“The Sunday Political Brunch” - February 2, 2014

Democrat for Governor Clay Pell & wife Michelle Kwan
Democrat for Governor Clay Pell & wife Michelle Kwan
Dr. Mark Curtis, Ed.D., is the Chief Political Reporter for ABC6 Providence/New Bedford. 

(Providence, Rhode Island) – It’s Super Bowl Sunday, so nothing too heavy politically in the “Brunch” today. I always try to write a fun column on this day, rather than being too serious. It’s kind of a political “snow day” for me. One of the highlights of the past week for me was meeting Olympic Silver Medalist figure skater Michelle Kwan. Oh, by the way, her less famous husband Clay Pell declared for Governor of Rhode Island last Tuesday (photo above). It made me wonder about other famous political spouses (or partners), who sometimes outshine the candidate. Here goes:


“Skating Away!” – Michelle Kwan is quite famous, but her lesser-known husband does come from a well-known political family. Clay Pell is the grandson of Sen. Claiborne Pell (D-RI) who served 30 years in the U.S. Senate. You may know him as the guy who created, “Pell Grants” for college educations. Anyway, when Clay announced for Governor this past week, he introduced himself by saying, “Hello, I’m Michelle Kwan’s husband!” It got a big laugh! By the way, she’s not just a pretty lady on ice skates. Michelle has a B.A from the University of Denver and an M.A. from Tufts University – both in International Relations - two of the most prestigious schools in that field, and has worked at the U.S. Department of State. I got to speak with her for a few minutes and she is truly engaging. 

“Mr. Liz Taylor?” – Actress Elizabeth Taylor had many famous husbands, including actor Richard Burton (twice); hotel heir Conrad Hilton, Jr.; and, singer Eddie Fisher. But she made a huge political splash in 1976 when the liberal-leaning Taylor married moderate-Republican, and former Navy Secretary John Warner (R-VA). Two years later he was elected to the U.S. Senate, but Taylor did not fall in love with Washington, DC and, in 1982, they divorced.  

“The Kennedy Connection” – Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger was a major star in his own right, when he was elected Governor of California in the 2003 recall of Gov. Gray Davis (D-CA), and then was reelected in 2006. The fact that he married into the Kennedy family years earlier, by getting hitched to Maria Shriver didn’t hurt. Shriver remained a high-profile persona on NBC News, and within her own family; and, even when the couple split, she, in many ways, was the brighter star in the constellation.  

“FOXy News Analyst” – Fox News Legal Analyst Kimberly Guilfoyle was a famous San Francisco prosecutor who went on to become a star network legal beagle. Along the way she married a rising political star in San Francisco City Supervisor Gavin Newsom. Guilfoyle then became ‘First Lady” of San Francisco when her husband was elected Mayor. Newsom is now Lt. Governor of California – and is thought to have White House ambitions – but Kimberly will not be First Lady. In 2005 the couple divorced over the stress of their bicoastal careers.  

“You’re No Good; Baby You’re No Good!” – That line from a popular Linda Ronstadt song might sum up the end of her relationship with then Governor Jerry Brown (D-CA), back in the 70s. Brown – who is now Governor once again – never married Ronstadt, but their high profile relationship created banner headlines. Again, it was a case of the spouse (or partner) being more famous or popular, than the politician.  

“An Officer and a Gentlewoman” – Governor Bob Kerrey (D-NE) was a distinguished war hero and Medal of Honor winner. It seemed only fitting when he wound up in a real life romance with actress Debra Winger, the heartbreak girl in the classic Navy movie, “An Officer and a Gentleman.” Kerrey went on to serve in the U.S. Senate and run for President, but not with Winger as his “wing man.” The couple – who never married - split up, and sadly both of their once promising careers fizzled out.  

“First Gentleman” – It could be argued that some First Ladies, became more famous than their partner who served as President – or at least they were a clear equal. This may certainly be true of Eleanor Roosevelt, Jackie Kennedy, Betty Ford, Nancy Reagan and Hillary Clinton.  

“What’s Cookin’?” – Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) is certainly entertaining White House ambitions, that eluded his famous dad, Governor Mario Cuomo. Andrew was even married to Kerry Kennedy (Senator Robert Kennedy’s daughter) for many years. They divorced, but these days Cuomo has another famous partner. He’s been dating and living with Food Network star Sandra Lee. Wow, if they marry and he becomes President she could actually serve the dual role of First Lady and White House Chef!  

Here is today’s question: Are you more likely to vote for a political candidate based on their spouse – whether famous, or not? Just click the comment button at www.MarkCurtisMedia.com. Enjoy your Super Bowl Sunday!  

© 2014, Mark Curtis Media, LLC.  

Photo Courtesy: © WLNE-TV ABC6 – Citadel Communications, LLC.










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EG February 02, 2014 at 08:43 PM
Go Michael Kwan! :) I would vote for Michael Kwan. I don't know why I should vote for her husband. Mr. Pell will have a tough time to convince the voters during primary.


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