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More Candidates Jump into the Presidential Hot Tub – Sunday Political Brunch February 24, 2019

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. – A few weeks back I wrote an article about all the Democrats who announced for president at that point. It was a lot then, but YIKES how the list has grown! More folks have jumped in the “hot tub!’ Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“Feeling the Bern II” – Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) is once again running for president as a Democrat. He just announced this week, and already his fundraising has gone through the roof. He nearly upset Hillary Clinton for the nomination in 2016. And in ultra-conservative states (with pockets of progressives) such as West Virginia, Sanders beat Clinton in every single county, even though she was backed by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia). Sanders is 77 but if he keeps his kinetic energy level up, no one will care. He almost immediately neutralizes other progressives in the race. He’s the person to beat!

“Biden his Time” – There are reports this week that former Vice President Joe Biden has 90 percent made his decision. That tells me he’s getting in. Biden is his party’s elder statesmen, and his resume is long. Biden is 76, and like Sanders, if he speaks sharp and is high energy, no one will care. Biden can be a pit bull in a debate, and that makes him maybe the best equipped to take on President Trump one-on-one. To this day, I believe Biden regrets not running in 2016, given how underperforming Clinton was as a candidate and nominee. Yes, she won the popular vote, but her campaign assumed she was a shoo-in and put forth weak efforts in Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin, all key states she should have won, but didn’t.

“The Klobuchar Star” – One of the least known candidates for the Democratic nomination, is one whom I feel has the one of the best shots. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) is someone who may be more centrist or mainstream than coastal liberals such as Sen. Kamala Harris (D-California) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts). Klobuchar was a corporate lawyer and then the Hennepin County Prosecutor for two terms, so she has expertise in business and law enforcement. Those kinds of chops help with more centrist voters, especially men. Some might view that as a sexist analysis but winning in politics is often about forging coalitions. Women voters alone won’t carry the day for any candidate. Klobuchar, 58, is in her third Senate term.

“The Female Factor” -- My advice to all is to keep a sharp eye on the female candidates for 2020, and there will be several. 2018 was clearly the “Year of the Women II” mimicking huge gains by women in both houses of Congress, as they did in 1992. Remember, there are more women in the population than men, and women also vote in greater numbers. Of course, women don’t all vote Democrat, and in fact the so-called gender gap is not as big as perceived. Women have made significant gains in both parties. But, there is a palpable hunger I see out there for the U.S. to elect its first woman president. That’s a huge wild card factor.

“Booker’s a Looker” – Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey) is considered one of the most liberal members of the U.S. Senate. He’s been in office six years, after serving nearly eight years as the Mayor of Newark, New Jersey. If he wins, Booker would be the second African-American president. He’s a Rhodes Scholar, and at age 49, would be viable for several presidential election cycles to come. With ten Democrats already in the race, and more coming, anyone can win this nomination. We are 18 months from having a nominee and it’s wide open.

“All’s Well that Ends Weld” – It’s not just Democrats jumping in the presidential hot tub. The first official primary challenger to President Trump has announced. Former Governor William “Bill” Weld (R-Massachusetts) will run. In 2016, Weld was the Libertarian Party’s Vice-Presidential running mate to Presidential nominee, former Gov. Gary Johnson (R-New Mexico). Weld was a two-term governor, who left office after President Clinton nominated him to be Ambassador to Mexico. Weld was a liberal Republican, who shared many ideological positions with Democrats. Senator Jesse Helms (R-North Carolina), was not a Weld fan and blocked him from ever being confirmed. Weld is 73 and could prove to be a real thorn in President Trump’s side during the 2020 primary. Expect other Republicans such as former Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio), to jump in, too.

“Don’t Thump Trump” – If you listen to the news any given day, there is this air of certainty that Donald Trump will be a one-term president. It’s as if it’s already a done deal. To my Democrat friends I say, don’t buy it. Overconfidence was the downfall of Hillary Clinton’s campaign in 2016, and in 2008. You can’t run on the assumption you’re the inevitable winner. It’s not just overconfidence, it’s rank arrogance, and in both races it did her in. One of the smartest moves some of the lesser known Democrats might try, is to run as the underdog. I mean look what it did for Bernie Sanders in 2016. President Trump will be formidable in 2020 and has a strong core base of support. People who underestimate him (like most of his 2016 primary foes), often lose.

