Thursday, November 7, 2013, 07:38
Democrats win NYC and Virginia
By Agencies in New York

Several races seen as litmus tests for future national voting

Democrats win NYC and Virginia
Democrat Terry McAuliffe celebrates winning the Virginia governorship in Tysons Corner, Virginia.

 (Alex Wong /Getty Images VIA AFP)

Democrats retook Republican strongholds in New York’s city hall and the Virginia governor’s mansion on Tuesday, while a Republican with potential presidential hopes won reelection easily in New Jersey.

Tuesday’s vote was the first major round of balloting in the United States since President Barack Obama won a second term in the White House last year. Some races were seen as litmus tests for future national voting.

In the nation’s largest city New York, old-style progressive Bill de Blasio became its first Democratic mayor in a generation, specifically since 1989, even though New York is overall largely Democrat.

Another key race, for the governorship of the southern state of Virginia, turned out to be a nail-biter, but in the end Democrat Terry McAuliffe won in the otherwise strongly Republican state bordering the nation’s capital.

New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie handily defeated his Democrat challenger, earning a second four-year term in a race some pundits said would serve as a platform for a future presidential bid.

Christie is a straight-talking moderate Republican who won much praise for his handling of the devastation wrought on his state last year by Superstorm Sandy.

He is increasingly seen as a contender for the Republican nomination for the White House in 2016 given his pragmatism, charisma and ability to command cross-party support.

Obama called De Blasio, McAauliffe and Boston mayor-elect Martin Walsh to congratulate them.

Meanwhile, the race in the Big Apple — in which de Blasio long had been tipped as the heavy favorite to replace billionaire Michael Bloomberg — was one of several seen as a barometer of public opinion ahead of congressional elections in 2014.

But analysts warned that the results in Virginia and the Northeastern state of New Jersey were unlikely to be indicative of congressional and governors’ races next year in more conservative sections of the country.

Meanwhile, Virginia’s changing demographics — with a rural-suburban split and significant military and government employee populations — make it a litmus test for the political mood ahead of the next presidential vote in 2016.

Mayoral elections were also held on Tuesday in the rustbelt city of Detroit, which recently declared bankruptcy. Democrat Mike Duggan won, though his job holds little power as the city is now run by a state-appointed emergency administrator.

In Boston, traumatized by the Boston Marathon bombings in April, Democrat Walsh replaced outgoing Mayor Thomas Menino. Menino, also a Democrat, departs after 20 years in office, the longest in Boston mayoral history.

AFP — Reuters