The Political “Purple Wave” of 2018—Sunday Political Brunch November 11, 2018

Sunday, November 11, 2018

 

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Mark Curtis

For months we’ve had predictions of a Democrat “Blue Wave” in 2018, and a Republican “Red Wave.” Well, how about both, given the mixed results? If the late musician Prince Rogers Nelson were still alive, he might re-tool his song to read, “Purple Wave, Purple Wave!” Let’s brunch on that this week.

“Senate Stays the Course” – While the final results are not in yet, it looks like we will see a U.S. Senate with 53 Republicans to 47 Democrats. That’s in line with the 2 or 3 seat GOP gain I have been predicting for weeks. It’s close now, but as of press time Arizona (leaning Democrat) and Mississippi (leaning Republican) are the two wild-card seats. If we split the difference, we get 53-R to 47-D.

“Who Has the Advantage?” – The Senate has a unique role in American politics. It has the sole authority to confirm or deny federal court appointments and treaties with foreign nations. The House gets no say. If there are more Supreme Court appointments and Cabinet picks (i.e., the replacement for Jeff Sessions as Attorney General), it should be a smooth ride for Republicans. This is huge. Yes, cabinet members only last until the administration ends, but federal court picks are lifetime appointments at the District Court, Court of Appeals, and yes, at the Supreme Court level. Trump – even if he only serves one term – could shape federal court rulings for a generation.

“The Ginsberg Factor” – Look, I hate this part of covering politics – the political circling of the vultures. Supreme Court Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg fell and broke a few ribs this past week. She’s 85 and has so far won her battle against cancer and heart disease. She’s a legal warrior and a tough human being. But, no one lives forever. If her health fails further, President Trump may have another Supreme Court pick. I can’t remember the last time a president had three picks just in the first term. President Reagan had three picks, but over two terms. Other presidents with multiple picks include Franklin Roosevelt with nine; Harry Truman with four; and Dwight Eisenhower with five.

“The House is a Louse!” – Again, as I predicted for weeks, the House will be in Democratic control for the first time in eight years. As of the latest Real Clear Politics count there are 225 Democrats, and 198 Republicans, with 12 House races still undecided. I didn’t do too bad on my prediction that the final count would be 221 to 214 in favor of Democrats.

“Who Has the Advantage Here?” – As with the Senate, the House has some unique powers, too. Since all revenue bills must begin in the House, Democrats will have a big say on the extension of many of the Trump tax cut legislation benefits. While some tax cuts were permanent, others providing middle and low-income tax relief will “sunset” after five years. Will there be extensions? Stay tuned!

“All Politics is Local” – The old favorite saying by U.S. House Speaker Tip O’Neill rings true all the time. The politics closest to you matters most, meaning your city council, school board, and county commission. But when you bump that up a notch, your Member of Congress is still a very locally-centric candidate compared to your U.S. Senator charged with representing the whole state. A switch in control of the U.S. House tells you that national issues aside – people are restless at the local and regional level. It’s a political alert on the radar screen that trouble may be brewing in the next election. So, 2018 could be a precursor for 2020.

“All Politics is Local – Chapter 2” – This week Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) won reelection after a bruising primary with Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R-WV). In the final weeks, Morrisey had three visits in West Virginia by President Trump, and one from Vice President Mike Pence. In a state where Trump beat Hillary Clinton by 42 percentage points in 2016, Manchin beat Morrisey by just 3.2 percentage points. You can probably attribute that to Manchin’s gift for retail politics in his 36-year political career. Shaking hands and kissing babies still matters in some places.

“Mr., I Mean Madame President” – Sorry to jump the gun to the next election. I confess to binge watching the final season of “House of Cards” with President Claire Underwood, I mean Claire Hale, now in charge. But in a world where “art imitates life” are we again on the verge of electing our first woman president? The list of names is growing: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA); Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA); Sen. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY), and, yes, even former Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) still in the mix. Across the aisle there’s U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley of South Carolina, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina, and former Gov. Susana Martinez (R-NM), among others.

“The Political Domino Effect”—I have long thought that after President Trump got rid of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the following scenario would occur. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) would be nominated to be Attorney General. With his senate seat vacated, Gov. McMaster (R-SC) would appoint Nikki Haley to the U.S Senate. It still could happen, but given Graham’s often sharp criticism of President Trump, it may not. Either way, keep your eyes on the rising political star of Nikki Haley. She’s not done yet!

“Why All of this Matters?” – No one likes to hear this. Yes, Election Day 2018 was November 6th. The start of Campaign 2020, began at sunrise on Wednesday, November 7, 2018. Let the games begin!

