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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Following their meeting, President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico and Republican nominee for president, Donald Trump, briefly addressed the media, with Peña Nieto subtly rebuking Trump's rhetoric. While he spoke respectfully about Trump, Peña Nieto did not back down, saying that free trade has proved effective and that illegal immigration into America from the south has decreased over the last ten years while the flow of people and drugs into Mexico has increased. Additionally, he stressed that Mexicans in America are "honest" and "deserve respect." Trump responded, calling some Mexicans "tremendous people" while saying others are "beyond reproach." Trump laid out five important issues, including the end of illegal immigration and the ability for either country to build a wall or border. However, Trump said he did not discuss who would pay for the wall.
A divided Supreme Court "refused Wednesday to reinstate North Carolina’s voter identification requirement and keep just 10 days of early in-person voting. The court rejected a request by Gov. Pat McCrory and other state officials to delay a lower court ruling that found the state law was tainted by racial discrimination."
"Police say a woman walked into U.S. Rep. Danny Davis' office on Chicago's West Side, drank out of a bottle of hand sanitizer, poured the sanitizer over herself and set herself on fire with a lighter." The Democrat wasn't in the office at the time.
"The Department of Health and Human Services on Wednesday awarded 44 states, four tribes and the District of Columbia a combined $53 million in grants to expand access to treatment for opioid use disorders and ultimately aimed at reducing the number of opioid-related deaths." But HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell and drug czar Michael Botticelli both called on Congress to approve the $1.1 billion Obama has requested to fight the opioid crisis.