On the surface, the reelection of Chris Christie as New Jersey’s governor was remarkable, winning with a resounding 60% of the vote in a dark blue (liberal Democrat) state.
A closer look reveals that Christie was running as a Republican in name only, against a weak opponent who was earlier slated to lose by a much higher margin. Christie won for his ability to enforce pension reform and make it easier to fire bad teachers while vetoing a tax increase on the state’s wealthiest taxpayers.
But on issues closer to conservatives’ hearts, Christie is no Reagan. He not only thinks that global warming is “for real” but that much of it is caused by humans. He slammed the National Rifle Association when it ran an ad showing President Obama’s daughters being carefully protected from predators at a private school by 15 armed guards, calling the ad “reprehensible.” But what likely most annoyed and alienated conservatives was his hugging of the president following Superstorm Sandy just days before the 2012 election. Polls showed that that single event, hyped endlessly across the mainstream media, was the turning point for Obama in his contest with Romney.
As his position as a potential front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination improved following his victory, his definitely liberal behaviors are likely to jump up and bite him in 2016, including his signing into law a bill that would levy criminal penalties against parents and Christian ministers if they counsel young people to change their sexual orientation or gender identity.
In addition, he appointed a hard core liberal as attorney general for the state – Paula Gow – who favors abortion and gun confiscation from law-abiding citizens to keep those guns from somehow getting into the hands of criminals. In addition she refused to join in the state attorneys general lawsuit against Obamacare.
Gary Bauer, president of American Values, said that Christie’s problem is that “he’s a Northeastern Republican [who will] have a hard time appealing to the GOP’s conservative base in the Midwest and the South.”
So Christie’s victory in New Jersey was a shallow one for conservatives at best.
The news from Virginia was much better despite the loss of the governorship to a Clinton liberal, Terry McAuliffe. In a race that looked like it was over before it began, Virginia’s attorney general Ken Cuccinelli closed the gap and nearly pulled off what would have been a stunning upset, considering how the cards were stacked against him in the race.
First of all, McAuliffe was able to hang some of the blame for the government shutdown around Cuccinelli’s neck, which especially resonated in northern Virginia, where government workers and contractors make up 30% of the electorate.
In addition, so far behind was Cuccinelli in the early going that the Republican Party’s National Committee gave up on doing any serious financing of his campaign, which, thanks to its paltry efforts, wound up trailing McAuliffe by nearly six-to-one in dollars raised.
Finally, Cuccinelli faced another adversary, a libertarian candidate who was libertarian in name only but who turned out to be the perfect foil to end Cuccinelli’s threat. Robert Sarvis soaked up 7% of the vote, more than enough to put the W onto McAuliffe’s effort. But more than that, it turned out that Sarvis, apparently unknowingly, had some critical funding early on in his campaign from an Obama fundraiser, Joe Liemandt. The Blaze did some extensive digging to learn the facts, and asked the obvious question:
With the divide between the Republican Establishment in Washington and its conservative grassroots base widening, could strategically leveraging a third-party be Democrats’ ace in the hole?
Given a slightly more favorable alignment of the stars, Cuccinelli would be Virginia’s next governor.
The Republican primary race in Alabama’s first congressional district between tea party favorite Dean Young and establishment conservative Bradley Byrne went to Byrne in this conservative district. As the Wall Street Journal noted, however, the 5 percentage points separating the two contestants signifies rather little: Young was outspent by Byrne by three-to-one with Byrne enjoying support from the Chamber of Commerce and other establishment groups. And Young didn’t have the political experience of Byrne, making it hard, according to the Journal, “to draw firm conclusions about whether the tea party movement is losing influence among conservative voters” or not. Call that a draw.
In Colorado, on the other hand, it wasn’t even close. Despite huge investments in political advertising and promotion, Amendment 66 – which would have raised taxes on Coloradoans by nearly a billion dollars – crashed and burned mightily, losing by two-to-one. This was not so much a tea party contest as it was an economic one: the first words on the ballot question were: “Shall taxes be raised…” and the answer was a resounding NO.
The fallout from the Colorado vote could be significant as the weakened Democrat governor of the state, John Hickenlooper, still reeling from the recall of two legislators whose bills he signed into law and a supporter of the amendment, could be the next politician to be forced to find work in the real world after the election in 2014. In Colorado, that is a win.
Overall, then, results were mixed, with establishment Republicans like Christie and Byrne winning in New Jersey and Alabama, while Democrats in Virginia are still recovering from what could have been a catastrophic loss to a tea party favorite. In Colorado, it’s all but over for the Democrat governor if he decides to run for reelection.