ABC-6 Reporter Mark Curtis: “The Sunday Political Brunch” June 2, 2013

by Mark Curtis ABC6 Chief Political Reporter

“The Sunday Political Brunch” — June 2, 2013

(Providence, Rhode Island) – It's that weird political season – post-Memorial Day; pre-Labor Day, and usually little happens in between. This year, there's a lot percolating out there, including some surprises.

“The Biggest Little State” – Rhode Island may be the smallest state, but it made the biggest political headline of the week. Independent Governor Lincoln Chafee has joined the Democratic Party as he gears up for his reelection bid. Chafee was a longtime Republican, including eight years in the U.S. Senate. He quit the GOP and became an independent in 2007. The son of legendary U.S. Senator John Chafee (R-RI), he became Governor almost three years ago with only 36% of the vote in a crowded field. He faces a similarly tough challenge for a second term.

“The Little Biggest Race” – Oddly enough, the Chafee announcement overshadowed what should be the biggest national story in elective politics right now – that being the U.S. Senate special election in Massachusetts, between Democrat Ed Markey and Republican Gabriel Gomez. The latest poll from the League of Conservation voters has it 48 percent Markey to 41 percent Gomez. What should be a marquee race that could help determine which party controls the U.S. Senate race next year, has instead turned into a snooze-fest. We have three weeks to go boys, so step up your game and buy some TV ads. In the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings, this race has received scant press. Some of the blame lies with the candidate's lackluster campaigns.

“Holder Holdover” – U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder is toast. There are just too many troubles with his name attached. While the President likes him and stands behind him, the holdover Holder from the first Obama term is on his way out. But, you never quit too close to the timing of a scandal in Washington. Look for a quiet resignation during the August recess when everyone flees Washington anyway.

“Edith Bunker” – There is sad news from Hollywood this weekend with the death of actress Jean Stapleton, who was best known for playing Edith Bunker on the classic TV show, “All in the Family.” Edith – who played the dizzy, but compassionate foil, to Archie Bunker, was often the show's mediator for political bickering (photo above). The buffer she played between the conservative Archie, and the liberal son-in-law Mike, was a role played by women in many, many American households in the tumultuous 60s and 70s, as those same women emerged as a political force of their own, in both parties. Edith Bunker remains one of the most iconic characters in American TV history. Thank you Jean Stapleton.

“Bachman-Turnover Overdrive” – To the surprise of many on both sides of the aisle, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has decided not to seek a fifth term. The Tea Party favorite made a failed bid for the Republican Presidential nomination in 2012, but may give it another try. Oddly enough, her 2012 Congressional challenger Jim Graves then followed suit and dropped out of the 2014 race, too. Graves only lost to Bachmann by just over 4,000 last year, and was seen as a strong candidate for the Democrats to take the seat. Now both parties are scrambling for candidates in what had been shaping up to be one of the key House races next year.

“Investigate the Investigation” – I want to get to the bottom of the Boston Marathon Bombings just like everyone else. I want to know if Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev had any help, including what Tamerlan's widow Katherine Russell knew. Aside from the bombings, there is an unsolved triple murder in Massachusetts to which Tamerlan Tsarnaev may be linked. So, it is unsettling that we get such a convoluted explanation from the FBI about the death of a possible co-conspirator. Ibragim Todashev, an associate of Tamerlan's, was being questioned about the triple murder which took place September 11, 2011 (odd coincidence about that date, huh?). The FBI shot Todashev to death in Florida, and initial reports say he lunged at the agent with a knife. Now reports say there was no knife. The Justice Department (led by the above-mentioned Eric Holder) has launched an internal probe. The public deserves an honest and clear investigation. And we need to show the world the integrity and fairness of our justice system. This is a mess!

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