Those other races…

voteWhile the national media has obsessed about New Jersey, New York-23, and Virginia, the White House and Republican leaders are undoubtedly concerned about what several less scrutinized races may say about the state of the national electorate.

California 10 – The other special congressional election this year is playing out in the San Francisco area.  It’s a race to replace Ellen Tauscher, a Democrat tapped by Obama to serve in the State Department. Tauscher won the district in 2008 with over 65% of the vote.  The district has a Cook Political Index Rating of Democrat+18 and Obama carried it by 34 points.  This race pits Democrat John Garamendi, a former Clinton appointee and Lieutenant Governor against Republican David Harmer.  A poll last month had Harmer within 7 points.  Even a win of less than 10-15 points will send shutters through moderate California Congressional Democrats and may turn them on the Health Care debate to protect their seats.

Atlanta Mayor – This seat has been held by African American Democrats for over 30 years, but the city appears ready to elect a white female fiscal conservative, Mary Norwood.  In a city with over 60% African Americans, such an outcome would be stunning.

King County Executive – King County Washington is so populous and so blue that the city of Seattle dominates the state’s politics much to the chagrin of the otherwise relatively conservative populous.  They haven’t elected a Republican to county-wide office in many years, yet Susan Hutchinson has a genuine chance of changing that.  Making it more remarkable, Huchinson is one of those Discovery Institute “brontosauses on Noah’s Arc” wingnuts  and this is the same county that sends “Baghdad Jim” McDermott to congress every two years with 70-80% of the vote.

Maine Marijuana Initiative – While the other races mentioned largely hinge on economic issues, this one will test the staying power of libertarian ideas within a broad ideological swath of voters.  Mainenites (sorry, I don’t know what you guys call yourselves) will vote to expand medical marijuana laws already in place and allow the licensing of dispensaries for the first time.

Also testing the trajectory of social issues, Washington and Maine will both vote on variations of gay couples’ recognition.  In Maine, it is a ballot test of the recently passed marriage equality law while in Washington it is an effort to strengthen and codify their “everything but calling it marriage” law.

In those big races mentioned above, look for a sweep in Virginia and a solid win for Conservative Hoffman in New York-23.  New Jersey is tougher because the Republican, Chris Christie, has run a lousy race, made every mistake possible and might, in the fashion of New Jersey Republicans historically, snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. 

The current governor, John Corzine, is deeply unpopular and Obama has pitched a tent in the state trying to save his hide.   Christie was up big before stupidly attacking a third-party candidate and splitting the anti-Corzine sentiment, running an ad complimentary of Obama and pulling back from his anti-tax pledges.  As a result the race has gone from a walk to a toss-up and the corrupt New Jersey Democrat machine will likely do the rest.

No matter how these races play out, it’s going to be a fun night for us political junkies.

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