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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The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.
Alexander Acosta was confirmed Thursday night as Labor secretary, officially filling out President Trump's cabinet on day 98 of his presidency. Nine Democrats joined every present Republican in voting to approve Acosta, with the final tally at 60-38. Trump's first choice for Labor secretary, Andrew Puzder, withdrew his nomination after taking criticism for hiring undocumented workers and for other matters in his personal life.
"Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) plans to introduce legislation today designed to help federal agencies update their aging technology—and this time, it has White House backing. Hurd worked alongside White House Office of American Innovation officials Reed Cordish and Chris Liddell in crafting and tweaking the legislation, and called their partnership an 'invaluable' part of the process."
"The State Department plans to cut 2,300 U.S. diplomats and civil servants—about 9 percent of the Americans in its workforce worldwide—as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson presses ahead with his task of slashing the agency’s budget, according to people familiar with the matter. The majority of the job cuts, about 1,700, will come through attrition, while the remaining 600 will be done via buyouts."
"Despite pressure from the White House, House GOP leaders determined Thursday night that they didn’t have the votes to pass a rewrite of the Affordable Care Act and would not seek to put their proposal on the floor on Friday. A late push to act on health care had threatened the bipartisan deal to keep the government open for one week while lawmakers crafted a longer-term spending deal. Now, members are likely to approve the short-term spending bill when it comes to the floor and keep the government open past midnight on Friday."