Democrats Win a Few Big Races at the Expense of the Tea Party

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Tuesday night was an after-thought election for a couple of governors, some mayors, a bunch of local school boards, some ballot issues and assorted municipal offices. The 5 at-large members of my district school board all ran again with no opposition. There was nothing else to vote on. It was a pretty desolate ballot.

That doesn’t mean, however, that I looked upon the day as insignificant. There’s a sure-shot Democrat in the New York mayor’s office once again. A tall, interesting guy with a UN family named Bill De Blasio. I’ve profiled hizzoner in an earlier submission and he’ll be good for America’s largest city.

I’ve specifically eyed two other races as well. The two governor’s races. One a runaway, the other fairly close. There’s New Jersey where short-fused, Lap-Banded and serial BS’er, Chris Christie again fooled a substantial majority of voters into ignoring his utter disdain for unions, teachers, gays and all manner of poor workers and minorities through heartless budgeting and a veto of the Jersey legislature’s minimum wage bill, later approvingly reversed as a ballot issue the same day of the Christie re-election.

Oh, and Christie hates the Affordable Care Act and has taken a pass on running the state health insurance marketplace. In a late-evening appearance before supporters, Christie told the crowd “I stand here before you as your governor, blah, blah, blah; thank you New Jersey for making me the luckiest guy in the world.” He then claimed that he was going to be a two-term governor of New Jersey, with a STRAIGHT FACE!

CNN pundits were falling all over themselves virtually declaring Christie THE force to be reckoned with in the 2016 presidential race. Hardly! By that time, people will have cut through his bogus “everyman” persona to the guts of his actual narrow right-wing political agenda.

All the aforementioned notwithstanding, Christie had, as predicted, stomped Democratic opponent, state Senator Barbara Buono into the ground. Buono is a pleasant enough 60-year-old (9 years Christie’s senior). As a state Senator, she’s butted heads repeatedly with the governor over numerous bills involving the legalization of marijuana, all vetoed by Christie. Despite a glittering legislative CV, she just failed to connect with the voters. Christie was aided greatly by the sad serendipity of Hurricane Sandy.

But, who cares? Christie is running for president, not governor. He just needs a high-profile stopping off place to park his still considerable carcass before his inevitable run to oblivion.

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No, it’s Virginia I’ve had my eye on. The Terry McAuliffe/Ken Cuccinelli gubernatorial race had all kinds of political overtones. Virginia is tilting moderate even though the state last elected a Republican governor and features an overwhelming 32-11 Republican majority in the house with 2 vacancies and, oddly enough, an equal number of state senators with both Republicans and Democrats seating 20 each. But those numbers can be misleading. Registered Democrats outnumber Republicans but some 44% of Virginia voters consider themselves moderates. The McAuliffe victory was aided mightily by moderates, Clinton coattails, his opponent’s Tea Party ties and most importantly the DC House Republicans moronic partial shutdown obsession that brought great pain to the northern part of the state in particular.

Terry McAuliffe is a newcomer to elective politics, but an old hand at occupying various powerful positions within the Democratic Party. I met McAuliffe in his DC office as head of the Democratic National Committee while attending a “Take back America” confab some years ago. He at least feigned interest in what I was saying, but for someone who runs in the highest Democratic circles that included a close relationship with Bill and Hillary, I’m sure he looked forward to getting back to his telephone fundraising that he was in the middle of at the time.

Speaking of which, in stark contrast to many Democratic races, McAullife was wiping the floor with his opponent in the money department. He pulled in about twice as much as the Teapublican with $35 million in his campaign war chest, compared to Virginia Attorney General Cuccinelli who had to make do with about half that much at $18 million.

Pre-election, polls had consistently come down on the side of McAuliffe, but by slim enough 4 to 6 point margins to keep the Democrat awake at night. The race was supposedly a referendum over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, with both President Obama and Vice President Biden dropping in for campaign visits. Biden promised that ACA would give an additional 400,000 state residents health care.

The Virginia race could serve as a barometer for things to come in the upcoming election seasons. It was a nasty campaign. McAuliffe was characterized as dishonest, Cuccinelli as a right-wing radical. The glamour contingent of both parties journeyed to Virginia endorsing their candidates with gusto. In addition to the Obama/Biden combo, the Clintons and president shored up their guy’s efforts while Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Scott Walker, radicals all, made appearances in support of Cuccinelli.

The McAuliffe campaign claims volunteers knocked on 1.8 million doors in spreading the progressive gospel. Sadly, though somewhat of a necessity, he pandered to the right in promising “fewer, smarter” regulations. Corporate-speak for don’t sweat it rich boys, I’ve got your back. He made his strongest pitches in the areas of education, staying competitive in a global economy, veterans issues and not running away from the Affordable Care Act. He headlined his campaign, “Putting Jobs First.” You can go here for a campaign outline for victory. At least if you’re running for governor of Virginia.

With McAuliffe’s win, however close, against a Tea Party candidate, a chink has been exposed in the Teapublican armor. A Democrat can run as a strong supporter of the Obama health care plan and win. The Cuccinelli loss notwithstanding, (remember, it was close) there is still life in the old Tea Party after all and the radical element in American politics will still be very much a factor in ’14 and ’16. The great news, anti-woman Cuccinelli loses and a new pro-woman guy replaces a complete Teapublican anti-woman boob, he of trans-vaginal ultrasound fame, Bob McDonnell. Mac’s real legacy might be criminal action against him for taking oodles of questionable money and gifts from all sorts of sources.

The Democrats also finally realized that a bunch of well-positioned negative ads could actually win them a race just as such ads changed the face of Congress for the Republicans in 2010. And the money didn’t hurt either. That’s how you pay for the negative ads.

So there are the keys to Democratic victories in elections to come. A couple of million door knockers, multiple millions in campaign funds, nasty, but accurate ads, a reasonable collection of issues and solutions and a collective prayer that Teapublicans continue the witless practice of voting dozens of times to repeal the ACA. The Huffington Post cites the Congressional Research finding that it costs $24 million a week to operate the House. Repeal attempts have taken up 80 hours of House floor time or $48 million; a year of food stamps for over 31,000 people.

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