Friday, March 27, 2009

Off-year elections show encouraging signs for the GOP

Republicans won the three federal elections held in 2008 after Obama's November landslide win (Chambliss was re-elected to the U.S. Senate from Georgia, and Republicans won two house contests in Louisiana, including Louisiana's most Democratic district, the New Orleans-based 2nd congressional district, which has not been represented by a Republican since the 1800s).

Next Tuesday, March 31st, the party and Michael Steele, the new chairman at the helm of the RNC, will face an early, crucial test. A special election will be held in New York's 20th congressional district, vacant after Gov. Patterson's appointment of Rep. Kirstin Gillibrand to Hillary's senate seat. The 20th congressional district is slightly Republican (+3 R) and was held by Republican John Sweeney until 2006, when he lost his seat to conservative, Blue Dog Democrat Gillibrand. The upstate district stretches along New York's eastern border, taking in the far-flung NYC exurban areas and the more rural areas, up to the Adirondacks, Catskill Mountains, and Hudson Valley.

State Assembly leader Jim Tedisco is running on the Republican side and Wall Street Businessman Scott Murphy is representing the Democratic party. Murphy faces fire for his Wall Street dealings, a major concern especially for New Yorkers who have lost many of their savings and investments in scandal-ridden Wall Street, which is practically next door to this district. Murphy's anti-death penalty views--even for known Islamic terrorists--have also been criticized. Yet, this is still a close race, with most polls showing either candidate leading by just a point or two.

We predict this will be a close race, and despite the millions spent by outside liberal special interest groups, we predict a win by Tedisco is the realm of 3-5 points. The Republican base will turn out, but the Democrats will have trouble producing the momentum and turnout needed on their side. If you want to help push Tedisco across the finish line and ensure another seat flips to the GOP, visit and make a last minute donation.

Later this year, the Republicans have great opportunities in November's gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey. New Jersey always seems like fools' gold for the GOP, but every once in a while, the stars align just right and New Jerseyans eventually tire of Democratic party corruption (see Christine Todd Whitman's win in 1993 and re-election in 1997). Gov. Jon Corzine's approval ratings are at an anemic 30 percent. Corzine faces voters' wrath for slashing state jobs, raising taxes, and his former work for Goldman-Sachs. Polls show Republican U.S. Attorney Chris Christie, who is running on reform platform, with an 8-9 point lead over Corzine.

In Virginia, the Republicans have great opportunities in November's gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey. The GOP has rallied around Attorney General Bob McDonnell in VA, while the Democrats face a crowded and divisive primary, and most polls show McDonall leading his probable Democratic proponents. A win here would be a major boost for the GOP, which has not held the governorship in 8 years.

Judging by recent elections in northern Virginia, Republicans have reason to be happy. In January's special election to fill Brian Moran's state house seat, Republican Joe Murray almost won, losing by only 16 votes in the heavily-Democratic, Alexandria-based district just minutes from D.C., scaring the lights out of local Democrats who never expected an election to occur with a margin of less than 20 points, much less an election with a margin of 0.59% !

Recently, a Republican almost won the chairmanship of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors (for KC locals, this is similar to Annabeth Surbaugh's position as chair of the Johnson County Board of Commissioners or Scott Burnett's chairmanship of the Jackson County legislature). Since Republicans only hold two seats on the board in D.C. metro's most heavily-populated and most affluent county. Additionally, a special election just occured for one of the Board of Supervisors seats vacated by the Democrat who ran for chairman--the election was won by a Republican, a change-over in the previously Democratic-held seat.

A Republican does not need to win northern Virginia (Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William, Stafford) to win the state, but the GOP must hold their own and do reasonably well, remaining competitive. If local elections are any indication, the GOP may be more competitive in this region for this fall's gubernatorial race than in many years prior.

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