On the Road Again on the Political Trail - The Sunday Political Brunch, April 15

Sunday, April 15, 2018
Mark Curtis, GoLocalProv Contributor

Mark Curtis
I'm on the road this week, including a trip on the nation's capitol. There were some fascinating political developments this week, including that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan will not seek reelection after 20 years in Congress. Let's "brunch" on that this week:

"Fellow Cheeseheads" - I've met and interviewed Paul Ryan during his time in public service. (He even waited on my table years ago at Tortilla Coast, when he worked as a waiter in Washington, D.C.) We are both Wisconsin natives. Trust me when I tell you this was - as he stated - primarily a family decision, and not a political snub aimed at President Trump. When Ryan was a teenager, his dad, age 55, died suddenly in his sleep and it left a profound effect on Paul. He was very publicly reluctant to become Speaker in 2015 because of the potential impact on his children, who are now entering their teens. He wants to be there for them.

"Politics is Always Part of the Equation" - Having noted his family concerns, no decision is ever made in Washington, that doesn't have a political element to it. Forget about his battles with Trump for a moment, and look at what may lie ahead for Paul Ryan. He's been Speaker; he's been the Vice Presidential nominee of his party; he was Chairman of the Ways and Means Committee; and, he was Chairman of the House Budget Committee. That's an amazing résumé, and he's only 48 years old. I have believed for a long time, that Ryan will run for President. Maybe not in 2020, or even 2024, but I bet he runs!

"Do the Math; and Show Your Work!" - How many times did you hear that phrase growing up? The nuns drilled it into me. As I've pointed our often in this column, Democrats have a huge disadvantage in the U.S. Senate. They are defending 23 seats, while the Republicans are defending only eight. At least five Democrats are very vulnerable, so the GOP could make gains. But the House is just the opposite. With Paul Ryan not running, it brings the total number of Republican retirees in the House to 40. Right now the Republicans have a 44 seat majority. Remember that incumbents in both parties generally get reelected 96 percent of the time. But when there is no incumbent, many seats become toss-ups. Democrats could wrestle control of the House this year.

"David Versus Goliath Races" - We have a fascinating Senate race in West Virginia. Senator Joe Manchin (D) West Virginia is in the political fight of his life. Three heavyweights are battling for the GOP nomination: U.S. Rep. Evan Jenkins, (R) WV; State Attorney General Patrick Morrisey, (R) WV; former coal executive Don Blankenship. The race also has three "dark" horse candidates, and one may be suddenly emerging from the back to upset the apple-cart. Business and military veteran Tom Willis describes himself to me in 17 seconds this week: "I come to the table with veterans experience. I have 18years in the West Virginia National Guard, serving as a Special Forces Green Beret. I am also the owner of this hotel, called the Glen Ferris Inn. It's a real jewel for West Virginia, 200 years of history. I'm a family man and a man of faith." He's running as an outsider and is suddenly generating lots of buzz. Keep an eye out!
"The Outsider's Advantage" -- The reason I cite Tom Willis, is that he represents a theme running through recent campaigns. Non-politicians, running against Washington, will be commonplace this year. That's how President Trump got there, and that's how others in both parties may get there as well. Even someone like Senator Bernie Sanders positioned himself as an "outsider" even though he's served in Congress for nearly three decades. The public is in a foul mood, and that could signal change.

"Sunshine Outsider" - Speaking of outsiders, Governor Rick Scott (R) Florida announced his run for U.S. Senate this week. Scott, who is term-limited, wants to take on Senator Bill Nelson, (D) Florida. Nelson has served in various political offices in the Sunshine State since 1972, including the last 18 on the U.S. Senate. While he was in the U.S. House, he flew on the Space Shuttle Columbia, one of only three sitting Members of Congress to take a space flight. By contrast, Scott was a wealthy businessman who'd never held political office until he became Governor - again, running as an outsider. What had been a safe Democratic seat, is now likely a toss-up.

"On the Rhode Again" - Part of my trip this week will take me to Rhode Island, where a huge political battle is brewing in the race for Governor. Incumbent Governor Gina Raimondo, (D) Rhode Island, will face a primary challenge. The Republicans are gearing up with a three-way primary now, but their field could grow. Then you mix in potential independent candidates and this could be a real mess. Raimondo won in 2014 with just 41 percent of the vote, to 36 percent for Republican Allen Fung, and Moderate Bob Healey, at 21 percent. This could be another Raimondo-Fung rematch, but the colorful Healey, passed away since the last election. As always, it's bare-knuckle politics in the nation's tiniest state.

What are your thoughts on these latest political developments? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

  • Sponsor: GoLocalProv

    Sample: N=403

    Rhode Island General Election Voters Margin of Error: +/- 4.9% at 95% Confidence Level

    Interviewing Period: October 9-11, 2017

    Mode: Landline (61%) and Mobile (39%)

    Telephone Directed by: John Della Volpe, SocialSphere, Inc.

  • Are you registered to vote at this address?

    Yes: 100%

  • When it comes to voting, do you consider yourself to be affiliated with the Democratic Party, the Republican Party, Moderate, or Unaffiliated with a major party?

