Happy New Year – well sort of anyway; yesterday was Election Day 2018 and if it already hadn’t begun today is the start of the 2020 election campaign. Let’s explore, if you dare.
Going into the 2018 election I already had 31 Democrats and eight Republicans on my watch list for possible (in many cases certain or probable) 2020 presidential contenders. I am far from certain that Donald Trump will be the 2020 GOP standard bearer whether he is still in office or not by the time the 2020 Republican National Convention ends.
In the Senate the map and the math are the opposite of 2018 and favor the Democrats. 21 Republican seats are up compared to only 12 Democratic ones. That is before any retirements and not allowing for probable vacancies.
As always the entire House of Representatives will be up for reelection. A lot of freshmen members of the House will discover that call time, instead of being over, is now a daily chore.
I expect moves in the Cabinet perhaps as early as today. The exit of Jeff Sessions as Attorney General would catch nobody who has been paying attention by surprise. While scandal is part of the Trump administration’s MO the antics of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke may be getting too much press. Even in the best administrations the period between the conclusion of the mid-terms and the end of the year is a time that brings some legitimate resignations.
Long ago I named three Washington notables to watch when forecasting Trump’s final demise. They were Senators John McCain and Mitch McConnell along with Jared Kushner. Unfortunately we lost Senator McCain earlier this year. I still expect Kushner to flip on Trump if he hasn’t already. Kushner isn’t going to jail for anybody.
In McConnell and Trump we have the tale of two Dons trying to share control of one turf. That cannot last long and Washington is Mitch’s turf. A Cabinet secretary to watch is Mrs. Mitch McConnell better known as Elaine Chao. Trump named Chao as his Transportation Secretary which led me to (erroneously) believe that Trump would wisely start out his administration by trying to enact an infrastructure bill. Most of that money would have filtered through the Department of Transportation which would have presented McConnell with a plethora of opportunities to “encourage” political donations. If you see Chao change posts that will be telling. If you see her leave the Cabinet that will signal that the truce is over.
In addition to these mainly electoral and “personnel matters” I still fear a wild lame duck session. Among other factors, keep in mind that without legislation signed by Trump the government runs out of money on December 7th. Defeated legislators, an incompetent president and a serious deadline: what could go wrong? My answer is: a lot!
All I have to say is that when the 2020 election is over I hope it sets up a happy 2021 for progressives. The journey will be interesting in any event.
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