Tuesday’s election results – Terry McAuliffe winning the governorship in Virginia and Chris Christie winning a second term as Governor of New Jersey, are both victories for moderation, in my view.
McAuliffe’s opponent, currently the attorney general of Virginia, Ken Cuccinelli, is cut out of the Tea Party mold and is shockingly right of center. He supported a “personhood amendment” which granted full rights to “preborn human being[s] from the moment of fertilization” as a state senator, and according to a recent Washington Post editorial, “his motivating passions were God, guns, gays and abortion; as attorney general, he won notoriety mainly by fighting the Obama administration over health care and climate change.” Cuccinelli also bullied the State Board of Health into imposing such strict requirements on abortion clinics in VA that most, if not all, will have to close their doors.
Well, Cuccinelli lost the election to McAuliffe by a margin of 56,000 votes, which isn’t huge, but enough votes to give McAuliffe a decisive win. The Governor-Elect is a democratic operative, close to the Clintons, he has never held elective office and has no governmental experience. Nevertheless, the voters of Virginia, by and large a conservative lot, turned away from the extremism of Cuccinelli and his Tea Party beliefs. And the pundits agree that Cuccinelli would have been trounced far more decisively had the Obama Administration not managed to so badly bollix up the Affordable Care Act’s roll-out.
Secondly, a more moderate republican, Chris Christie, won a landslide second term in New Jersey. Christie is no liberal, far from it, but he is a pragmatist, which Cuccinelli is not. Christie was willing to accept the help of President Obama, welcomed him to the state, and even hugged the president- much to the chagrin of Tea Party activists and other Republicans who have refused to work with Obama in any fashion – after Hurricane Sandy destroyed big sections of the Jersey shoreline. Even Governor Christie was surprised, commenting, “President Obama came in, he did a good job, I said nice things about him, so all of a sudden, I’m a moderate.”
Yes, in this environment and compared to many in his party, that does make Governor Christie a moderate, though there are probably few ideas that NCL and Governor Christie would agree on, he didn’t run scared from the Tea Party.
So strike two votes for moderation. It seems clear that American voters like candidates who want to get the job done, who don’t take orders from any one interest group, and who aren’t motivated by a rigid ideology. This election proves once again that moderation wins elections and is a cautionary tale as we approach the presidential race in 2016.