Races to watch in tomorrow's elections

Tomorrow is election day in many states.  The two biggest races are for governor in Virginia and New Jersey.

In 2009, those two states elected Republican governors, presaging the GOP wave election of 2010 where Republicans took control of the House.  Tomorrow, Democrats are hoping to win both high-profile races to give them some momentum going into the 2018 midterms.

As with 2009, the party out of power in the White House has sought to make an issue of the newly elected president and his popularity.  In Virginia, Republican Ed Gillespie has a shot at a Republican takeover, as he is narrowly trailing Democrat Ralph Northam.

In New Jersey, on the other hand, the issue is not in doubt, as The Hill reports:

Gov. Chris Christie (R) is term-limited, which is probably for the best. The two-term Republican's approval rating is plumbing new depths in the low-teens, according to recent surveys.

Those same polls show Phil Murphy, a Wall Street executive and former U.S. ambassador to Germany, easily leading Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno (R). Murphy is likely to be declared the victor as polls close.

The website also has several other interesting races that Democrats may use to show they are on the rebound – that is, if they win.

Voters head to the polls in a suburban Seattle district to chose a new state senator, after the incumbent Republican passed away earlier this year. The battle between Democrat Manka Dhingra, a county prosecutor, and Republican Jinyoung Lee Englund, a former Capitol Hill staffer, is pricey: It is the most expensive race ever run in Washington State for a position other than governor or U.S. Senator.

And the stakes are high. The winner's party will claim control of the state Senate, which is currently controlled by a coalition of Republicans and a conservative Democrat. If Democrats win the seat, Washington will become just the seventh state in the union in which Democrats hold all levers of government. ...

VIRGINIA HOUSE OF DELEGATES: Under cover of the nasty gubernatorial contest, Republicans are fighting to defend their hold on Virginia's House of Delegates. They control 66 of 100 seats, but most — even GOP operatives — expect Democrats to pick up seats, though almost certainly not enough to wrest the gavel away from the GOP. ...

MAINE'S MEDICAID EXPANSION: Maine voters face four ballot measures on Tuesday, including Question 2, which would expand Medicaid to those who make less than 138 percent of the federal poverty line. Maine is the only New England state that has not adopted expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

New Jersey is one of the deepest blue states in the nation, so a Democratic win there means nothing.  And given that Virginia has become much more Democratic in the last three election cycles, a Democratic win there might be significant, but hardly a sure fire harbinger of the future.

Similarly, the Seattle race is not as important as Dems would have us believe.  True, it used to be a GOP bastion.  But Hillary won 65% of the vote in the district last year thanks to a lot of Microsoft employees moving in.  That fact will be forgotten if, as expected, the Democrat wins.

If Gillespie can pull off the mild upset, it will throw a monkey wrench into the narrative that the GOP is in big trouble in 2018.  It will also give heart to Republican candidates across the country who are trying to figure out how to run a successful campaign in the age of Trump.  Gillespie ran a campaign adopting much of Trump's agenda but barely mentioning the president.  If that formula leads to victory, expect a lot of copycat Republicans in 2018.

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