“The Sunday Political Brunch”—March 12, 2017

Sunday, March 12, 2017
Mark Curtis, GoLocal Contributor

Mark Curtis
I’ve had a lot of comments and messages in the last week regarding the Democratic Party response to President Trump’s joint address to Congress last week. Many of my readers wondered about the choice of former Governor Steve Beshear (D-KY), who gave the response. I think it’s a fair issue for discussion, so let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“Bashing Beshear” – I’ll be honest; I thought it was an odd choice. Steve Beshear is 72 years old and a long-time Kentucky politico, who has served in various public offices since the 1970s. He was termed-out in 2016, after serving eight years as Governor. I have a lot of viewers and readers in Kentucky, so I want to make this clear: I am not criticizing Governor Beshear or his message. But isn’t he more about his party’s past, rather than its future? Actually, the answer might be a bit of both as you read on.

“Boosting Beshear” – Okay, don’t anyone accuse me of ageism, but I have a fascinating question: Why didn’t they choose Governor Beshear’s son? Andy Beshear came into office as Attorney General (D-KY) the same day his dad left office. The younger Beshear has been brash and has made headlines for successfully taking on some of the initiatives of new Governor Matt Bevin (D-KY). At the age of 39, Andy Beshear is certainly one of the faces of the future for the Democratic Party both locally and nationally. He has a long road ahead.

“Bench Strength” – I raise the issue of the Democratic Party’s future because Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is 75; former Vice President Joe Biden is 74; and former Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) is 69. As popular as each one once was, does any of them have the stamina for another Presidential run in 2020? Maybe; maybe not. The party has been widely criticized for not developing a “bench” much like a football or basketball franchise. The party’s future lies more with an Andy Beshear than with a Steve Beshear, and there are others of his generation we should discuss.

“Oh, No! Another Cuomo” – One of the potential Presidential candidates to keep an eye on is Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY). As a practical matter, any time you can get a Democratic candidate from New York or California (or a Republican from Texas or Florida), you potentially secure a huge chunk of Electoral College votes. Yes, his dad was the late Governor Mario Cuomo (D-NY), but Andrew has compiled a long resume of his own. In the past 24 years, he has served in the Clinton cabinet and as New York Attorney General, before becoming Governor. At 59, he’s viable for at least the next two or three election cycles.

“West Coast Boast” – As mentioned, California remains a big electoral prize for Democrats. Right now, Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom (D-CA) is the odds-on favorite to become Governor in 2018. I’ve known and covered him for the past twenty years. Yes, he’s had some scandal; but, at age 49, a lot of that is behind him. If he’s a successful Governor (and a potential replacement for Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA), he has quite a long political future ahead. He’s the architect of legalizing same-sex marriage in the United States, which could cut both ways politically. Keep him on your radar screen (photo with former President Clinton above).

“Don’t Duck Duckworth” – Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) is an authentic American war hero. She lost both legs and much of the use of her right arm in 2004, when the Army helicopter she was piloting during the Iraq War was shot down. When she came back stateside, she lost her first race for Congress in 2006. She was appointed at both the state and federal levels to work in veterans' affairs jobs before winning two terms in the U.S. House beginning in 2012 and then being elevated to the Senate in 2016. As a 49-year-old Asian-American with a base in a big Electoral College state, she’s a legitimate White House contender for the next 20 years.

“Castro Brothers; No, Not Those Castros” – I’ve written about them before, and they are worth keeping on your radar. Julian Castro was the Mayor of San Antonio for five years, before being named Secretary of Housing and Urban Development in the Obama administration. His twin brother Joaquin has just started his third term in the House of Representatives. The Castro brothers are 42 years old, so they have decades of political viability. Their only downside might be their seeming inability to carry the solid red state of Texas, but these young men are on a definite watch list for national viability.

“Why All of This Matters?” – I found the Steve Beshear response to President Trump jarring – not from a political policy standpoint, but rather from a party’s strategic standpoint. Steve Beshear is part of his party’s past; his son Andy is part of the party’s future. Many of the other younger candidates I’ve spoken of here are also part of their party’s future. It’s about building a bench. Let’s face it: The 2020 Presidential campaign began November 9, 2016 – the day after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States.

