New Jersey voters handed Gov. Chris Christie a decisive win in Tuesday’s gubernatorial race, setting the stage not only for Christie’s second term, but possibly for a 2016 presidential bid. The race attracted an unusual amount of attention because Christie is believed to be a likely contender for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
His victory with more than 60 percent of the vote, is actually one of the biggest margins in the history of the state. However he fell behind the victory of Gov. Thomas Kean with 71 percent in 1985, when the Republican governor carried every county and all New Jersey’s major cities.
The results came less than three weeks after the 16-day partial government shutdown, a maneuver pushed by conservative Republicans seeking to delay or defund Democratic President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare reform law, known as Obamacare.
The renewed lease on the governorship gives Mr. Christie more time to watch over the Hurricane Sandy recovery effort, and to push a legislative agenda that could include in-state tuition for illegal immigrants.
“We stand here tonight showing it is possible to both do your job first. To work together first. To fight for what you believe in, but still stand by your principals and get something done for the people who elected you,” Christie said in a victory speech in the shore town of Asbury Park.
“Now listen, I know that if we can do this in Trenton, N.J., maybe the folks in Washington, D.C. should tune into their TVs right now. See how it’s done,” he added.
In Virginian, former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe was elected governor, largely with the support of the heavily populated Washington suburbs that were hard hit by the government shutdown.
With 94 percent of precincts reporting, McAuliffe led by a percentage point in a contest that saw his opponent take an early lead and hold it for more than two hours after the polls closed. He becomes the first Virginia governor elected from the same political party of the president since 1977.
“This election was never a choice between Democrats and Republicans, it was a choice about whether Virginia would continue the bipartisan tradition that has served us so well over the last decade,” McAuliffe said in Northern Virginia tonight.
During the election campaign McAuliffe held a small and consistent lead in public opinion polls over Cuccinelli, who was considered a hero by many tea party supporters and other grass-roots activists, thanks to his very public conservative crusades, including his push against Obamacare.
Cuccinelli, however, blamed his loss on being outspent by $15 million by McAuliffe’s campaign and he insisted that Virginia voters had still sent a message to Washington about the health care law.
In liberal New York City, Bill de Blasio, the city’s public advocate, crushed Republican Joseph Lhota, running on a platform to bring the “two New Yorks” of rich and poor closer together.
The White House said Obama called McAuliffe, de Blasio and Boston Mayor-elect Martin Walsh, also a Democrat, to congratulate them on their victories, says Reuters.