Election Day is here, with a split verdict expected in the New Jersey and Virginia gubernatorial races. But even though Gov. Chris Christie (R) and Terry McAuliffe (D) are heavy favorites, respectively, there are many unanswered questions we’ll be tracking.
— New Jersey: Will Christie hit the magic 60% mark? He’s above it in two public polls released this week, below it in two others. If he does, it would provide the governor with a powerful talking point looking ahead to 2016. As important: Will Christie top 40% among Hispanic voters, a key voting bloc in New Jersey, and a high-water benchmark for George W. Bush‘s 2004 presidential campaign? Finally, will New Jersey Republicans pick up the five state Senate seats necessary to take over the upper chamber? It’s a long-shot, but read GovBeat’s Reid Wilson for the five races to watch — where the GOP needs a clean sweep.
— Virginia: McAuliffe is leading, but will he sweep the suburban strongholds? Pay close attention to Prince William, Loudoun Cos. (NoVa), Henrico and Chesterfield Cos. (Richmond) and Virginia Beach City and Chesapeake City (Tidewater). Now-Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) won all of these counties by double-digit margins; Ken Cuccinelli (R) could lose all of them, except Chesterfield (where Cuccinelli’s margins will be a telling bellwether). If that happened, it would signal how off-kilter Cuccinelli’s message was to middle-of-the-road voters. Meanwhile, pay close attention to the AG race. If Mark Herring (D) defeats Mark Obenshain (R), Dems should hold every statewide office for the first time since the Nixon administration in what was recently a GOP-friendly state.
Other races to watch: Will the business community be able to help one of their own, Bradley Byrne (R), against an underfunded socially-conservative activist Dean Young (R) in the AL-01 runoff? How will Wall Street react to an anticipated Bill de Blasio romp in NYC? In the Boston mayoral race, will a coalition of labor and minority support propel Marty Walsh (D) to a come-from-behind victory over more-moderate John Connolly (D)? And in Washington state, millions of dollars are being poured into a bellwether state Senate special election — which could offer clues about the national environment, and affect the balance of power in a divided state legislature.
Christie Stumps in Enemy Territory on Campaign’s Final Day
Outside Democratic groups investing their money downballot.
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"Senate GOP leaders picked up support Wednesday for their plan to pass a scaled-back bill to repeal a handful of elements in the current health law, and then open negotiations with House Republicans to try to bring together their two very different bills."
"Paul Manafort, who served as a top aide to President Trump’s 2016 campaign, on Tuesday provided congressional investigators notes he took during a Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer that has emerged as a focus in the investigation of Russian interference in the election. Manafort’s submission, which came as he was interviewed in a closed session by staff members for the Senate Intelligence Committee, could offer a key contemporaneous account of the June 2016 session."
By the narrowest of margins, the Senate voted 51-50 this afternoon to begin debate on the House's legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins defected from the GOP, but Vice President Pence broke a tie. Sen. John McCain returned from brain surgery to cast his vote.