The Lonely Centrist

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Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Candidate Races: A Good Night for Centrists and Democrats

Quick thoughts on last night's off-year elections:

Centrists have a good night, which this year means Democrats have a good night.

State Races:

Virginia: In the night's most watched races, Democrats held onto two governorships. In Virginia, Democratic Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine defeated the Republican Attorney General Jerry Kilgore 51.5% to 46.3%, with liberal Republican Russ Potts, running as independent, finishing with just 2%. Kaine's margin is slightly better than that by which Democrat Mark Warner defeated Mark Earley four years ago, but the difference can be attributed to the presence of Potts in the race. Virginia is not so "red" as some think, and Kaine won by rolling up large margins in suburban Washington. Kilgore tried to tag Kaine as a classic liberal but couldn't really make the charge stick - Kaine probably is more liberal than Warner but he ran as a centrist and benefited from his connection with the popular Warner, a conservative Democrat. Bush made a late appearance for Kilgore, with no real effect except that, according to veteran analyst Larry Sabato, it may have cost Kilgore "a few votes." Republican Bill Bolling appears to have won the race for Lt. Governor, while in the Attorney General's race, Republican Bob McDonnell holds a very narrow lead over Democrat Creigh Deeds in a race that will probably result in a recount. Democrats appear to have picked up one seat in the state House of Delegates, which would still leave the GOP with a hefty 59-39 majority.

New Jersey: Democrat Jon Corzine was a somewhat surprisingly easy victory, 53%-44%, over Doug Forrester in this Democratic state.

In short, both states opted for the status quo, by comfortable but not overwhelming margins. Nothing too earth shattering. The results were no doubt influenced by the President's sagging popularity, but absent a big GOP year any respectable Democrat would be favored in New Jersey, and Kaine probably would have triumphed absent a remarkably popular Bush.

Mayoral Races of Note:

Manchester: A bright spot for Republicans is the victory of Frank Guinta over incumbent Democrat Bob Baines, in a race in which John Kerry and other national figures campaigned for Baines.

New York: Michael Bloomberg, after a rocky start, has been a remarkably successful mayor, and easily won reelection, 70%-30% over Bronx borough President Fernando Ferrer. This is the 4th straight mayoral election Republicans have won in this very Democratic city. Bloomberg runs largely independent of the national party, and voters stuck solidly with a mayor who is getting the job done in a common sense fashion.

Detroit: Two Democrats squared off, and the callow, far left "hip-hop mayor" incumbent, Kwame Kilpatrick, went down to defeat against Freeman Hendrix, a former aide to Kilpatrick's predecessor, the more moderate Dennis Archer. Again, voters saw that rhetoric and symbolism weren't working, and went with the more centrist option.

St. Paul: In this very liberal city, orthodox Democrat Chris Coleman clobbered Bush-endorsing Democratic incumbent Randy Kelly. This one will be sweet for Democrats - heretics are always more hated than infidels.

San Diego: No results at this time. Late polls showed Republican Jerry Sanders with a narrow lead over Democrat Donna Frye. Update: Sanders wins.

I see no powerful trends here. Republicans are hurting, but the drop was slight - no real sign of a "wave" that might break for Democrats in 2006, and lots of time for the GOP to correct its problems.

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