In Today’s News: Elections Produce Mixed Signals

In state and local elections around the United States Tuesday, a Republican was re-elected governor of New Jersey and Democrats took the governor’s mansion in Virginia and city hall in New York City.

Moderate conservative Republican Chris Christie was re-elected governor of New Jersey in a landslide. He bested his Democratic challenger, State Senator Barbara Buono, collecting 60.5 percent of the vote, compared with her 38 percent. Christie’s handling of the Hurricane Sandy disaster in 2012 earned him widespread public support. Political analysts noted that the size of Christie’s victory places him at the forefront of possible Republican candidates for president in 2016.

New York City elected a Democrat, Bill de Blasio, as mayor for the first time in 20 years. He won with a resounding 73 percent of the vote, compared with 24 percent for his Republican rival, Joe Lhota. De Blasio, a liberal, promised to address what he referred to as “a tale of two cities,” the growing divide between rich and poor in New York.

In the Virginia governor’s race, Democrat Terry McAuliffe, a key ally of Bill and Hillary Clinton, narrowly beat his Republican challenger, socially conservative Ken Cuccinelli, in this pivotal presidential swing state. McAuliffe took a smaller-than-expected 48 percent of the vote, compared with Cuccinelli’s 45.5 percent. Cuccinelli had the support of the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party.

The beleaguered city of Detroit elected its first white mayor, Mike Duggan, since the 1970’s. In the 2010 United States Census, Detroit had a population of 713,777 residents, down from a peak of 1,849,568, in 1950. The state of Michigan took over the city in March 2013, and it subsequently filed for bankruptcy, the only large American city to ever declare itself insolvent.

In an Alabama congressional primary runoff, moderate Republican Bradley Byrne topped his socially conservative opponent, Dean Young, 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent. Analysts characterized the race as a hard-fought victory for the business wing of the highly splintered GOP over the Tea Party wing.

Colorado voters rejected a sweeping school-financing reform measure. The state’s governor, John W. Hickenlooper, had strongly endorsed the measure, promising that it would deliver smaller class sizes, full-day kindergarten, and smarter education spending.

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