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ELECTION 2013: Gov. Christie cruises in New Jersey

by THOMAS BEAUMONT Associated Press on November 06, 2013 10:34 AM

His pitch bipartisan and inclusive, Republican Gov. Chris Christie cruised to re-election Tuesday in Democratic-leaning New Jersey amid talk of a possible 2016 presidential run. Democrat Terry McAuliffe narrowly won the Virginia governor’s race, leading what Democrats hoped would be their first sweep of statewide offices in decades.

New Yorkers chose Bill de Blasio as mayor, electing the first Democrat since 1989.

In other, widely scattered off-year balloting, Houston rejected a plan to turn the Astrodome into a convention hall, likely dooming it to demolition, while Colorado agreed to tax marijuana at 25 percent. Alabama Republicans chose the establishment-backed Bradley Byrne over a tea party-supported rival in a special congressional runoff election in the conservative state.

Taken together, the results in individual states and cities yielded no broad judgments on how the American public feels about today’s two biggest national political debates — government spending and health care — which are more likely to shape next fall’s midterm elections.

Even so, Tuesday’s voting had local impact, and it mattered in ways big and small.

The outcomes of both governors’ races and the special Alabama GOP congressional primary signaled that pragmatism won out over ideology.

In Virginia, McAuliffe turned back a late-game push by state Attorney General Ken Cuccinnelli, a Republican. Both Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton made appearances for McAuliffe in the final weeks, and so did President Barack Obama over the weekend. The Democrat also dramatically outspent his GOP rival in TV ads in the final weeks.

Cuccinelli had sought to prove that a tea party-backed conservative could win the governorship of a swing-voting state. He brought big-name supporters to the state, too, including Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal — all potential presidential contenders.

Also with potential presidential overtones, Christie’s resounding victory was intended to send a message to the GOP that a Republican with an inclusive pitch could win in Democratic territory.

“As your governor, it has never mattered where someone is from, whether they voted for me or not, what the color of their skin was, or their political party,” Christie said in his victory speech. “For me, being governor has always been about getting the job done, first.”

Later this month, Christie assumes the chairmanship of the Republican Governors Association, giving him another platform for a possible national campaign.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, the party’s internal squabbles played out in the special congressional runoff primary election in Alabama. Byrne, the choice of the GOP establishment, won against tea party favorite Dean Young.

In New York, de Blasio won handily over Republican Joe Lhota after Michael Bloomberg’s dozen-year tenure. Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Minneapolis, Seattle and other cities also chose mayors.

And Colorado voters agreed to tax marijuana at 25 percent and apply the proceeds to regulating the newly legalized drug and building schools. And 10 rural counties refused to approve secession from the state. One county narrowly voted to secede, but it was a symbolic gesture.

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