Who is your Presidential candidate in 2020? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.

  • Jennifer Duffy

    Cook Report

    "We don't really know what a Trump presidency means for the nation, never mind the smallest state.  One of the unintended consequences of last night's results is that Sen. Jack Reed won't be chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.  Chalk that up as a loss for RI."

  • Pam Gencarella

    Head of Ocean State Taxpayers' Association

    "Trump’s win means that his signature issue, illegal immigration, could have a big impact on RI, hopefully reversing our course as a sanctuary state and saving the state taxpayer millions of dollars.  While we agree with his 'repeal and replace' Obamacare stance, we have no idea what that means to the RI debacle known as UHIP.  It is not a stretch to believe that federal funding for this kind of system will be off the table so, will RI be stuck with this massively expensive system that still doesn’t work and that is expected to cost another $124 million to fix?  

    Trump's belief that there is significant fraud in the Food Stamp program and the policies that may come from that belief could have a negative impact on RI's local economy since there are businesses in certain cities that rely heavily on this program, fraud and all. On the upside, we may be able to ditch the UHIP program if there is significantly less need for processing welfare program requests (ie. Medicaid and food stamps) resulting from fewer illegal immigrants and less fraud.  While we are ambivalent about his touted child care policies, if enacted, it may force our legislators to revisit the ever growing state cost of subsidies in this area and possibly reduce the fraud and abuse in this system." 

  • Kay Israel

    Professor at Rhode Island College

    "With a Republican President and Congress, Rhode Island will probably be excluded from the 'fruits of victory."  

    The congressional delegation will be able to vocally make their presence felt, but in the long term it's more symbolic than substantive.  

    For Rhode Island it's a matter of holding on and waiting until '18 or '20 and a surge in Democratic influence."

  • Jennifer Lawless

    Professor at American University

    "The RI congressional delegation just became even less powerful than it was. With unified government, Trump doesn’t need to quell Democrats’ concerns or acquiesce because he’s worried about a Democratically-controlled Senate.

    His appointments will reflect that. His executive orders will affect that. And the conservative policy agenda he puts forward will affect that."

  • Len Lardaro

    Professor at University of Rhode Island

    "Well there's a few things -- because there's not going to be gridlock, that's a big difference if it had been Hillary and a GOP Congress, in which nothing would got done. We'll at least get a half a billion in infrastructure that's going to pass which will have an impact.

    I think you'll see there will be reduced reliance on government nationally -- and that's where we'll stick out like sore thumb. We've relied way too much on government -- and our government is highly inefficient and ineffective.  Maybe, just maybe, in this who cycle of things we might be forced to be small and more efficient for once.

    A couple of other things -- interest rates jumped. The one to follow is the ten year government bond rate -- which is tied to mortgages. It went from 1.7% to 2.05% in one day. The point is -- if the ten year stays high, mortgage rates will start going higher -- and in the short time people will run to re-finance. 

    That's the short term impact -- but then if rates stay hight, that will make mortgages more out of reach. And we just passed a bond issue to limit open space -- housing has limited upside here.
    The next thing -- the Fed Reserve will go ahead with tightening next month. A strong dollar will hurt manufacturing. When the dollar is strong our exports become more expensive overseas. 

    Our goods production sector -- manufacturing and construction -- in the near term will do a little better, but as time goes on will be more limited. But something you won't hear, is there are lags in fiscal policy, of six months to year. So we won't really see the effects until the third our fourth quarter of 2017, going into 2018."

  • Mike Stenhouse

    RI Center for Freedon and Prosperity

    "As the unbelievable turned into reality this morning, it struck me that the presidential election was not really all about Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. It was about a fed-up people, revolting against a corrupt system - the "beast" - that relentlessly favors insiders. Hillary personified the beast, while Donald personified the slayer.

    Sadly, based on election results in our state, Rhode Island's version of the beast lives on. I fear our political class has not learned the lessons from the Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump movements - and will continue with their government-centric, anti-family, anti-business status quo."

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