God Bless those who defend us this Veterans Day weekend, past present and future!!!

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

 

Related Slideshow: Big Winners and Losers in 2018 Election

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Winner

Landslide Mattiello

Speaker of the House Nick Mattiello fought off another vibrant challenge from Steve Frias to set up his effort to continue to control the most powerful political office in Rhode Island -- Speaker of the House.

Nicholas A. Mattiello (DEM)    3101    50.9%

Steven Frias (REP)                  2960    48.6%

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Winner

Democrats in East Greenwich

The top five vote-getters win seats on the East Greenwich Town Council.

Democrats swept the top five seats. It was a terrible night for the GOP in the affluent East Greenwich -- once a Republican hotbed.

Mark Schwager (DEM)              4153    14.1%

Michael P. Donegan (DEM)        3850    13.1%

Renu R. Englehart (DEM)          3716    12.6%

Michael J. Zarrella (DEM)          3302    11.2%

Caryn P. Corenthal (DEM)          3115    10.6%

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Winner

If at First, You Don’t Succeed

In 2016, Democrat Chris Milea lost narrowly -- just 90 votes to Republican Bob Lancia. This time revenge was sweet for Milea who is a close ally of Speaker of the House Nick Mattiello.

Christopher T. Millea (DEM)    2989    52.5%

Robert B. Lancia (REP)          2692    47.3%

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Winner

Progressive Win, GOP Loss

Progressive Democrat Justine Caldwell defeated small businessman and moderate incumbent Republican Antonio Giarrusso -- a candidate who was seen as a potential building block for Republicans.

District 30

Justine A. Caldwell (DEM)    3319    50.6%

Antonio Giarrusso (REP)    3237    49.3%

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Winner

Congressional Democrats and Senate Republicans

Big win for Nancy Pelosi and the House Democrats. They have regained the House, but may not by the margin they had hoped for. With Dems in control get ready for the subpoenas to start flying towards the White House.

But, in the Senate, the Republicans have picked up seats which make confirmation hearings all the easier for Trump and moderates like Maine Senator Susan Collins less relevant.

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Winner

Only GOP Bright Spot?

Former GOP State Senator Jack Lyle won the House seat in District 46 beating Representative Mary Ann Shallcross. Lyle once ran statewide as a GOP nominee as Secretary of State.

District 46

John W. Lyle, Jr. (REP)   2776    46.1%

Mary Ann Shallcross Smith (DEM)   2664  44.2%

John J. Cullen (Ind)   573   9.5%

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Winner

Governor Gina Raimondo

The victory was not a surprise -- the 15 point margin was. Now, she emerges as a player at the national level.

Her fundraising skills are unmatched in Rhode Island history. Now she has the potential of being in the discussion as a potential VP candidate or a replacement for Jack Reed in the future. 

Raimondo scored a big win and overcame big negatives.

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Loser

GOP Chairman Brandon Bell

The Republican Chair had a horrific night. He lost his bid for State Representative. His close political partner Steve Frias lost again to Speaker Nick Mattiello. The GOP lost all of the federal and state offices.

Alex D. Marszalkowski (DEM)    3583    58.5%

Brandon Scott Bell (REP)    2534    41.4%

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Loser

Keable Goes Down

House Judiciary Committee Chair and close ally to Speaker of the House Nick Mattiello, Cale Keable was defeated. Just ten days before the election reports that Keable had allegedly sexually harassed fellow State Representative Katherine Kazarian emerged.

He was suspended by his law firm. A GOP win.

Dictrict 47

David J. Place (REP)        2959    56.7%

Cale P. Keable (DEM)        2244    43.0%

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Loser

Susan Cicilline-Buonanno

She made national news when she was pulled over by Warwick police on national live TV.

Then, she announced she was withdrawing from the race.

Then, she refused to sign her withdrawal letter so she remained on the ballot.

Well, Narragansett voters ended the endless machinations - they knocked Cicilline-Buonanno of the town council. 

Top five vote-getters win seats -- Cicilline-Buonanno finished sixth.

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Loser

Joe Trillo

He created a distraction. Took GOP candidate Allan Fung functionally out of the race with constant attacks. 

Trillo dominated every debate. 

He claimed his "internal polling" had him with over 30 percent of the vote. In the end, he scored less than 5 percent of the vote.

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Loser

Building Trades

Mike Sabitoni has a great relationship with Governor Gina Raimondo and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, but the House of Representatives may be very frosty for the union boss.

After the PawSox stadium deal became a political football and the team announced it was moving to Worcester, Sabitoni decided to target Mattiello for defeat. Well, Mattiello lives.

 
 

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