November 08, 2005
Democrats Sweep Governors Races
With his big bankroll and bigger name it really would have been news if Sen. John Corzine lost in the New Jersey governor race to Doug Forrester. In Virginia Lt. Gov Tim Kaine beat Jerry Kilgore. In that race President Bush only campaigned for Kilgore Monday night. With the President's popularity tanking the Kilgore campaign probably didn't want him anywhere near him until the last moment to turn out the base. On the plus side as Kos notes the Democrats held both seats.
Power Line's Paul Mirengoff doesn't see the Virginia race as an example of national Democratic strength:
The Democrats will trumpet this win as evidence that they are on the comeback trail. They may very well be on that trail, but this race provides no good evidence of it. Kaine won because Democratic governor Mark Warner is extraordinarily popular (his approval rating is around 70 percent). There are no national implications here, unless the Dems are wise enough to run Warner for president in 2008, and they aren't. Recall too that Warner was elected governor in 2001 at a time when President Bush's popularity was at an all time high. And the Dems elected two governors in Virginia during the Reagan years. This race has never been tied to, or reflective of, national politics.
Kathryn Jean Lopez is disappointed:
Disappointing that the Republican candidates were somewhat lame (more than "somewhat" in New Jersey). Disappointing that the conventional wisdom on the Bush administration for a while now will be something like the Googlebombed Google "failure" read. This too will pass, however, I'm fairly certain. Still, the champagne popping is all on the Left tonight on the East Coast, anyway. (I don't have high expectations in Cali, but I'll hold onto hope on parental notification until it's over.) Republicans are more scotch tonight.
What this tells the President and the GOP is they have to get their act together. Domestically we see that compassionate conservatism ended up being big government conservatism. That has to change. Enough with the spending spree, fight to retain tax cuts, develop a new pitch for private Social Security accounts, and finally veto a bill. Disappoint the base, and they'll not show up to vote.
On the war front, the President has to find a way to cut through the negativity surrounding Iraq. The place has gone from authoritarian rule to constitutional democracy in three years! That's something to be proud of. Bush needs to go into campaign mode. Stop sending Karen Hughs globe-trotting. Bring her back into the White House to develop effective messages to encourage Americans that their first opinions of the Iraq War were the right ones.
I have two big suggestions: 1.) get Condi Rice out of the State Department. Influence in the administration means access to the President. As National Security Advisor Rice has better, faster access to the President than she does as Secretary of State. She'd do a better job helping her boss if she wasn't busy dealing with the institutional morass at Foggy Bottom. If this means having Dick Cheney retire and putting Condi in as VP so be it. 2.) Find out how distracted Karl Rove is with the Fitzgerald investigation or see if he's tired. Working in an administration really wears people down. Being the target of a special prosecutor makes it even more stressful. For the 2006 Congressional elections Bush needs a completely focused Rove or else he's a two-year lame duck. If Karl can't cut it dump him. Bring in Ken Mehlman or even your dad's political wizard James Baker. Baker's probably too old, but the point is to get talented strategists who are willing to bleed through 2006.
"Democrats Win Gov. Races in N.J., Va."