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Everyone’s Jumping in the Presidential Hot Tub - Sunday Political Brunch January 27, 2019

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. – We suddenly have several Democrats announcing bids for the White House in 2020, including a couple of folks I know. Others have merely formed “exploratory committees” meaning they are leaning towards a run. The field is crowded, and I bet will balloon to around 20 by the time Iowa and New Hampshire are ripe for visiting. Let’s “brunch” about those in so far and find out more about them.

“Lots of Gab About Gabbard” – 37-year-old Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D) Hawaii, is the youngest to jump in so far, but that’s probably not a big disadvantage. She’s been in Congress for six years, and before that served in the Honolulu City Council. She was born in in American Samoa, and yes, that makes her a native-born citizen. She practices the Hindu faith and served 16 years in the Army on active duty, and now in the Hawaii National Guard. Her dad is a long-time member of the Hawaii State Senate. While Hawaii does not offer a huge political or media launching pad, she has generated a lot of buzz and national press in Washington, DC. She’s not someone I had predicted would run for the White House, at least not yet.

“No, NOT that Castro!” – On the other hand, one person I did pick for a run at the White House was former San Antonio Mayor and U.S. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Julian Castro. Like Gabbard, Castro is still very young at age 44. But he comes with lots of experience. Prior to being Mayor of San Antonio, he served on the City Council a number of years and has a dozen years in elected or appointed political office. He has degrees from Harvard and Stanford and his twin brother is Rep. Joaquin Castro, (D) Texas. There was speculation Joaquin might run for president, but it’s hard to imagine both. They are no relation to the political Castros of Cuba.

“California Kamala” – I got to know Kamala Harris when she served as District Attorney in San Francisco where I was a reporter for a decade. The 54-year-old lawyer rocketed from there to Attorney General of California, and then on to the U.S. Senate in 2016. Her name is often mispronounced: it’s KOM-uh-luh, not kuh-MAL-uh. She is mixed race, of Indian and Jamaican decent. Harris is close to Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) California, who is also considering a White House bid someday, but perhaps not 2020. Stay tuned.

“Richard Ojeda” – He’s not well-known nationally just yet, but former State Senator Richard Ojeda (D) West Virginia, is also a declared candidate. Ojeda, age 48, was in his first four-year Senate term, but resigned shortly after losing a West Virginia Congressional race. He’s a fierce, fiery, combative public speaker who President Trump called, “a wacko,” and “stone-cold crazy” during the Congressional campaign (even though Ojeda voted for Trump in 2016). Ojeda was out-front during the West Virginia teachers strike in 2018, and the efforts to legalize medical cannabis in the Mountain State. He’s very popular among the followers of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I) Vermont. He’s a decorated, retired U.S. Army veteran. Editor's note: Late Friday January 25, Ojeda dropped out of the race.

“No Delaying Delaney” – Former Rep. Joe Delaney (D) Maryland, was the first Democrat to announce a presidential campaign, doing so in July 2017. Delaney served three terms in the U.S. House, after successfully launching two very successful business ventures. Educated at Columbia and Georgetown, the 55-year-old Delaney is a New Jersey native who represented the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. while in Congress.

“Warren Peace” – Certainly a favorite of a lot of progressive Democrats, is Senator Elizabeth Warren (D) Massachusetts. The 69-year-old native of Oklahoma is now serving her second term representing the Bay State. She also served a few years in the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau following the financial and real estate market meltdowns of 2008. Like Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Warren is something of a pinata for conservatives who love to mention both names at rallies, which leads to a chorus of boos. Warren draws support from the “Bernie Sanders wing” of the party, so if he runs again, they may neutralize each other’s support.

“Kirsten’s NY Brand” – Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D) New York has served a dozen years in Congress, ten in the Senate and two in the House. The 52-year-old did her undergraduate work at Dartmouth, with law degree from UCLA. She differs from many of her progressive counterparts, having identified as a conservative “Blue Dog Democrat,” especially on fiscal issues. Being from a state holding among the most Electoral College votes, she should be considered a serious contender.

