It’s election day 2013, and just because it’s an odd year doesn’t mean that there aren’t some important races occurring. Today, the fate of two governor’s mansions, a number of state legislative seats and many mayoral races are up for grabs. What are the big races to watch today? Here are some key picks.
Governors: Both Virginia and New Jersey will be electing governors today, and national eyes are on both races. The governor’s race in Virginia is expected to be a nail-biter, even with Democrat Terry McAuliffe in a single digit lead over Republican Ken Cuccinelli. Who wins is expected to depend on whether Democrats can turn out the women voters, who are far more supportive of McAuliffe, or if Republicans can rally the Christian conservative base enamored with Cuccinelli. With heavy hitters from both parties stumping for the candidates and a massive last minute get out the vote effort, it really is still anyone’s game.
The New Jersey governor’s race, on the other hand, isn’t much of a nail biter at all. Republican Chris Christie is expected to easily win over his opponent, Democratic candidate state Sen. Barbara Buono. In this race, the question isn’t really whether he will win but how much he will win by, a situation deliberately created when Gov. Christie decided to opt for a special senate election two weeks ago to ensure that there would be less reason for Democrats to come out on November 5. In this case, a massive win is expected to be a set up for a 2016 presidential bid, a scenario Gov. Christie hasn’t put much effort into denying.
In Virginia down ticket races are involved as well, with Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General both up for grabs. The most attention has been paid to the Lieutenant Governor race, where the Republican candidate has been so far out in right field that even his own party has edged away from him.
Legislatures: The Virginia House of Delegates is up for re-election, and top of the ticket issues could possibly flip the House from Republican to Democratic control, although that would be a pretty major shift. New Jersey is even less likely to flip from GOP to Democratic in their legislature, especially with so little going on at the top of the ticket.
Mayors: A number of cities are holding off year elections for mayor today. New York City appears to be poised to elect Democrat Bill de Blasio, who beat a tight field of other Democrats, including City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and former Rep. Anthony Weiner, for the party nomination earlier this fall. A number of other cities — such as Seattle, Wash., St. Paul, Minn., Houston, Texas, and other — have strong incumbents who aren’t facing serious challenges. In Detroit, Mich., the new mayor could depend on who looks like he will be best able to help the city recover from bankruptcy. Meanwhile, Minneapolis, who is about to attempt instant run off voting and a “ranked choice” voting system, has 35 candidates on their ballot and no real frontrunner heading into election day.
Ballot initiatives: Some of the most interesting races this off election aren’t for offices but revolve around policy. Colorado’s Amendment 66 would raise additional money for public schools via a tax increase.
Also, Washington will vote on Initiative 522, which would force companies to label products that contain genetically modified foods and seeds. There’s just a little time left before this initiative is decided, but you can still tell Monsanto to stop funding campaigns opposing GMO labeling.
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