Former DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe speaks at an event to be endorsed by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton as Virginia gubernatorial candidate at The State Theatre in Falls Church, Virginia, October 19, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas (UNITED STATE
On Tuesday Nov. 5, numerous important elections were held nationwide. Both parties had their share of triumphs and disappointments. Perhaps no race attracted more attention than Virginia's gubernatorial race. Former Democratic National Committee chair Terry McAuliffe defeated Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli as expected, but McAuliffe's 48-45 margin of victory was smaller than almost every poll predicted. The result is a bit of a disappointment for Democrats, but a win is a win.

Democratic state Sen. Ralph Northam had little trouble against Republican crazy guy E.W. Jackson in the race for lieutenant governor, with Northam prevailing 55-45. It is still unclear if Democrats achieved a statewide office sweep: The attorney general race remains uncalled, with Republican state Sen. Mark Obenshain currently holding a narrow lead over Democratic state Sen. Mark Herring. Democrats were hoping to make serious gains in the Virginia House of Delegates, where Republicans held a 68-32 super-majority before the election. Unfortunately, Democrats appear to have only made a net gain of one seat. A number of Democratic candidates won at least 48 percent of the vote, putting them close but not close-enough to victory.

The state Senate was not up for election but Democrats have a chance to seize control of the chamber soon. Before Tuesday the Senate was deadlocked 20 to 20 with Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling breaking the tie for the Republicans. Northam's victory gives Democrats the tie-breaking vote; however, Northam must vacate his Senate seat and an early 2014 special election will be needed to fill it. Barack Obama carried Northam's Hampton Roads area district 57-43, but it's no secret that Democrats have had a difficult time getting their voters to the polls in special elections. Weak turnout could endanger what should be a solidly blue seat and with it control of the Senate.

The resolution to the attorney general's race will also impact control of the Senate. Either Obenshain or Herring will need to resign their Senate seat if they win. If Obenshain's Shenandoah Valley seat opens up Republicans should have little trouble keeping it; Mitt Romney won the district 60-39. An Obenshain victory would have one silver lining for Democrats: Herring would not leave his seat, keeping the party from worrying about a second critical Senate special election. Should Herring come out on top in the attorney general contest, Democrats will be defending a Northern Virginia seat that Obama won 59-39. Like Northam's district the seat is heavily Democratic but vulnerable to weak turnout among Democratic-leaning voters. If Democrats hold Herring's seat (either through a special election or not him not leaving in the first place) as well as Northam's, the party will seize control of the Senate. A loss in either district means Republican dominance in both houses.

Head below the fold for a rundown of even more election results from New Jersey and other states across the nation.

New Jersey

Unsurprisingly, Republican Gov. Chris Christie easily won re-election, defeating Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono 60-38. Christie's handling of Hurricane Sandy last year gave him a massive bump in his approval ratings that never went away. While Buono tried her best, she suffered from limited name recognition, weak fundraising, a very popular opponent, and implicit or even explicit support for Christie among many powerful Democrats.

The good news for Democrats is that Christie had very limited coattails. Both sides spent heavily as Republicans attempted to win control over the legislature or at least dent the Democratic majority. In the end the status quo won out: There appears to have been no change in the state Senate, and Democrats will keep their majority in the chamber. The Republicans appeared to have picked up two seats in the Assembly, but this is not nearly enough to threaten the Democratic edge in that chamber.


A special election primary runoff in Alabama's coastal first Congressional district pitted establishment Republicans against the tea party. Former state Sen. Bradley Byrne is no moderate but he may seem like one compared to his opponent, businessman Dean Young. Among other things, Young spouted homophobic rhetoric, said that he believed President Obama was born in Kenya, and couldn't correctly identify the secretary of the Treasury.

Republican establishment leaders and groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce backed Byrne, in large part to avoid the embarrassment of a Young victory. Byrne and his allies heavily outspent Young, and ultimately Byrne won by a narrow 52-48 margin. Byrne's primary victory is tantamount to election in this district. Republicans have held the area since the sixties, Romney won 62 percent here, and the Democratic candidate in the December general election is little known and poorly funded.


Overall it was a good night for Democratic mayoral candidates, with the party picking up the mayor’s office in three big cities (population of at least 250,000 people). In New York City, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio became the first Democrat to win Gracie Mansion since 1989. De Blasio took advantage of fatigue from Michael Bloomberg's long tenure and benefited from a weak Republican foe in Joe Lhota to win a landslide 73-24 victory.

Democrats also won a critical victory in St. Petersburg, Florida. Republican incumbent Bill Foster struggled with controversies over the construction of a new pier and his ability to keep the Tampa Bay Rays from leaving the city. Foster was the last Republican to hold a big city mayor's office in the critical Interstate-4 region, and both parties spent heavily to win the seat. Ultimately, Democratic state Rep. Rick Kriseman unseated Foster by a 56-44 margin. Kriseman's win will likely give local and state Democrats some extra energy as they attempt to pick up the Pinellas county-based 13th Congressional District in next year's special election.      