So those are the first seven Democrats to declare candidacy or form an exploratory committee. Do you have a favorite? Click the comment button on my Patch.com article or message me at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

© 2019 Mark Curtis Media, LLC.

Mark Curtis Ed.D., is the Chief Political Reporter for the five Nexstar Media TV stations serving West Virginia, five surrounding states, and much of the Washington, D.C. television market. He writes weekly for The White House Patch.

Photo Courtesy: Mark Curtis Media

A Political Hodge-Podge of Government Shutdown Stuff -- Sunday Political Brunch January 20, 2019

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CHARLESTON, W. Va. – This has been a weird week in politics, but what week isn’t? Yet, this has exceeded the “outer limits” on both sides of the aisle. Once again, they are playing, “Tit for Tat politics,” in Washington, D.C. Can anyone get anything done? Let’s “brunch” on that this week!

“Pelosi, ‘No State of the Union!’” – The week began with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D) California saying, "Sadly, given the security concerns and unless government re-opens this week, I suggest we work together to determine another suitable date after government has re-opened for this address or for you to consider delivering your State of the Union address in writing to the Congress on January 29." To cut through the diplomatic BS here, she is saying, “Don’t come to the Capitol for a State of the Union Address.” In other words, “You’re not invited!”

“Trump, ‘No Federal Aircraft for the Speaker!’” – In apparent retaliation for the blocking of a State of the Union Address, President Trump responded, “Due to the Shutdown, I am sorry to inform you (Speaker Pelosi), that your trip to Brussels, Egypt, and Afghanistan has been postponed. We will reschedule this seven-day excursion when the Shutdown is over. In light of the 800,000 great American workers not receiving pay, I am sure you would agree that postponing this public relations event is totally appropriate.” Ouch!!!

“Why MOST People Hate Politics” – I LOVE politics! Most people don’t share my avocation! I get that. I love the give and the take, the deal making, the camaraderie and, yes, the bruising fights. Our system is built – with brilliance by the Founding Fathers – to have conflicts within the three branches of government. But, we cut deals, we accommodate, we horse trade – and yes, it gets tawdry and ugly sometimes – but stuff gets done! However, people hate the pettiness. The Speaker blocking the President’s State of the Union Address? The President telling the House Speaker to fly commercial? This is like fifth-graders in a school cafeteria food fight.

“Almost Heaven, West Virginia; Build a Fence Now, Rio Grande River!” – With sincere apologies, and all due respect to the late, great singer John Denver, West Virginia’s state song may be changing. This week, three Republicans members of the state’s House of Delegates proposed that West Virginia – which is seeing a big budget surplus – pledge $10 million to help build the wall President Trump wants along the Mexican border. It created such a buzz, it became national news. For now, my prediction is that it goes nowhere. It was a great publicity coupe and put some young lawmakers on the front burner. But, my gut says most West Virginians want West Virginia tax dollars spent on West Virginia problems.

“Plane Crashes! What Plane Crashes?” – I was chastised by a reader for my off-hand comments about the minimal impact of the government shutdown. I was greeted with comments such as, “What about the chaos at airports with the TSA and air traffic controllers?” Well, yes, both groups are not being paid. But despite the protests of some, most are showing up for work knowing they will be paid retroactively (the order has already been signed). Believe me, I sympathize with folks who’ve not had a paycheck for a month now, and the strain that can put on a family. I’ve been there. But airport chaos and plane accidents have just not happened.

“The Silly Season” – I’ve met a lot of political legends in my four decades of covering politics. Perhaps the most astute political analyst in the bunch, was the late, long-time Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci. Love him or not – and there are plenty on both sides – but the man had a political knack of being able to, “See around corners,” as I so often say. He called campaign season, “The Silly Season,” because people would say or do just about anything to get elected, as crazy as it might be. But the election season is over, and it seems like the legislative calendar has now become the “Silly Season!” Stay tuned to see if it gets better or worse.

Who do you think is winning in this latest political tug-of-war, President Trump or the Democrat run House? Just click the comment button on this page or click the comment button 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 a large portion of the Washington, D.C television market.

Photo courtesy: Getty Images

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