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Tuesday’s Election Results in NJ, VA, CA-10, NY-23

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It was an off-year election, and everything went as expected – almost. Four races were hotly contested (Virginia Governor, New Jersey Governor, California’s 10th Congressional District, New York’s 23rd Congressional District) in the national media, and all were interesting in the realm of political junkies and 3am CSPAN gazers.

Craig Deeds, the moderate Democrat with the guts of a koala bear was crushed in the Virginia Governor’s race by conservative Republican Bob McDonnell. Chris Christie, whose “fatness” became his opponent’s main campaign issue, beat an abrasive and bumbling Jon Corzine to become the first Republican elected to statewide office in Jersey since 1996. California’s 10th district went Democrat – a hard-line liberal after years of blue dog sheepishness. New York’s 23rd district, which is upstate, went Democrat for the first time since the mid-19th century.

Just for you:

NJ: Christie (R)

If you want to know why, exactly, 44 percent of New Jersey voters felt the need to push Jon Corzine’s button, or pull the lever, I have no answer for you. I also encourage you to read my bluntly titled article from last week: New Jersey’s Race for Governor – Corzine, Christie, and Daggett are Each Awful. Chris Christie has no plan to pick the Garden State out of its slump, and he might be just as bad as Corzine, but you’ve got to tip your hat at the fact that he called the bearded jogging governor out on Don Imus’s radio show last week, telling Corzine to “Man up and say I’m fat.”

Beyond that, Christie may have struck a nerve with Jersey voters in his commercial, titled “Accountable”, where he shows video of Corzine saying, appropriately, “Hold me accountable.”

The people of New Jersey held Corzine accountable. Way to go.

VA: McConnell (R)

This was supposed to happen. Deeds hasn’t led an opinion poll since early July. According to ABC News, 89 percent of voters said they were worried about the direction of the economy. Just 24 percent said they cast a vote to show opposition to Obama, with 56 percent saying he had no factor in their vote at all. Obama, according to conservative polling at Rasmussen, maintains 50 percent approval in the state.

Craig Deeds, though a Democrat, was not a progressive or liberal, which may have had something to do with his loss. This was likely a case of Deeds’ advisers getting the best of him. By the end of the campaign, Deeds was running ads attacking Obama’s clean energy ideas, as well as any cap and trade bill that might come before congress. He argued against a public option for health care. He was anti-labor, in spite of telling both the SEIU and Teamsters that they’d “have a partner” in Richmond. He opposed the Employee Free Choice Act, which would allow workers to more easily unionize and opposed the right of public safety employees in his state to bargain collectively, saying bargaining would carry with it the “right to strike.” As if that’s a bad thing.

And there you go. Eighteen point loss. A landslide. See you later.

CA-10: Garamendi (D)

This was a little talked about race in a little talked about district. But here’s what happened. Democrat John Garamendi easily won election in this right-center California district. First off, the election was held because Rep. Ellen Tauscher, the former district representative, was brought into the Obama Administration to serve as the Undersecretary for Arms Control and International Security. Tauscher had served since 1996 and ran as part of the business-friendly New Democrat Coalition. She supported right wing causes such as rolling back the estate tax, tightening bankruptcy rules and expanding free trade agreements. After the 2006 Democratic takeover of the house, she warned her colleagues not to run “over the left cliff” by passing liberal legislation.

Garamendi is not that. He’s an unabashed liberal. While he supports a public option in the health bill before congress, he has also stated he’d support a single-payer health system as well as creating an exit strategy for the quagmire in Afghanistan. He won by 10 points.

NY-23: Owens (D)

When the Democrats have a fever, the only prescription is more wingnut. This year, Glenn Beck’s radical of the month club endorsed Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman to run in New York’s 23rd district. RedState.com, a legitimate far-right website who’s editor, Erick Erickson, once referred to Supreme Court Justice Souter as a “goat f*cking child molester,” also endorsed Hoffman and got the ball rolling for other extreme elements of the party to come out. In the end, the Conservative Party candidate, who’d just recently moved to the district, became the dream of Tea Patriots and anti-government zealots alike. He’d referred to conspiracy theorist Glenn Beck as his “mentor” and refused to condemn right wing radio host Rush Limbaugh for saying his Republican opponent Dede Scozzafava practices “bestiality.”

The Republican establishment candidate, Dede Scozzafava, was a former assemblywoman, and considered to the right of most of her assembly. But Glenn Beck claimed she might be a fan of Karl Marx. Outside groups dumped $3 million into the race in support of Hoffman. Then, Scozzafava dropped out of the race and endorsed the Democrat, Bill Owens. This seemed like it shouldn’t have mattered, since the district had been red since Ulysses S. Grant was president.

Along with Beck, Limbaugh, www.RedState.com and Erick Erickson, the psychotic endorsements of Hoffman came from a who’s-who of birthers, deathers and neo-cons to endorse the Tea Patriot. Fred Thompson, Tim Pawlenty, Bill Kristol, Dick Armey, Michelle Malkin, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, Rick Santorum, Steve Forbes, the Club For Growth and Minnesota’s own wacky representative who thinks the census will kill you, Michele Bachman, all endorsed Hoffman over the Republican.

Of course, the main reason they like Hoffman (besides the fact that he is not a big fan of Karl Marx) is that they believe he’s a fiscal conservative. Unfortunately for them, Frank Rich reported in the New York Times last week, “He’s on the finance committee of a hospital that happily helped itself to a $479,000 federal earmark. Then again, without the federal government largess that the tea party crowd so deplores, New York’s 23rd would be a Siberia of joblessness. The biggest local employer is the pork-dependent military base, Fort Drum.”

When wingnuts come to the party with their Obama “Joker” masks (which make no sense in terms of the plot of The Dark Knight), storming Washington to protest their taxes that are either a) the same or b) lower, history happens: Owens, the Democrat, won.

While this may have been an egg-in-the-face moment for the radicalization of the national right wing, Red State editor Erick Erickson took a different, bizarre approach. He wrote Wednesday morning, “The race has now been called for Democrat Bill Owens. This is a huge win for conservatives…the GOP now must recognize it will either lose without conservatives or will win with conservatives. In 2008, many conservatives sat home instead of voting for John McCain. Now, in NY-23, conservatives rallied and destroyed the Republican candidate the establishment chose.”

Um, okay.

 ***

One of the reasons President Barack Obama won so handily in 2008 was that the base of the Republican Party openly, baselessly claimed his birth certificate was forged, he was a socialist, his real father was Malcolm X (as stated by Atlas Shrugs editor Pamela Geller), and other violent fantasies 20 percent of the country take as fact.

Chris Christie won Jersey because he was up against a candidate who, it seems, is out to destroy New Jersey. McConnell won in Virginia because he didn’t waffle on issues. Hoffman wasn’t a candidate as much as he was a prop for the Tea Patriots and their 9/12 Glenn Beckian insanity. If conservatives like Erick Erickson and Dick Armey (who recently met with the author of the town hall harassment strategy memo to detail a plan that will purge more moderates from the house and senate) think they can win more votes by running to the right of Ayn Rand and red-baiting as if the Soviet Empire still existed, I’m sorry, but it’s not going to work out very well.

photo: Robert Sciarrino/The Star-Ledger