Democrats also defeated Greensboro Mayor Robbie Perkins. Perkins problems were more personal than political: In his two years as mayor he went through a messy divorce and personal bankruptcy among other things. Democratic Councilor Nancy Vaughan defeated Perkins 59-40 to claim the seat.

Elsewhere in North Carolina, Democratic nominee and Mayor Pro Tem Patrick Cannon held Charlotte's open seat 53-47 against former Republican Councilor Edwin Peacock. While Charlotte leans Democratic it has elected a number of Republican mayors in the recent past (including now Gov. Pat McCrory), and state Republicans hoped they could retake the state's largest city. Despite Peacock's reputation as a moderate and the state party's help, Cannon was the winner and will become Charlotte's third African American mayor.    

In Toledo no Democrat survived the city's September primary, leaving the party to turn to an independent. Councilor Michael Collins had the (sometimes reluctant) support of Democrats and union groups as he took on Mayor Mike Bell. While Bell was also an independent, he angered labor with his support for Republican Gov. John Kasich's policies. Ultimately, while Collins was underfunded, his coalition toppled Bell 57-43.

The news wasn't all good for Democrats. In Manchester, the party hoped to unseat incumbent Republican Ted Gatsas. Gatsas has frequently been mentioned as a future Republican gubernatorial candidate and while his 53-47 win over Democratic Alderman Patrick Arnold was not overwhelming, it was probably enough to keep his ambitions alive.

There were a number of races that pitted Democratic mayoral candidates against one another. In Boston, Mayor Thomas Menino's retirement created a crowded field to succeed him. State Rep. Marty Walsh and Councilor John Connolly were left standing after  the primary and fought an expensive general election campaign. While Walsh started the general trailing in the polls, he managed to win over most of his former rivals and benefited from the extensive support of unions. Ultimately Walsh won 52-48. Boston has no term limits for mayor and no incumbent has lost since the forties, meaning Walsh could be in office a long time.

In Cincinnati, former Councilor John Cranley easily defeated Vice Mayor Roxanne Qualls 58-42. Cranley opposed the construction of a downtown streetcar line and the leasing of city parking while Qualls supported both. In Detroit, former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan prevailed over Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon 55-45. Duggan used his tenure at the Medical Center to argue he could turn around the city's troubled finances. Duggan will become the first white mayor of the city since the seventies. The new mayor’s power will initially be very limited: The state-appointed Emergency Manager Kevin Orr has the authority to make bypass the mayor and city council in most areas. It remains to be seen how long the state of affairs will continue.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker won a third and final two-year term by defeating former City Attorney Ben Hall 57 to 28, with the rest going to minor candidates. Hall attempted to portray Parker as unethical and spent $2 million of his own money to try and win. However, Hall's late tax payments hurt his campaign early on, and Parker was helped by the city's healthy economy. Less fortunate was the Houston Astrodome. Voters rejected a plan to convert it into a convention center, likely dooming it to demolition.

In Minneapolis, a crowded race to succeed retiring Mayor R.T. Rybak gave the city its first real test of its ranked choice voting system. Candidates could choose rank up to three of the thirty-five(!) candidates and have their ballots distributed to their next favored candidates if their initial preferences were eliminated. It appears that Councilor Betsy Hodges came out ahead. Hodges has yet to declare victory but with her closest opponent Mark Andrew conceding, it looks very likely Hodges will emerge as the winner.

Finally, in Seattle, Mayor Mike McGinn appears to have been defeated. McGinn was hurt in his term by an unpopular fight over construction of a downtown tunnel and poor relations with the city council and state government. State Sen. Ed Murray ran as a consensus-builder and ran up a big lead in the polls. While there are still ballots left uncounted, Murray's 56-43 lead appears insurmountable, making Murray the city's first openly gay mayor.  

Other Races

The news was not great here. In Suburban New York, Republican incumbents held onto two county executive seats. In Westchester County, Rob Astorino was reelected 55-45 over Democratic New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson. In Nassau County, Republican Ed Mangano held his seat 59-41 over former County Executive Tom Suozzi. Suozzi narrowly lost to Mangano in a 2009 shocker, but his comeback fizzled out.

A Washington state Senate race that will help determine control over the chamber remains unresolved. Currently, a coalition of Republicans and two renegade Democrats control the Senate by one vote. Democrats hoping to flip the chamber next year first had to defend the 26th Senate district. Appointed Democratic Sen. Nathan Schlicher currently trails Republican state Rep. Jan Angel 51.4-48.6 in his bid to hold the seat for the rest of the term. Should Angel prevail, the Democrats will need to net a second seat to retake the Senate.

Have another interesting race? Tell us about it in the comments!  

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 09:29 AM PST.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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