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November 05, 2013 9:34 AM Election Day!

By Ed Kilgore

So it’s an off-year general election day, sort of like a brief jolt of the joy juice for political junkies to get them to the next real election day.

But it’s real enough today in Virginia and New Jersey, which hold statewide elections, and in countless municipalities (here a link to a U.S. Conference of Mayors list just of mayoral elections this year), most famously New York, whose mayoral contest lost most of its mystery when the Democratic primary ended. There’s one special congressional Republican primary runoff today, in Alabama, which is being billed as a crucial post-shutdown battle between Establishment GOPers and Teavangelicals. And there’s a special state senate election in Washington State that could affect control of that chamber.

In terms of national media, of course, it’s the two gubernatorial races that will get the most attention, and they will, of course, be interpreted as referenda over the national parties and national policies. Thus, in Virginia, Terry McAuliffe’s likely victory over Ken Cuccinelli will be “about” Virginians’ reaction to the government shutdown, and perhaps Cooch’s social issues extremism; and Cooch himself has sought in the final days to cast the contest as a “referendum on Obamacare.” People will be able to read a lot of things into the results that are and aren’t there.

And the New Jersey results will probably get a lot more attention than, frankly, they deserve, as Paul Waldman explained yesterday at TAP:

Only two states, New Jersey and Virginia, hold their gubernatorial elections in odd years [actually, it’s in this odd year; Kentucky, Louisiana and Mississippi hold theirs in 2015]. Since there’s generally a dearth of other political news at that time, Washington-based reporters usually decide that whoever got elected in Virginia is suddenly a national figure with a future as a presidential or at least vice-presidential candidate….
This year, however, the Virginia race features two candidates no one much likes: Ken Cuccinelli, who seems like he might launch a campaign to reintroduce witch trials to the commonwealth if he became governor, and Terry McAuliffe, an almost comically smarmy operator whose most profound talent lies in separating people from their money. Obviously, neither of those two is ever going to be president, so that leaves reporters with the other race up in the Garden State.
So when Chris Christie wins that race easily, as he will, we’ll be treated to a brief but overwhelming deluge of stories about Christie’s 2016 presidential candidacy. He certainly sounds like he’s ready to start running, and it’s safe to say the press corps would love it if he did.

Paul says Christie-mania is attributable to his personal style, so different from today’s usual boring message-disciplined pols. I’d add he’s one of the major protagonists in the “struggle for the soul of the Republican Party” meme wherein he’s the designated 2016 slayer of the GOP’s crazy people. I haven’t taken a poll, but I’d guess over half the Beltway punditocracy has already decided it’s going to be a Clinton-Christie contest in 2016, so non-stop coverage of Christie will begin tomorrow.

I’m going to be doing some live-blogging of results—at least in Virginia, a state I know pretty well—tonight as long as it’s useful, with some ruminations on other results. Then and now, feel free to talk about races you know about in the comment thread. I actually got calls (several) yesterday about a county ballot initiative affecting land development. I’m sure there are a vast number of contests today that are generating much local excitement.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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