Republican candidate Robert McDonnell swept the Virginia gubernatorial election with a 17% margin with a platform focused primarily on job creation and fiscal responsibility. The race represents a 23% shift in voter alignment from the 2008 Presidential Election when Obama carried the state by 6%.
Republican candidate Chris Christie took the traditionally liberal Garden State. He defeated incumbent Jon Corzine after a long, vitriolic campaign season. Christie will become the first Republican elected official at the state level since 1997.
Dede Scozzafava, the liberal in disguise, succeeded in siphoning off enough votes to prevent a Hoffman victory. However, Hoffman did manage to reign in 46% of the vote, a strong showing for a candidate who was unknown a month ago. Owens took 49%. This loss falls on the shoulders of the officials who chose Scozzafava as the party’s nominee. The liberal candidate was a poor choice that elicited a harsh response from local Republicans. Had the party initially chosen a conservative candidate like Hoffman, this election could have ended differently.
The Virginia election was the biggest win for Republican candidates, and should perhaps serve as the paradigm for the 2010 congressional elections. McDonnell’s campaign focused on tangible, fiscal policy changes and a commitment to job growth in his state. In its national campaign, the Republican party should focus on the fiscal issues and size of government rather than social issues.
The NY-23 loss was unfortunate, and it probably didn’t help that the “Republican” broke with the GOP and endorsed her Democrat competitor. It was also unfortunate that the NRCC chose to run ads against the Conservative candidate rather than the Democrat Owens. The Democrats won this race because of Republican incompetence, and a refusal to accept the legitimacy of grassroots complaints against the establishment. Despite the results, there is a silver lining in this election. Scozzafava’s actions have finally exposed the true identity of liberal RINOs, and the GOP must finally accept that the party wins when it promotes a platform of fiscal conservatism and respect for the constitution. If the GOP leadership ignores this lesson again, they will undermine the Party in the 2010 midterm elections.