The establishment candidate beats the tea party candidate in Alabama primary runoff
Democrat Terry McAuliffe defeats Ken Cuccinelli in race for Virginia governor
Bill de Blasio heads toward becoming first Democrat to lead NYC in over 20 years
Chris Christie easily takes another term as New Jersey governor
Going into Election Day 2013, there was little doubt that Chris Christie was going to win his run for re-election. The only unknown was what he would say in his victory speech.
The tough-talking Republican headliner has the most buzz of any potential 2016 Republican presidential candidate and he created more by delivering a speech that was aimed at both New Jersey and a national audience.
“And you don’t just show up six months before an election. You show up four years before one. And you don’t just take no for an answer the first time no has happened. You keep going back and trying more,” Christie told the audience in Asbury Park.
Republican strategist and CNN contributor Alex Castellanos called Christie’s address “an announcement speech.” And it will only serve to stir up more speculation that despite his saying that he’s seriously considering a run in 2016, his mind is already made up.
CNN exit polls show Christie performed well with groups that normally cast ballots for Democrats. Exit polls indicate the GOP governor grabbing 57% of the female vote and winning all age groups other than those 18-29. Christie also took a fifth of the African-American vote and half - 51% - of Latinos, a much better performance than most Republicans in recent elections.
Overall, Christie bested his little-known Democratic challenger, Barbara Buono, by a 60%-38% margin with about 99% of the vote counted.
Virginia and New Jersey are the only two states that hold elections for governor in the year after a presidential contest. And Virginia’s race provided the only real drama as votes were counted.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe, buoyed by strong results from voters in Northern Virginia, has defeated Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in the race for Virginia’s governor, CNN projects.
While both campaigns took on national issues, such as the partial government shutdown earlier this year and the health care law’s flawed rollout, the race was nasty from the outset and devolved into incessant mudslinging and personal attacks. Voters throughout the commonwealth of Virginia were bombarded by negative ads.
With nearly all of the vote counted, McAuliffe held a 48%-45% margin over Cuccinelli. Libertarian Robert Sarvis pulled in about 7% of the vote, which could have made the difference.
What might make results from Virginia – along with races including a gubernatorial contest in New Jersey, a race for mayor in New York City and a primary battle for a U.S. House seat in Alabama – most interesting is what they may tell us about 2014 midterms and the 2016 race for the White House.
And as a more moderate Republican won in New Jersey and a conservative Republican lost in Virginia, the establishment candidate defeated the tea party candidate in a Republican primary runoff for a congressional seat from Alabama’s 1st district.
Bradley Byrne, a former state senator, defeated businessman Dean Young in the race, according to CNN projections. The contest was seen as a precursor to more intraparty fights ahead in primary elections for the 2014 midterms and was the first time Republican voters could weigh in on which direction they want to take their party after the partial federal government shutdown in October.
Here’s a closer look at some of the night’s most interesting races and ballot measures:
A nasty race in purple Virginia
The McAuliffe and Cuccinelli campaigns engaged in nasty political warfare that took over the airwaves in Virginia. McAuliffe made sure women were aware of Cuccinelli’s support of “personhood” legislation that critics say restricts abortion and some forms of birth control, while Cuccinelli frequently highlighted federal investigations of an electric car company that McAuliffe co-founded.
McAuliffe and Democrats pinned Cuccinelli as a tea party activist, linking him to conservative lawmakers in Washington who initiated a strategy that eventually led to last month’s government shutdown.
What Christie’s 2013 re-election bid tells us about 2016
Early exit polls indicate the GOP governor grabbing 55% of the female vote, and winning all age groups other than those 18 to 29. Christie also took one fifth of the African-American vote and half of the Latino vote, a much better performance than most Republicans in recent elections.
“I know tonight, a dispirited America, angry with their dysfunctional government in Washington, looks to New Jersey to say, ‘Is what I think happening really happening? Are people really coming together. Are we really working, African-Americans and Hispanics, suburbanites and city dwellers, farmers and teachers. Are we really all working together.’
“Let me give the answer to everyone who is watching tonight: Under this government our first job is to get the job done and as long as I’m governor that job will always, always be finished,”
NYC picks first Democratic mayor in a generation
At the center of the race were disagreements over taxes and the city’s controversial “stop-and-frisk” program backed by incumbent Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
De Blasio campaigned on a promise to raise taxes on those earning more than $500,000 a year to pay for universal prekindergarten, an idea Lhota vehemently opposed.
Deep-pocketed Republicans pick winner in Alabama
Byrne, the establishment candidate, far outraised Young, the tea party candidate, thanks to major help from the business wing of the party, including the Chamber of Commerce. He also garnered endorsements from establishment figures, including several Republican House leaders.
However, despite that support for smaller tea party personalities, Young was largely ignored by the national tea party groups. Tea Party Express, Club For Growth and FreedomWorks – three of the largest national tea party groups – sat on the sidelines of the intra-party fight.
Also on the ballot
New York is not the only major city holding a mayoral contest on Tuesday. Voters in Boston, Seattle, Detroit and Cleveland are also electing mayors.
And voters in six states will be weighing in on 31 ballot measures. Among the most interesting: genetically modified food labeling in Washington state, a proposed special marijuana tax in Colorado, secession in 11 Colorado counties and a push to raise New Jersey’s minimum wage to $8.25 per hour.
Colorado voters overwhelmingly approved the marijuana tax 65% to 35%.
Washington voters rejected genetically modified food labeling with 55% of voters opposing it.
And New Jersey voters agreed to increase the minimum wage.
Voters in 11 Colorado counties also voted on a Colorado succession measure.
The fact that Chris Christie rolled to a second term in New Jersey and Terry McAuliffe won in Virginia wasn’t a surprise. Public opinion polls have consistently shown both men in the lead.
CNN’s Kevin Bohn, Leigh Ann Caldwell and John Helton contributed to this report.