Stacey Abrams has already delivered her message

OPINION — Move over Beto O’Rourke, the candidate who brought Texas Democrats closer than they had been for years in his eventually unsuccessful Senate race against GOP Sen. Ted Cruz last year.

Will he or won’t he run for president? That’s the question that’s been following him during his postelection adventures. But another Democrat who caught the attention of national leaders and celebrities in her midterm contest is getting ready for her moment on the national political stage.

Though Stacey Abrams lost her race to become Georgia’s governor in November, she will be the face and voice of the Democratic response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union on Feb. 5, a speech that most anticipate will be less unifying oration than politicking to shore up the GOP base.

Campaign 2020

CHARLOTTENC — Campaign 2020 Is Up and Running!

So, you want presidential candidates? According to the Federal Election Commission, almost 500 people have registered to run. You probably have not heard of most of them, though at the top spot is Donald Trump, hopeful to repeat his 2016 win. Other contenders see his volatility creating an opening for a challenger. What are the chances of anyone on what looks to be a long and growing list?

WCCB Political Contributor Mary C. Curtis weighs in.

A Kamala Harris candidacy is a test, and not just for the candidate

OPINION — Of course, a reporter asked Kamala Harris how she would describe her identity. The California senator, a new entry into a crowded and growing Democratic field to challenge Donald Trump next year, answered simply, “I describe myself as a proud American.”

It’s a question no other candidate has been asked, and one that Harris will no doubt be asked again before the long slog to November 2020 is completed.

It’s not just her competitors Harris will be confronting in the months until then (or until her campaign comes to an end). It’s also questions like that one, understandable in the coverage of her historic quest. But it’s the extra scrutiny that can be exhausting for anyone just trying to live as herself or himself while being seen as an “other” by so many.

Judge Denies Mark Harris’ Request to Be Certified

CHARLOTTE, NC — On Tuesday, a Wake County Superior Court judge turned down the request of Republican Mark Harris to certify him as the winner in his race against Democrat Dan McCready. “This is an extremely unusual situation, with no board in place,” said Judge Paul Ridgeway. He said asking the court to step in and declare the winner, when that is the authority of another branch of government, was inappropriate, especially in the middle of an ongoing investigation. (Mary C. Curtis)

Very much up for grabs: this year’s profile in courage

OPINION — “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Identifying the politician offering that idealistic advice is not so hard — President John F. Kennedy at his Jan. 20, 1961, inauguration. But that’s not all the 35th president had to say about the promise and challenges of America.

Climate change? “The supreme reality of our time is the vulnerability of our planet.” Income inequality? “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.”

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, based in Boston, planned to regularly tweet out Kennedy’s quotes, though if you now try to seek a daily dose of inspiration, you will see a note on its page: “We’re sorry, but we will not be posting updates to our social media channels during the government shutdown. Also, all National Archives facilities are closed and activities are canceled until further notice.”

Impact of Government Shutdown

CHARLOTTE,  NC — Wednesday marks the 26th day of the partial government shutdown with no end in sight as Americans wait on lawmakers to resolve this standoff.

It’s not only the federal workers themselves who are at risk. Lately, the country is seeing airport slowdowns as TSA agents and air traffic controllers are affected; food inspections are being curtailed; national parks are being overrun with tourists and litter.

And if this shutdown keeps going, we may start to see some of those long-term impacts get worse. People could then potentially lose their homes and cars, and won’t have access to their medicine. Some already cannot afford to pay to fill their gas tanks to get to work. In the future, food-stamp payments may be affected.

And some are finding other jobs, finding a government job fulfilling but too unpredictable when it comes to paying the bills. (Mary C. Curtis)

Our Political Contributor Mary C. Curtis discusses what happens if this shutdown lasts much longer.

If Trump is looking for a national emergency, he should try these ones instead

OPINION — Dueling teleprompter speeches and a high-drama walkout: This is what it looks like when our country’s leaders debate the best way to meet the challenges at the border and whether shutting down the government is the best way to settle it.

If no one budges this week — and the way talks have been going so far, optimism is not particularly warranted — the next step could be a national emergency, declared by the president. But first Donald Trump seems intent on diluting the word “emergency” to mean whatever he wants it to mean on a particular day or hour.

Government Shutdown and Border Wall

CHARLOTTE, NC–

President Trump and lawmakers may not have made much headway in discussions on ending the government shutdown and agreeing on terms for a wall on the southern border.

Tuesday night, the president made his case in a nationally televised address from the Oval Office, countered by a speech from Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Meetings are set this week.

But what will happen next as 800,000 workers are on furlough or working without paychecks?

WCCB Political Contributor Mary C. Curtis weighs in.

A Year of Uncertainty in Charlotte and Beyond

CHARLOTTE, NC — From the partial government shutdown to North Carolina’s 9th Congressional district race, there is a lot of uncertainty as we wrap up 2018.

WCCB Political Contributor Mary C. Curtis is anticipating what’s next in Charlotte and beyond as we head into 2019.

The Criminal Justice Bill Shows Where the GOP Is on Race

OPINION — Sen. Tim Scott, Republican from South Carolina, was optimistic after the Senate passed an amended bill this week that makes bipartisan progress on an issue — criminal justice reform — that has divided lawmakers for years.

Scott, an original co-sponsor of the bill, said in a statement: “By cutting recidivism, encouraging job training, education and mental health and substance abuse treatments for incarcerated individuals, and making our criminal justice system both smarter and tougher, we have taken a positive step forward.”

The bill is considered a First Step, as it is named, toward addressing inequities in the system that disproportionately affect African-Americans and the poor, in everything from arrests to sentencing, and have contributed to a mass incarceration crisis. Criminal justice advocates will also point out that the changes are modest and apply only to the federal system, which truly makes this a first step. Yet it’s something.