More on the GOP victories in VA and NJ

Carl Spitzer WinBlows at LAVABIT.COM
Mon Dec 7 20:23:14 MST 2009


Republicans celebrate, Democrats talk of rebuilding



By Jim Nolan 
Published: November 4, 2009 

An ebullient Republican Party Chairman Michael Steele asserted today
that GOP victories in governors’ races in Virginia and New Jersey
demonstrate “a transcendent party” on the move again. 

Gov. Timothy M. Kaine, chairman of the Democratic National Committee,
said meantime that nothing about the election returns amounted to a
repudiation of President Barack Obama. 

Bob McDonnell, the former attorney general who trounced Democrat Creigh
Deeds in the race for governor, led a GOP sweep of the statewide offices
yesterday. He’s expected to hold his first news conference as
governor-elect later this afternoon. 

The victories by McDonnell, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling and Attorney
General-elect Ken Cuccinelli also extended coattails to the House of
Delegates races, where Republicans made gains. 

The Associated Press this morning called an additional House race for
the Republicans, giving them a gain of at least five. One race involving
a Democratic incumbent remains too close to call. Republicans entered
Tuesday with 53 seats to the Democrats’ 45. Two independents usually
vote with the Republicans. 

We’re not crowing, we’re just smiling,” Steele said in a television
interview. “I think it’s a bellwether for the party. ...  You look at
where we were nine months ago.” 

Steele said he believes Chris Christie’s victory in New Jersey and
McDonnell’s win in Virginia show that the GOP has “really found its
voice again” after sustaining damaging losses last year. 

Kaine told reporters in Richmond today that losses by Democrats “will
occasion some reassessment and rebuilding,” but that the party will
bounce back quicker because of gains it had made until yesterday. 

Kaine also said he did not think his job as DNC chairman was in danger
as a result of the poor showing, and that he had already spoken to the
White House about making plans for the 2010 campaigns. 

The governor said that Deeds went up against a “historic headwind” in
Virginia, which has elected governors from the opposite party of the
White House since 1977. 

Repeating themes made earlier on the television talk show circuit, he
said that McDonnell, who defeated Deeds for attorney general four years
ago by just 360 votes, had the advantages of having held statewide
office, including name recognition. 

Kaine, however, said he did not have an immediate explanation as to why
so many independent voters favored McDonnell, who led a sweep of the
three statewide offices. 

“We have to scrutinize that carefully,” Kaine said. “I don’t really have
an answer for that right now. ...voters on the other side were a little
bit more energized than voters on our side.” 

Still, Kaine said, because of the gains Democrats made in Virginia over
the past 10 years, including Obama capturing the state in November, they
have a “higher platform” from which to rebuild. 

Kaine said McDonnell operated a “disciplined, focused” campaign. He said
he would work with the Republican to make the transition between
administrations “as seamless as we can.” 

Earlier, Kaine squared off on NBC’s “Today” show with House Republican
Whip Eric I. Cantor of Henrico County. 

“Everyone knew that Creigh was the underdog in this race,” Kaine said on
“Today.” “In the rematch he just couldn’t improve upon where he was four
years ago.” 

Cantor, meantime, said Virginians voted Republican because of their
concern about the economy and the “one-way street” policies of the Obama
administration and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, which he called the
“politics of attack.” 

“It was really about the policies the president was promoting,” Cantor
said. “People have clearly made a choice.” 

Kaine said one of the most important races yesterday was the special
House election in a New York district where a Republican withdrew after
opposition from conservatives, resulting in a Democratic upset in an
area largely represented by the GOP since the Civil War. 

“Eric and his colleagues put nearly $1 million in that race and got
chased out by the right wing,” Kaine said. He added that similar schisms
between moderate and conservative Republicans are playing out in other

Cantor responded that the “Virginia model shows that when we’re united
as a party independents are attracted to our message.” 

(Times-Dispatch staff writers Tom Kapsidelis and Andrew Cain contributed
to this report.)


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