    Unaffiliated: 49%

    Democrat: 32%

    Republican: 15%

    Moderate: .4%

  • Next year, in November of 2018, there will be a statewide general election for Governor and many other state offices. How likely is it that you will vote in this election?

    Will you definitely be voting, will you probably be voting, are you 50-50...

    Definitely be voting: 78%

    Probably be voting: 13%

    50-50: 9%

  • In general, would you say things in Rhode Island are headed in the right direction or are they off on the wrong track?

    Right track: 39%

    Wrong track: 45%

    Mixed: 10%

    Don't know/Refused: .6%

  • What would you say is the number one problem facing Rhode Island that you would like the Governor to address?

    Jobs and economy:  21%

    Education: 12%

    Taxes: 12%

    Roads: 12%

    State budget: 9%

    Corruption/Public integrity: .8%

    Healthcare: 3%

    Governor: 3%

    Homelessness: 2%

    Immigration: 2%

    Other: 7%

    Don’t know: .9%

  • Over the past three years or so, would you say the economy in Rhode Island has improved, gotten worse, or not changed at all?

    Changed for the better: 35%

    Changed for the worse: 16%

    Not changed at all: 43%

    Don't know/Refused: 5%

  • Over the same time, has your family's financial situation improved, gotten worse, or not changed at all?

    Changed for the better: 26%

    Changed for the worse: 19%

    Not changed at all: 54%

    Don't know/Refused: 1%

  • Recently, a proposal has been made to permit the issuance of $81 million in bonds by the State to build a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox. If there was an election today on this issue, would you vote to approve or reject issuing $81 million in financing supported moral obligation bonds to build the stadium?

    Net: Approve: 28%

    Definitely approve: 15%

    Probably approve: 14%

    Net: Reject: 67%

    Probably reject: 19%

    Definitely reject: 48%

    Don't know: 4%

  • Could you please tell me your age?

    18-24: 7%

    25-34: 15%

    35-44: 15%

    45-54: 20%

    55-64: 17%

    65+: 25%

    Don't know/refused: 1%

  • What was the last grade you completed in school?

    0-11: 2%

    High school grad: 16%

    Technical/Vocational school: 1%

    Some college: 23%

    College grad: 34%

    Graduate degree: 24%

    Don't know/refused: 1%

  • The next question is about the total income of YOUR HOUSEHOLD for the PAST 12 MONTHS. Please include your income PLUS the income of all members living in your household (including cohabiting partners and armed forces members living at home).

    $50,000 or less: 27%

    More $50,000 but less than $75,000: 13%

    More $75,000 but less than $100,000: 13%

    More $100,000 but less than $150,000: 17%

    $150,000 or more: 13%

    Don't know/refused: 17%

  • What particular ethnic group or nationality - such as English, French, Italian, Irish, Latino, Jewish, African American, and so forth - do you consider yourself a part of or feel closest to?

    American/None: 21%

    English: 13%

    Italian: 13%

    Irish: 12%

    Black or African American: 6%

    Latino/Hispanic: 6%

    French: 6%

    Portuguese: 3%

    Jewish: 3%

    German: 1%

  • Would you say that Donald Trump has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as President?

    Excellent: 13%
    Good: 12%
    Fair: 14%
    Poor: 57%
    Never heard of:  0%
    Cannot rate: 3%

  • Would you say that Jack Reed has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a United States Senator?

    Excellent: 22%
    Good: 29%
    Fair: 23%
    Poor: 15%
    Never heard of: 6%
    Cannot rate: 6%

  • Would you say that Sheldon Whitehouse has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a United States Senator?

    Excellent: 17%
    Good: 22%
    Fair: 21%
    Poor: 28%
    Never heard of: 6%
    Cannot rate: 7%

  • Would you say that David Cicilline has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a Member of Congress?

    Excellent: 9%
    Good: 29%
    Fair: 21%
    Poor: 27%
    Never heard of: 6%
    Cannot rate:  8%

  • Would you say that James Langevin has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as a Member of Congress?

    Excellent: 7%
    Good: 30%
    Fair: 20%
    Poor: 18%
    Never heard of: 13%
    Cannot rate: 11%

  • Would you say that Gina Raimondo has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Governor?

    Excellent: 6%
    Good: 28%
    Fair: 30%
    Poor: 31%
    Never heard of: 1%
    Cannot rate: 3%

  • Would you say that Daniel McKee has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Lieutenant Governor?

    Excellent: 3%
    Good: 16%
    Fair: 21%
    Poor: 8%
    Never heard of: 26%
    Cannot rate: 25%

  • Would you say that Peter Kilmartin has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Attorney General?

    Excellent: 3%
    Good: 20%
    Fair: 28%
    Poor: 17%
    Never heard of: 13%
    Cannot rate: 19%

  • Would you say that Seth Magaziner has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as General Treasurer?

    Excellent: 4%
    Good: 18%
    Fair: 24%
    Poor: 13%
    Never heard of: 21%
    Cannot rate: 21%

  • Would you say that Nellie Gorbea has done an excellent good, fair or poor job as Secretary of State?

    Excellent: 5%
    Good: 21%
    Fair: 21%
    Poor: 10%
    Never heard of: 20%
    Cannot rate: 23%



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