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“A Summer of Political Drama Heads to Fall” - Sunday Political Brunch - September 9, 2018

Sunday, September 09, 2018


Mark Curtis

As summer fades to autumn (and my vacation fades back into the workplace), it’s time to assess some of the big political developments that could have an impact at the ballot box come November 6th. A lot is happening both inside and outside of the beltway. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“Florida on My Mind” – I was in the Sunshine State for the Florida primary for governor and there is a lot to chew on from the results. Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Florida), is leaving Congress after three terms, as he easily won the Republican nomination for governor. The big drama was on the Democratic side of the aisle where Mayor Andrew Gillum (D-Tallahassee) scored an upset primary win over former Rep. Gwen Graham, (D-Florida). Graham is the daughter of former Governor and Senator Bob Graham, (D-Florida). Gillum is a progressive, whereas Graham (like her dad) was the more centrist candidate. This is the same internal fight Democrats have faced in many other states. It’s a fight for the future direction of a party divided.

“Monkey Business” – Congressman DeSantis did himself no favors the day after he won the gubernatorial primary. “The last thing we need to do is to monkey this up by trying to embrace a socialist agenda with huge tax increases and bankrupting the state,” DeSantis said. Since his opponent Mayor Andrew Gillum is black, many viewed the “monkey this up” reference as racist. In looking at the entirety of the DeSantis interview, I don’t believe he meant it that way. On the other hand, it is easy to see how the “monkey” reference could be misconstrued. DeSantis is guilty of an incredible lapse in judgment over his choice of words. What on Earth was he thinking?

“A Senate Rocket Ride” – All of a sudden, one of the hottest U.S. Senate races in the nation is now in Florida. Sen. Bill Nelson, (D-Florida), was polling well against Gov. Rick Scott (R-Florida), but now the tables have turned. A recent Gravis Poll has the two men dead-even at 47 percent a piece. Many polls over the past year had Nelson with a small but steady lead. All that’s gone now, and Scott is leading slightly in some polls. The Governor’s race could have an impact, and remember, this is a state President Trump won in 2016. Florida is truly a “purple” state, so this one could go either way.

“Arizona” – By sheer coincidence, Arizona was hosting a primary election last week in the wake of Sen. John McCain’s death. The primary was scheduled long ago and had the important distinction of picking nominees to replace Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Arizona) who is not seeking re-election. Rep. Martha McSally, (R-Arizona) won a convincing primary against some far more conservative opponents. McSally, a retired Air Force fighter pilot, will face fellow Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona).

“The Kyl File” – Former Sen. Jon Kyl, (R-Arizona) is back. He will fill out the remaining two years of John McCain’s term. This is significant for several reasons. First, Kyl is a consensus choice in what could have been a nasty fight. The White House likes him, the U.S. Senate leadership likes him, and John McCain’s family deeply respects and loves him. He will be a “yes” vote on Brett Kavanaugh for the U.S. Supreme Court. And with that he takes away the prospect of a maverick Senate appointee voting against the Trump pick, Kavanaugh. Well played by all sides on what could have been a potential disaster.

“Oklahoma, Where the Wind Comes Sweepin’” – There were no big surprises in the third primary in the last week, that being in Oklahoma – a reliably red state. But, here’s something to keep an eye on. There were several teachers strikes in states across the nation this year, most notably in West Virginia where the trend began. Oklahoma teachers walked out for nine days inspired by the 5-percent pay raises that were won in West Virginia. On primary night in Oklahoma, six legislators who voted against a pay raise were voted out of office. Keep an eye on this developing trend, especially in states with teacher-labor disputes.

“Kavanaugh Will Win” – There is no mystery here. Judge Brett Kavanaugh will be the next Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. And I predict it will happen so fast, that he will be on the bench when the high court convenes on October 1, 2018. The bigger issue to watch is how the voters cross party lines, especially in red states where Democratic Senators are in tough re-election fights. Keep an eye on Sen. Joe Donnelley, (D-Indiana); and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, (D-North Dakota), as well as Sen. Jon Tester, (D-Montana), and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia).

What are your predictions about campaign 2018? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

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


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