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It wasn’t long before the Republican Governors Association (RGA) targeted ex-Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, who convincingly crushed a field of rivals for the Democratic governor nomination in his new attempt to get his old job back.
Within minutes of McAuliffe’s victory on Tuesday night, the RGA was ridiculing him as a “career politician and establishment insider.”
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About an hour later, after Jack Ciattarelli won the New Jersey GOP gubernatorial nomination, he slammed Governor Phil Murphy and vowed that the Democratic incumbent who is running for reelection will be “one and ready in 21.”
Virginia and New Jersey are the only two states that hold gubernatorial elections the year after a presidential election. Because of this, they are attracting undue national attention, and Virginia in particular is seen as a trailblazer for the subsequent midterm elections.
The Republican swing of both competitions in 2009 hinted at the GOP wave in the 2010 midterm elections. And Democratic victories in both states in 2017 were followed by a democratic boom in 2018 to win back the House of Representatives.
The GOP is pushing for both governorships to be swapped this year, but it won’t be easy as Virginia – and New Jersey in particular – is slim blue.
In Virginia, familiarity and eligibility gained in the Democratic primary when McAuliffe easily made the gubernatorial nomination over three major rivals that were more diverse but much less known and funded.
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McAuliffe is a long-time close friend and advisor to Bill and Hillary Clinton, chaired the Democratic National Committee from 2001 to 2005, and later led Hillary Clinton’s unsuccessful 2008 presidential campaign. He ran unsuccessfully for Virginia governor in 2009 but won on his second attempt in 2013 . He was banned from re-election by Virginia’s unique law preventing governors from serving consecutive terms.
Following McAuliffe’s win, RGA CEO Dave Rexrode said the GOP “looks forward to uncovering Terry McAuliffe’s litany of broken promises and misdeeds between now and November”.
On Wednesday morning, the RGA launched a new website to highlight the alleged McAuliffe “Record of Corruption, Soft on Crime Policies, and Insider Connections”.
McAuliffe will take on Glenn Youngkin in November, a former private equity CEO who won the Republican nomination during last month’s GOP convention and who has spent a ton of money last month – he already has $ 12 million on his campaign – Dollars Borrowed – To run TV commercials last month that targeted Democrats.
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As a starter for things to come, McAuliffe linked Youngkin Tuesday night with former President Trump, who lost Virginia in the election last November with 10 points to current President Biden.
“We cannot allow Glenn Youngkin to do to Virginia what Donald Trump did to our country,” said McAuliffe. And McAuliffe, underlining his Republican opponent’s earlier comment that a major reason he is running for governor is Trump, stressed, “Glenn Youngkin is running for governor because of Donald Trump. I’m running for governor because of you. “
McAuliffe also praised Biden for his “great leadership,” telling CNN that he spoke to the president shortly after his victory.
Virginia was once a red state, but Republicans haven’t won a statewide election in a dozen years. Kyle Kondik, editor-in-chief of Sabato’s Crystal Ball, a non-partisan election predictor at the University of Virginia Center for Politics, noted that past elections “have been more likely to see Republicans trying to nationalize the race against the Democrats”.
“It’s the opposite this time around as the Democrats are trying to nationalize this race because Donald Trump is relatively unpopular in this state, while the Republicans are trying to pinpoint the race and portray Glenn Youngkin as an outsider, not necessarily a supporter of the former. ” President “, emphasized Kondik.
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Republicans hope that Virginia voters will follow their tendency to elect a governor for the party that failed to win the White House in last year’s presidential election. And the Democrats hope their candidate will do what McAuliffe achieved in 2013 when he became the first candidate in 40 years for the President’s Party to win the Virginia governorate.
“I think McAuliffe is the favorite in this race, but I think he has the potential to get pretty close and be competitive,” said Kondik. “You could see a different kind of electorate that is much more open to choosing Republicans.”
In New Jersey, Ciattarelli quickly took on Murphy, a native of Massachusetts who has lived in Garden State for decades.
“Here’s Phil Murphy’s problem: he didn’t grow up here, never went to school here, never owned a business here. He’s someone else. I’m you,” said Ciattarelli, a native of New Jersey. “I mean, did you see this guy eat pizza?”
“He’s not New Jersey,” emphasized Ciattarelli. “And in January 2022, he’s not our governor.”
And the RGA targeted Murphy for arguing that it was “years of ineffective tax and spending policies”.
Ciattarelli won the GOP nomination by winning nearly half the vote, with two rivals highlighting their support and loyalty to Trump dividing much of the rest of the Republican electorate.
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During the primaries, Ciattarelli, a former GOP Assembly member and a certified accountant who started a medical publisher, was criticized for not giving the former president enough support.
When asked if he would seek or accept Trump’s support, Ciattarelli told Fox News last month that “there is only one support I seek and that is support from New Jersey voters. that counts. So it will stay that way. ” My focus. “
But the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) linked Ciattarelli with Trump and former GOP Governor Chris Christie, calling him “an anti-election, Trump-voting, conspiracy-theory-driving Chris Christie servant who is far too extreme for New is “. Jersey.”
And DGA Executive Director Noam Lee argued that “Ciattarelli spent the primaries scared to win the extreme right and is now heading into November as an extreme candidate who has no contact with New Jersey values.”
Murphy, who was unopposed in the Democratic primary, targeted his GOP challenger and said Tuesday night that “some want us to go back in time – when New Jersey only worked for the rich and good.” -connected … We can’t go back. “
Despite being considered the most eligible of the GOP prime contenders, Ciattarelli faces a tough challenge in a state where Biden outperformed Trump with 16 points.
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Patrick Murray, polling officer at Monmouth University Polling Institute, Garden State, noted that “An election with an incumbent governor is about how the governor has done over the past four years and whether he deserves to be re-elected for another four years Where we are now, the governor’s job admission is solid – largely given his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. “
Murray stressed that “it is an uphill battle for a Republican right now to overthrow an incumbent governor, especially given the fundamental advantage that the Democrats currently have in New Jersey with a double-digit registration advantage.”