“The ‘X’ Factor?” – My gut tells me to watch the generational differences in the Democratic Party. The 2020 primary will be a litmus test of whether this is the party of the past (Biden, Sanders), or is it the party of the future (Harris, Gabbard, O’Rourke, Booker)?

Who are you backing in the 2020 presidential race? Just click the comment button on this Patch article or send comments to me at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2019, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia and the five surrounding states, including much of the Washington, D.C. media market.

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

Not All Emergencies Need a 911 Call – “Sunday Political Brunch” - February 17, 2019

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. – President Trump has declared a national emergency at the Southern Border with Mexico. This after the House of Representatives, led by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) California, declined to give the Mr. Trump $5.7 billion dollars for a more complete border wall. There are winners and losers around. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“Trump Response” – President Trump declared the state of emergency after Congress granted him $1.37 billion for his proposed border wall, after he requested $5.7 billion. That’s just 24-percent of his original request. To close the gap, Trump plans to redirect some funding from the Pentagon for the wall. “We have an invasion of drugs and criminals coming into our country,” President Trump said.

“Democrats Response” – Democratic leaders, not surprisingly, were dismayed. “This is plainly a power grab by a disappointed president, who has gone outside the bounds of the law to try to get what he failed to achieve in the constitutional legislative process,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the Minority Leader, in a joint press release. Democrats are likely to file a lawsuit (and for an injunction in federal court) to stop any further wall construction. The argument is that Congress has the “power of the purse” and President Trump is violating the separation of powers spelled out in the U.S. Constitution. You can see this going all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

“The Glass: Half Empty, or Half Full?” – I interviewed Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) this week after President Trump agreed on a Congressional spending plan to keep the government open but settled for just $1.37 billion for the border wall this year. Capito, who helped negotiate the deal, spun it as a win for Trump. "And what we have here is very robust funding for the border wall. We also have robust funding for our border patrol agents, to hire more, and, also for the technology. I think this is a win. It was painful to try to reach a negotiated settlement. So, nobody is exceedingly happy and getting everything that they want. But that's what you do. You try to meet the middle ground or the sweet spot," Senator Capito said.

“An Interesting Perspective” – As I have mentioned here often, I believe in a diverse media diet. My regular daily news consumption includes CNN.com, NPR, several local and statewide media websites in West Virginia, my own company’s TV stations’ websites, and talk radio – including Rush Limbaugh. My goal is a wide variety of viewpoints. I thought Limbaugh’s take this week was spot on. Yes, the president only got a fraction of his funding, but partial border wall construction will be ongoing this year, and in the 2020 reelection year. There will likely be many news stories and lots of video of wall construction. No, President Trump did not get all he wanted, but he’ll have some powerful images of a promise partially kept in an election year.

“Advantage, All!” – Both political parties win in this latest compromise. Why? Well, there’s no government shutdown. The images of the Smithsonian Museums beings closed, or the fact that TSA workers at the airport and air traffic controllers were working without pay, is an unseemly picture. Yes, they all got back pay. But the video of government employees out of work, and agencies closed, dominated the headlines. By keeping the government open, both sides can debate the merits or demerits of the wall, without other distracting issues dominating the news coverage.

“The Carter Kiss” – Hey, on a lighter political note, Valentine’s Day occurred this past week.
Among the romantic couples, former President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter. They’ve been married 73 years. They attended an Atlanta Hawks basketball game, and as luck would have it they were caught by the infamous “Kiss Camera” that pans the crowd for romantic couples, and suggests they kiss for a broadcast on the arena jumbotron TV. The Carters are good sports, and graciously obliged with a Valentine’s Day smooch to the delight of the crowd. Jimmy is 94 and Rosalynn is 91. God bless them!

What are your thoughts on the wall deal and the effort to prevent another government shutdown? Just click the comment button on this article or click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving all of West Virginia and its five surrounding states, including much of the Washington, D.C. television market.

© 2019 MarkCurtisMedia, LLC

Photo courtesy Getty Images

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