Sunday Political Brunch: Who Will Be the First Female President? - September 17, 2017

Sunday, September 17, 2017
Mark Curtis, GoLocalWorcester Contributor

Mark Curtis
On her book tour this week 2016 Democratic Presidential Nominee Hillary Clinton said she would not be a candidate for office again, including another run at the White House. 2020 is still some ways away, so she always has the chance to change her mind. But, a lot of people have asked me in recent days who I think might be our first woman President. Let’s “brunch” on that this week:

“The Clinton Pass (Or Is It?”) – Politics is a “never say never” business. I have always thought there was an outside chance Hillary Clinton might make one last shot in 2020. But there are two things that must occur for that to happen. First, Democrats needs to make huge gains in the 2018 midterm elections. A significant changing of the tide in the House and Senate would be necessary, and, in fact, Democrats would have to seize control of one or both chambers. Second, the Trump Presidency would have to falter badly in two areas: the economy and national security. These developments would give Clinton the “I told you so” campaign theme she’d need. But if Trump is even modestly successful and the GOP holds control of Congress, she has no chance.

“Hail to Haley” – I wrote about Nikki Haley a few weeks ago, but her rising-star status bears repeating. Haley is now the tough-talking U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, often a springboard to bigger political ambitions. Her prominent, hard-liner stance against North Korea has made big headlines. Haley was a two-term Governor of South Carolina, and a state legislator before that. As an Indian-American, she is also a woman of color whch does not hurt in the modern political landscape. At some point she is the likely successor to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and that puts her on a glide-path for a potential Presidential run in 2020, 2024, or later. Haley is just 45-years-old and will be viable for several more election cycles.

“New York, New York” – You can never discount candidates who come from the nation’s most populous states, which are also rich in Electoral College votes. Keep your eye on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who is – like Nikki Haley – a rising star, albeit with Gillibrand in the Democratic Party. Gillibrand, who is now 50, was elected to two terms in the U.S. House and was something of a surprise choice to fill the U.S. Senate vacated when Hillary Clinton became Secretary of State. Gillibrand has chops, including knocking off a Republican incumbent to win her first House election. In upstate New York, that’s no small feat. Like Nikki Haley, the moderate Gillibrand is viable for several more Presidential election cycles.

“Feeling the Bern” – No, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) is not likely to run for President again – he’ll be 79 in 2020. But many people lay his progressive mantle in the lap of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). Warren is one of the closet ideological soulmates to Sanders, but that cuts both ways. It may gain her the Democratic Presidential nomination, but can a true-liberal progressive be elected President in 2020? My guess is that a more moderate Democrat has a better shot, but quite honestly the rule book of Presidential politics was kind of tossed out the window in 2016 with the election of President Trump and the strong showing by Senator Sanders. Warren could seize on that upheaval, disenchanted left-leaning voter base.

“Go West Young Man, (or Woman!) – If Elizabeth Warren is too liberal to be elected President, then Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers might be viewed as too conservative. Still, she is the highest-ranking woman in the House leadership, as Chair of the House Republican Conference (the fourth highest leadership post). She’s in her thirteenth year in Congress, and served many years in the Washington state legislature before that. She’s very popular amongst evangelical Christians, which can sometimes cut both ways. Her best shot may be as a Vice Presidential running-mate, but she does come from the State of Washington, a more liberal-leaning state than her district reflects.

“The Show-Me State” – Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO), is an interesting case study. Yes, she’s won two terms on the U.S. Senate, but her state has gone Republican in the Presidency in eight of the last ten elections. The only Democrat to win the “Show Me State” in modern history was neighboring Arkansan Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996. The other downside for McCaskill is a tough Senate race looming in 2018. She’s considered vulnerable, and on-the-bubble by many national political analysts (including me). And, if she loses her Senate race next year, a White House bid seems a long shot.

“The Others” – Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA): yes, a rising star; no, she’s not well-known. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN): she’s a sleeper, who if elected to a third Senate term in 2018, raises her stature. If you think Minnesota is Podunk, just remember the names Vice President Hubert Humphrey and Vice President Walter Mondale. Former Gov. Sarah Palin (R-AK): her ship has probably sailed. Her profile has plummeted from the 2008 VP run. I suspect her political career is over after she chose not to run for U.S. Senate.

Which woman would you like to see as the first U.S. President? Just click your vote and thoughts on the comment button at www.MarkCurisMedia.com..

Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is a nationally-known political reporter author and analyst based in West Virginia.

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