While health insurance reform is the talk of the town when it comes to policy, it's the off-year gubernatorial races that have the politicos buzzing. Why? Well, they help the parties and pundits and the wonks read the tea leaves for the 2010 midterms elections. At the moment, the tea is something of a bitter brew for the Democrats.
In New Jersey, Gov. Jon Corzine (D) is in serious trouble against Republican Chris Christie. Corruption and an a recession have dogged Corzine, previously a senator and former CEO of Goldman Sacks. He has traditionally self funded his races -- but not this time around. Christie may have more money that Corzine does. And, while Jersey is known for its rough and tumble politics, it's getting uglier than usual in the Garden State. Take a look at this Corzine ad.
Meanwhile, in the land for lovers, the Virgina governor's race is also making headlines. This purple state, won by Barack Obama in 2008 and led by popular Democratic governors for the past 8 years, is seen as a bellwether for 2010. The race is a rematch of the state attorney general race four years ago, when Republican Bob McDonnell beat out state senator Creigh Deeds. Deeds won the Democratic primary against party mover and shaker Terry McAullife, but has been less than sparkling. While polls are close, Deeds has a GOTV problem. His voter mobilization network is not as strong as it should be, and he finds himself having to distance himself from a President whose 2008 coattails were golden.
Deeds has made up some ground thanks to a 20-year-old thesis written by McDonnell while at Regent University. According to the Washington Post,
in his thesis: "The Republican Party's Vision for the Family: The Compelling Issue of The Decade," McDonnell described working women as "detrimental" to the traditional family. He criticized a U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing contraception for unmarried couples and decried the "purging" of religion from schools. He advocated character education programs in public schools to teach "traditional Judeo-Christian values," and he criticized federal tax credits for child care expenditures because they encouraged women to enter the workforce.See some of the news coverage of the thesis:
Both parties are pouring dollars and people into the two states, knowing that pundits and the public will see the outcomes as a first test of of the efficacy of Obama's presidency -- fair or not.
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