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NJ, Virginia Gubernatorial Elections Possibly Have National Implications

Chris ChristieVirginia and New Jersey will go to the polls tomorrow to pick their next governor in two races that observers say have national implications—in Virginia because President Obama has campaigned for Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe and in New Jersey because incumbent Gov. Chris Christie clearly has designs on a presidential run in 2016.

Obama’s presence in Virginia has turned McAuliffe’s race against Republican Ken Cuccinelli into a referendum on national politics.

Over the weekend, the president spoke to a crowd of 1,600 in the Washington suburbs and linked Cuccinelli with the congressional GOP and the recent government shutdown.

“There aren’t a lot of states that felt more of the pain than folks right here in Virginia,” he said at an Arlington, Va., high school.

“Paychecks were delayed. Families were forced to go without the services that they depended on. Business owners took it on the chin when customers cut back on their own spending. And as Terry mentioned, his opponent says he’s perfectly happy with it. Now he says it’s in the rear view mirror.

“This isn’t a game and there are very real consequences when you operate ideologically the way some of these folks do,” he said.

Though he did not mention Cuccinelli by name, Obama painted him as tea party ideologue more interested in religious and social activism than governing.

“We will not create jobs when you focus on things like attacking Social Security,” he said. “That doesn’t create jobs. It doesn’t create jobs when you go after scientists, you know, and you try to offer your own alternative theories of how things work and engage in litigation around stuff that isn’t political. It has to do with what’s true. It has to do with facts.”

Obama was referring to a lawsuit Cuccinelli—a global warming skeptic—brought against the University of Virginia in 2010 as state attorney general, when he targeted UVA over a global warming report using antifraud laws.

In New Jersey, as some polls show that Republican Gov. Chris Christie might win as much as 30 percent of the Black vote and perhaps more than half of the Hispanic vote in tomorrow’s election against state Senator Barbara Buono, some national observers say it would make him a formidable presidential candidate in 2016 who could bring more Blacks and Hispanics into the Republican tent.

But many skeptics point out that Christie would likely be running against Hillary Clinton, whose support in the Black community is almost as high as Obama’s—and a Democratic candidate like Clinton would greatly benefit in the Black and Hispanic community from an Obama endorsement. Those factors, they argue, would likely shut down any Christie hopes of repeating his New Jersey success among voters of color on a national stage.

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