Some Democrats have grown increasingly worried following catastrophic losses and near-misses in Tuesday’s elections, especially in the blue states of Virginia and New Jersey, where statewide races mostly favored Republicans.
President Joe Biden won both states by healthy margins in 2020 — 10 points in Virginia and around 16 points in New Jersey — but 10 months after he took office with a Democratic congressional majority, his party suffered mightily in those states and other blue enclaves like New York.
In the Old Dominion State, former Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe lost to political newcomer and businessman Glenn Youngkin, handing the Donald Trump-backed candidate the first statewide Republican victory since 2009. In addition, GOP candidate Winsome Sears, a naturalized Jamaican immigrant and Marine Corps vet became the first black woman to become Virginia lieutenant governor, while Republican Jason Miyares won the state attorney general’s race, defeating Democratic incumbent Mark Herring.
Meanwhile, in New Jersey, GOP gubernatorial challenger Jack Ciattarelli ran an unexpectedly close race against incumbent Gov. Phil Murphy, and though The Associated Press has called the race for the Democrat, Ciattarelli’s campaign is disputing the decision.
In New York, Republicans made inroads in district attorney elections on Long Island and in the state Assembly.
“Congratulations to Republicans across New York and the North Country on their exciting and impressive victories tonight. Here in the North Country, Republicans won by record margins and flipped multiple Democrat-held seats,” Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) said in a statement Wednesday listing all of the victories.
“This was a clear referendum on the disastrous ten months of Joe Biden’s administration and a Republican resurgence fueled by outrage after years of corrupt, Albany politicians destroying our state,” she noted further.
“The strength of our grassroots support has never been stronger. The work to save New York started tonight with Republican victories up and down the ballot, and it will continue in 2022 when we retire Nancy Pelosi and finally take back the Governor’s mansion,” Stefanik added.
The victories left Democrats concerned about next year’s midterms; Republicans need to flip just five seats to retake the House majority and a single Senate seat to win back control of that chamber.
“It certainly is something to watch; it certainly is to some degree unexpected,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) said regarding his state’s gubernatorial race, noting a lack of enthusiasm among minority voters and adding that just a few weeks ago, Murphy was seen as the solid favorite.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) was also concerned but doubled down on passing Biden’s economic agenda — a spending measure for infrastructure but also a massive bill for social welfare and climate issues.
“I was disappointed but not surprised. Terry McAuliffe was pretty explicit in the closing weeks of the campaign that our failure here to reach an agreement was felt by the voters of Virginia,” Durbin said regarding the Democratic congressional majority’s inability to pass either bill.
“The Democrats let Terry down,” Sen Mark Warner (D-Va.) told The Hill. “If we had done the infrastructure [and] reconciliation bills in October that we will certainly do before the end of [November], it would have been extremely helpful to him.”
But party moderate Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia said the election defeats are really a sign the public is not keen on Biden’s and Democrats’ spending priorities.
“I’ve been saying this for many, many months, people have concerns, people are concerned,” he said, noting again that adding more than $2 trillion to the economy will only worsen inflation.
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