Sunday Political Brunch—Will Florida Mark the End of Trump Presidency? - August 20, 2017
Sunday, August 20, 2017
Mark Curtis, GoLocalPDX Contributor
The “brunch” is on the road for the next two weeks, assessing what’s going on in the politics of some key states. Those states might decide the fates and fortunes of the Trump Presidency and the Republican-led Congress in 2018 and 2020, so let’s “brunch” on that this week:
“As Florida Goes; So, Goes the Nation” – The Sunshine State is becoming a bellwether of American politics, not only a key battleground for the White House, but for Congressional influence as well. In the last ten Presidential elections, Florida has been on the losing side only once. Now, as the third most populous state, with 29 Electoral College votes, it’s a kingmaker.
“The First Test” – The 2018 midterm Congressional elections will indeed be the first litmus test of Donald Trump’s Presidency. It will be the first time that voters nationwide will get to vote up or down on House and Senate candidates, in part based on their support of Trump. Republicans are strongly targeting six U.S. Senate seats, including the one occupied by Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL). Governor Rick Scott (R-FL) is term-limited and may run for the Senate. Some polls show Nelson with a big lead for now; while other polls are much closer. Other candidates are in, too, so this could be a big fight.
“20/20 Vision” – I am all but certain that President Trump will face a challenge for re-nomination in 2020. The first name that comes to mind is that of Governor John Kasich (R-OH). Kasich is termed-out and has just over a year left as Ohio Governor. He was never a Trump guy. Even after many in the GOP begrudgingly supported their nominee, Kasich did not. He didn’t even attend the Republican National Convention, which was held in Cleveland. Kasich is one of a few prominent Republicans on the national stage who will be able to say, “See! I told you so!” He has a long resume and could carry the key swing state of Ohio. Keep an eye on him.
“Internal Party Fights” – In my lifetime, four sitting Presidents faced internal party fights when they were up for re-nomination. Their opponents are in parentheses: Lyndon Johnson (Senator Eugene McCarthy, Senator Robert Kennedy, and others); Gerald Ford (Governor Ronald Reagan); Jimmy Carter (Senator Ted Kennedy); and George H.W. Bush (Pat Buchanan). In each case, the incumbent either dropped out or lost in the general election. Primary fights are expensive and bruising. And when party members can’t rally around an incumbent, that makes independent voters more likely to bolt, as well. An internal party challenge to President Trump in 2020 seems probable.
“Marco Rubio” – Since we are in Florida and talking about a potential nomination challenge to President Trump, I must mention some possible Sunshine State candidates. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) ran for President in 2016 and was crushed. But in 2020, he’ll be in his second U.S. Senate term, and will still be just 49 years old. Of Cuban decent from South Florida, he will have huge appeal in the all-important Hispanic demographic, not just in Florida, but nationwide. He has already condemned President Trump’s confusing and seemingly contradictory remarks about the events in Charlottesville, Virginia, so Rubio may be planning another White House bid.
“Jeb Bush” – Former Governor Jeb Bush (R-FL) may be making plans for another White House bid soon, as well. Former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush issued strong anti-racism statements this week; and while they did not mention President Trump or his comments directly, there appeared to be implied criticism of Trump's response to the incidents in Charlottesville. Look! It’s no secret that members of the powerful Bush family are not fans of Trump. The elder Bushes may be urging Jeb towards another Presidential run.
“The Florida Melting Pot” – People have often asked me whether the Southern states vote in a block; and for many years, my answer was “Yes.” Why has Florida now bucked the trend? Yes, Florida is still very Southern, but with an influx of millions of people from New York and the Northeast along the I-95 corridor and with so many Midwesterners along the I-75 corridor, it is truly a state of many diverse people, cultures, and voices. Florida is beholden to neither political party.
“Trump’s Not Done” – I’ve had many people tell me in the past week that the Trump Presidency is over and simply can’t recover from the latest controversies. I disagree. Incumbency is a powerful asset, and being the current occupant of the White House is an advantage never to be discounted. To be sure, Trump is his own worst enemy. The constant provocative tweeting and then the mixed messages on Charlottesville do not serve him well. But neither did the crude “Access Hollywood” tapes, and Trump still won the election. Folks, it’s August, 2017; and we are a long, long way from November, 2020. A lot can happen between now and then.
Do you think President Trump is finished, or does his Presidency still have legs? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com.