A New Hope (& Change)
(With apologies to George Lucas and Star Wars episode 4.)
The President’s numerous, and recent, trips to Virginia and New Jersey notwithstanding, Republicans were elected governors of those states. The thrill (up the leg) is gone one year on, and when policies instead of history-making is more of a draw, two conservatives are elected. (Christie is very pro-life, and is the first Republican governor in 16 years. McDonnell is the first Republican for Virginia in 8 years.) While Democrats are saying that the reasons are mostly due to local issues, the fact that they brought in the President so much for these races tends to discount their own analysis. Bringing in a President that both these states voted for in 2008 was not enough to get the job done.
Hope and change indeed. Just not the kind the President represents.
In the small but closely-watched race in New York’s 23rd district, where the Republican dropped out, only to endorse the Democrat, the fact that Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman managed to garner 45% of the vote is astounding. Coming in only 4.5 points behind Democrat Bill Owens is amazing for a 3rd party candidate. While it’s likely that some of the absentee ballots cast early, before Dede Scozzafava essentially dropped out, may have gone to Hoffman, it probably wouldn’t have been enough to win it. The main issue here is that, as Brit Hume on Fox News Channel put it, this is why you have primaries. Scozzafava was chosen by the party machine. Clearly, the base, even in New York, is farther to the right than the party realizes. When you run a good, conservative campaign, you can both energize the base and bring in independents (ask Ronald Reagan … or John McCain). This is a tough, if small, loss in a district that has been reliably Republican, but the party dropped the ball and misread its constituents.
Still, giving up NY-23 for New Jersey and Virginia is a trade I’d take.
Closer to (my) home, the city of Atlanta is poised to elect it’s first white mayor in 35 years. Mary Norwood got 46% of the vote last night, which kicks in a runoff in a few weeks with 2nd place challenger Kasim Reed. For a long time, it has been my opinion that Atlanta needed an African-American mayor to avoid spurious charges of racism. Freaknik, an annual party generally attended by college students from historically black colleges, was heavily curtailed by 1998 and ultimately relocated to Daytona Beach under Mayor Bill Campbell. If he had been white, he would have been labeled "racist" and that would have been an unfair distraction from the actual debate. As it was, he was labeled an "Uncle Tom" for doing so, even though residents of all colors agreed that it was getting out of hand. He did what had to be done, all for good reasons, but I think the racial overtones would have not allowed a mayor to do the job properly. That Atlanta seems ready to elect a white mayor is a good sign that the race issue is diminishing, but time will tell if Norwood is elected.
One issue-related referendum I’d like to point out is that in Maine (as liberal as they come in New England) they overturned a law (that had not taken effect yet) that would legalize same-sex marriage. By a 53-47 margin, the people rejected what the legislature had passed. Yes, the people elected those legislators, but apparently the peoples’ representatives stopped representing them at some point. As I understand it, when it comes to referendums, same-sex marriage is 0 for 31. I’m detecting a trend.
And finally, in a much smaller race, blogger Scott Ott, evangelical Christian and author of the wonderful, satirical blog ScrappleFace, lost to the incumbent for County Executive of Lehigh County, Pennsylvania by the small margin of 49-51. The election was decided by 1,000 votes among the 40,000 case. Scott put up a great campaign, and for a first-time political-office-seeker, this is fantastic, and shows that his conservative principles, especially with regards to fiscal policy, hit a nerve. I hope this is not the end of Scott’s political aspirations.
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