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A Topsy-Turvy Week of Political Hodge-Podge - Sunday Political Brunch - August 19, 2018

Sunday, August 19, 2018

 

Mark Curtis

Wow! What a weird week in politics. We had four state primaries, and all kinds of Washington tumult, plus our ongoing attempt in West Virginia to impeach the entire State Supreme Court. It’s a topsy-turvy hodge-podge! Let’s “brunch” on that this week!

“Vermont Transgender” – It certainly is an unusual election year, and we are in for some potential firsts. In Vermont, the first transgender person to ever be nominated for a state governorship in the nation is Christine Hallquist (D-VT). She’ll face incumbent Gov. Phil Scott (R-VT) in in November. Maybe it’s the Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner phenomenon, but people tend to look past the gender thing these days in favor of perceived competency.

“Minnesota, Not So Nice” – In 2012 two-term Gov. Tim Pawlenty, (R-MN) ran for president on the slogan that he was, “Minnesota nice.” It’s didn’t work, and Mitt Romney was the party’s nominee. Pawlenty moved on to Washington, D.C. to be a banking lobbyist, but suddenly returned to the Gopher State this year to run for Governor again. He’s a moderate, not popular with the Trump White House. Tuesday night, Pawlenty lost the primary saying, “The Republican Party has shifted. It is the era of Trump, and I’m just not a Trump-like politician.”

“West Virginia Supremes” – It is one of the most jaw-dropping events I’ve covered in my 42 years in working in mass media. On Monday the West Virginia House of Delegates impeached the four remaining members of the State Supreme Court, after the fifth justice quit last month. The following day, another justice retired. Now the remaining three face a Senate impeachment trial next month. The reason? Over three-million dollars in lavish renovations and furnishings to their personal office in the capitol, including the now-infamous $32,000 blue suede couch in the office of suspended Justice Allen Loughry, who is also under a 25-count federal criminal indictment. Wow, wow, wow!

“Pink Wave” – They call it the “pink wave” perhaps because it is happening in both the blue and red parties. Record numbers of women running and winning this year. In governors’ races, 11 of the major party nominees this year are women. Right now, only 6 women are governors, so look for some gains. There was also a record number of 476 women running for seats in the U.S. House of Representatives this year, and 184 have been nominated – again, the highest number in history. Look for big gains in November.

“Omorosa” – Why is this disgruntled ex-White House, ex-Apprentice employee news? Yes, like a train wreck it’s interesting to watch and hard to turn away. But there are a lot of critical issues facing the nation right now from the opioid crisis, to trade tariffs, to immigration problems. Omorosa hardly seems worthy of all the air time, but as a creature of reality TV culture (as fueled by Trump), it’s not a surprise. Word late in the week that Trump campaign operatives may have offered her “hush money” after she was fired will ratchet up the coverage. Trump only makes it worse by tweeting about it daily.

“Inside Baseball?” – There was a lot of clamor this week about former CIA Director John Brennan having his security clearance pulled by President Trump on Wednesday. Having been a reporter for six years in Washington, D.C., I always referred to these stories as “inside baseball.” Yes, it’s a big deal in the nation’s capital, but beyond the beltway nobody really cares. Another protected bureaucrat has lost some key privileges, but how does this matter to a struggling family in Kansas trying to make ends meet and save for their kids to maybe go to college? It doesn’t. But you watch the network news, and you’d think we were in nuclear war.

“John McCain” – President Trump and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) have had some sharp differences and have traded plenty of barbs. Trump even once questioned whether the former Vietnam War POW was a hero. This week, Trump traveled to New York to sign the “John McCain Defense Authorization Act of 2018,” yet he never even mentioned the heroic senator by name or praised his service. McCain, who is dying of brain cancer, was not there. The Trump slight of McCain – who is beloved and respected by Democrats and Republicans alike - was shameful. Maybe one of the lowest points in Trump’s presidency. It’s one thing to disagree on policy, but another matter to disrespect the heroic service of a great American.

“The Trump Factor?” – One of the big factors this November will be the so-called “Trump Factor.” In short, he may help candidates in states where he is popular; but may tank in states where he is despised. In Kansas, Trump backed Secretary of State Kris Kobach (R-KS) in the race for governor, over incumbent Gov. Jeff Colyer R-KS). Kobach won by just 345 votes at last count. Colyer was more of a moderate, while Kobach was a hardline advocate against illegal immigration. Was the Trump endorsement the deal maker for Kobach? Hard to say when the margin is that close, but it helped him unseat the incumbent governor.

What races are you watching in 2018? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

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

 

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