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“The Sunday Political Brunch”—December 4, 2016

Sunday, December 04, 2016


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 http://www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.


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