Ken Cuccinelli (center) has made too many people into Terry McAuliffe fans, like the woman on the right. Meanwhile, Republican Chris Christie will cruise to victory in New Jersey. PHOTO: Reuters
Today is election day! Voters will go to the polls to decide the fates of the Virginia Governor’s race (Ken Cuccinelli (R) vs. Terry McAuliffe (D)) New Jersey Governor’s race (Chris Christie (R) vs. Barbara Buono (D)) and the New York City Mayor’s race (Bill de Blasio (D) vs. Joe “Not happening” Lhota (R)) among others. No, it’s not the shutdown showdown expected in 2014 or the culmination of the incredible circus slated for 2016, but there are many important races today, and the results will likely have the Republican Party looking to banish the Tea Party from its ranks.
Three races are likely to drive home the point that the centrist wing of the Republican Party is more needed than ever and that the Tea Party, while quite strong, is making life increasingly difficult for the Republican Party.
1. Virginia Governor’s Race: Outlook grim for Republican Ken Cuccinelli
The Virginia Governor’s race is often looked at as a weathervane for the coming years. In 2009, Tea Party favorite Bob McDonnell had a triumphant victory, and the Tea Party wave of 2010 soon followed. Now McDonnell is racked by scandal, and the Republican Party’s choice to replace him, Ken Cuccinelli, appears to be on a sinking ship. Despite facing an opponent that no one seems to love (former Clinton advisor and Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe), Cuccinelli is losing to McAuliffe by 6 or 7 points in nearly every poll (except for an outlier on each side). It seems Virginians would prefer an unexciting Democrat over a Republican that is so socially conservative he has had to publicly clarify whether or not he opposes sodomy.
Maybe this was just the Democrats’ year, but the Republican Party can’t help but feel that this race ought to be closer. It almost certainly would be if they had picked a more centrist candidate instead of a Tea Party ideologue.
2. New Jersey Governor’s Race: Chris Christie Might Be The Last Republican That Democrats Can Love
Chris Christie, on the other hand, is headed to a slam dunk victory in his reelection bid for Governor of New Jersey. While Christie scored plenty of good will around Hurricane Sandy and incumbents tend to win, the fact is that he could get around 60% of the vote in state that reliably goes Democrat in national elections. Christie has endeared himself to many Democrats in his state, and he represents a Republican Party success story at capturing the middle of the political spectrum—something the Republican Party has had trouble doing since the Tea Party showed up.
3. The Race That Proves That Alabama Is At Least As Weird As You Think It Is
Alabama is one of the most conservative states in the nation, so the Republican primary for the state’s first congressional district, held today, will almost certainly go on to win the seat in Congress. The two Republican candidates are establishment Republican Bradley Byrne and right-wing nut Dean Young. A questionnaire given to both candidates by The Guardian revealed that Byrne is a run-of-the-mill conservative, while Young “has a Christian worldview,” believes that “homosexuality is wrong,” and while he doesn’t know where Obama was born, his best guess is Kenya. Also, Young could not name the current Treasury Secretary or Republican Majority Whip.
Young is currently leading in the polls, and if he goes on to be Alabama’s next Congressman, he will be another intractable Tea Party member who won’t let facts get in the way of his beliefs, and will see compromise as a dirty word. Those guys can win in Alabama, but they are making life hard for the Republican Party in purple states and nationally.
The Republican Party needs more Chris Christies, fewer Ken Cuccinellis and they need people like Dean Young to form their own party. Today, barring a Virginia upset, will make that clearer than ever. The problem is that the members of the Republican Party who hear this warning call, will be the ones who were already thinking it.