Bible study, too. Our service is at 10am Eastern Time. Join us at: https://www.facebook.com/FirstPresbySA/ and there will be a video link to our worship. So many former members from all over the country are tuning in! All are welcome!

“The Doctor is In (in Your Inbox!)” – I had two medical appointments scheduled in the next week and guess what? The doctors’ officers called me and said they aren’t doing in-person visits, but would I like to do my appointment by FaceTime or Skype? Look, at age 60, I have my share of medical issues, including the normal wear and tear from the daily grind. At first, I was hesitant, but I have been wanting to talk to my doctors, nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants about a host of issues and questions. So, I’m all in! I’ll report back on how it went.

“Surgeries Are Back On” – Speaking of medicine, many states including West Virginia and Ohio are taking steps to resume non-emergency, elective surgeries. It’s being done for health care, but also as way to help restart the economy. Thousands of health care workers across the nation have been furloughed, because so many elective procedures are cancelled. If they can be done safely, with proper preventive equipment in use, why not let these employees return, the surgeries be done, and the payments start flowing in?

“Congress Needs to Modernize” – Do you realize that the only way for Members of Congress to vote, is to be physically present on the House and Senate floor? In my career in DC I can remember times when an ambulance rushed a lawmaker from the hospital to the capitol just to cast a vote. That’s silly given modern technology. The latest economic stimulus bill approved this week, could have passed three weeks ago, but Congress was in its district recess with members at home. Given the secure Zoom technology and other platforms, why not let them just vote from back in their states? What if the nation was under a physical terrorist attack, but they were all at home? We’d still need to have them cast critical votes. The time is NOW to change!

“States, Counties and Cities, Join the Parade!” – The same is true for most state and local governments. It’s just antiquated. You can conduct an entire legislative meeting at the state, county and local level online, but you can’t cast a binding vote in most places. Again, given modern technology, let’s open-up electronic legislative voting as an option, too, with adequate safeguards in place.

“Voting Online, or Vote-by-Mail?” – Three states – Oregon, Washington and Colorado – now conduct all their elections by mail. Six other states allow you to request a permanent absentee ballot. And twenty states allow a mail-in absentee ballot, but you must have an excuse such as a medical condition. Here in West Virginia, there is a big push this year to get most people to vote by absentee because of health concerns at crowded polling places. But that is all just for this year. I wonder how many states will move to a more predominant mail-in system? I bet many will.

“School’s Out for Summer… Oh No It’s Not!” – This week Gov. Jim Justice (R) West Virginia announced that children would not return to school buildings for the remainder of the school year. They’ve already been studying online at home for weeks. They are not getting a free pass, with an early end to the school year. Instead they will continue utilizing technology at sites such as: www.Schoology.com. Even when brick-and-mortar classes will return, the online component will be seared into the education landscape for good, from K-12, through graduate schools.

“Your Honor, I Plead…. Online!” – Another place we’ve seen the technology explode during Covid-19 is in some of our legal proceedings. Many crowded courts in states such as Florida have been doing video first appearances and arraignments for years, saving the transportation cost from jails to courthouses. But what happens when a courthouse is declared a “hot spot” because of too many employees and others testing positive for Coronavirus. That happened at the Kanawha County Courthouse here in Charleston. Well, all kinds of emergency hearings are being held with the judge in chambers, and the legal combatants sitting in their lawyer’s offices, elsewhere in town.

Do you have ideas on ways where we can incorporate more technology during and after this pandemic? Please click the comment button on this page and let us know your thoughts!

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia, its five surrounding 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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