There were few surprises in the major political races last night as Democrat Terry McAuliffe swept to victory in the Virginia gubernatorial contest, triumphing over the tea party favorite, Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Bill de Blasio easily won the mayor’s seat in New York City and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie trounced his opponent—boosting the likelihood of his presidential run in 2016.
In liberal New York, de Blasio is the first Democrat to hold the mayoralty since 1993, when incumbent David Dinkins lost to Republican Rudy Giuliani. De Blasio is a populist who has called for an end to the city’s stop-and-frisk policing and who wants to raise taxes on the wealthy to fight inequality.
“The challenges we face have been decades in the making, and the problems we set out to address will not be solved overnight,” de Blasio, 52, told supporters celebrating inside a Brooklyn armory. “But make no mistake: the people of this city have chosen a progressive path, and tonight, we set out on it together as one city.”
There were interesting ballot issues across the country, as voters in Colorado imposed a tax of as much as 25 percent on retail sales of marijuana, and as many as seven casinos were approved in New York.
It was a bad day for the Tea Party, as not only Cuccinelli lost but in a U.S. House of Representatives special-election primary runoff in Alabama, self-described tea party Republican Dean Young was beaten by U.S. Chamber of Commerce-backed candidate Bradley Byrne.
In New Jersey, Christie, 51, defeated 60-year-old Democratic challenger Barbara Buono, a state senator, 60 percent to 38 percent. The governor will no doubt use his resounding win to make the case that he is a consensus builder
“He’s demonstrated an ability to piece together a coalition of voters that looks a lot like what you need to win a national election,” Kevin Madden, a Republican strategist in Washington who advised Mitt Romney’s 2012 White House bid, told Bloomberg News. “The challenge for him, however, is that the voters who tend to dominate the early Republican primary states don’t all vote like folks in New Jersey.”
In his victory speech at the Asbury Park Convention Hall, Christie said Hurricane Sandy brought the state together last year and said its government set a model that contrasts with “dysfunction” in Washington.
“In New Jersey, we still fight and we still yell,” he said. “But when we fight and yell, it’s about the things that really matter.”
McAuliffe, 56, a former Democratic National Committee chairman and close ally of former President Bill Clinton, defeated Cuccinelli by a margin of 48 percent to 45 percent in Virginia. He benefited from campaigns visits by President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and celebrities like “Scandal” star Kerry Washington.
McAuliffe thanked the “absolutely historic number of Republicans who crossed party lines to support me.”
In Detroit, which was one of more than 300 cities selecting mayors, Mike Duggan, a 55-year-old former hospital executive, defeated 58-year-old Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon, 55 percent to 45 percent in a nonpartisan race. Duggan will be Detroit’s first white mayor in almost 40 years, running a city where 83 percent of the residents are Black.
“The people of Detroit elected me because they wanted someone who’d go into city hall and take on that bureaucracy and get things done that need to be done,” Duggan said. “This was a campaign of unity and it will be an administration of unity.”