By MICHAEL FALCONE (@michaelpfalcone)
- A TALE OF TWO REPUBLICANS: If the Republican Party is at a crossroads, two distinct paths are being blazed by two very different candidates on Election Day 2013, ABC’s RICK KLEIN notes. In New Jersey, a pragmatic and often aggressive incumbent is poised to run up the score on the Democratic challenger — despite the state’s deep shade of blue. In Virginia, a strong social conservative with tea party support is in real danger of losing to a flawed Democrat — despite the state’s history of electing governors from the party that’s shut out of the White House. The split decision that’s likely to emerge today seems certain to exacerbate tensions over which way Republicans should be headed, a year after an election debacle for the GOP, and a year before the midterm elections. “If the polls hold true and [Ken] Cuccinelli loses, it shows that successful Republicans drive down the middle of the right-hand side of the road — they don’t drive off into the ditch on the right,” said Whit Ayres, a veteran Virginia-based Republican pollster. http://abcn.ws/19xGRL6
- ‘PEOPLE WILL REWARD DECISIVE ACTION’: Gov. Chris Christie’s 30-point-plus lead in pre-election polls leave him poised to become perhaps the biggest GOP winner in a trying year, KLEIN writes. Christie’s team is hoping for a win that will hold conservative voters and make deep inroads among Latinos, Democrats and independents — proving that a certain style of leadership can overcome partisan leanings. “His apparent success proves that people will reward decisive action and truth-telling, and that people are prepared to look beyond maybe their own party affiliations or even ideological predispositions where they see an instance of effective action in the public interest,” said former Gov. Mitch Daniels, R-Ind., who is now president of Purdue University. “Plainly, that’s what’s going on when a guy like Gov. Christie is that successful in a state like the one he lives in.”
- CHRISTIE — ‘I’D RATHER BE UP THAN DOWN’: At his final campaign rally on the eve of his likely re-election, Gov. Christie smiled when asked about his future, ABC’s JEFF ZELENY and SHUSHANNAH WALSHE report. “The polls are great. I’m happy about them,” Christie told ABC News. “Believe me, I’d rather be up than down.” A strong finish today, his supporters and strategists believe, will help advance any 2016 presidential aspirations. He demurred when directly asked about a race for the White House, but did not try to knock down the notion. “You know what I say? I’ve got an election tomorrow night,” Christie told ABC News. “I’ve got to govern this state. Whatever the future brings it will bring. But first things first here.”
ABC’s RICK KLEIN: The big winners tonight are hoping for big 2016s as well: Chris Christie and Hillary Clinton. If either or both runs for president (bet on the latter), which side will regret not doing more to make possible opponents more uncomfortable in 2013? Christie was barely scuffed up in coasting to a reelection race he was probably going to win regardless; Democrat Barbara Buono was the loneliest Democrat in America, though she didn’t have to be. Terry McAuliffe, of course, is seldom lonely, and he had plenty of company for this, his second run for governor of Virginia. Ken Cuccinelli had no shortage of GOP boldfaced names come to the state for him. But when the final numbers are counted, he’ll have been badly outspent by McAuliffe and his allies, in what should have been a winnable race for Republicans. The Clinton machine will roll on. “This is the first great victory of the Clinton march back to the presidency,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich told us yesterday, for an ABC News/Yahoo! News “Top Line” segment.
ABC’s JEFF ZELENY: It wasn’t the size of Gov. Chris Christie’s final rally that was notable, but rather the scene: Latin music, Spanish signs (Christie El Gobernador) and a rousing introduction en Espanol from Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico. The message from Team Christie was clear: This is the future of the Republican ticket that can win elections. The margin of Christie’s expected re-election victory tonight will instantly make him the leading face of the not-from-Washington wing of the GOP. As he walked into his campaign bus last night, he beamed as he told me: “Seeing a crowd like this and their enthusiasm is great news for our country. We’re going to bring people together.”
ABC’s MICHAEL FALCONE: Some will say that with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie headed toward a landslide victory for a second term, Wednesday will unofficially mark the first day of Christie’s 2016 presidential bid. (For their part, Democrats have been saying he’s been running all along). And it’s no accident that Christie spent part of his final full day of campaigning yesterday reaching out to Hispanic voters and campaigning with New Mexico’s Susana Martinez, a fellow GOP governor. Whether he’s a candidate for governor (or, ahem, for some higher office), Christie wants to show he’s a candidate who can bridge gaps — the Hispanic gap, the gender gap and even the party gap. A Quinnipiac University poll released yesterday, contained some some striking numbers: Christie leads 66-29 percent among men; 57- 36 percent among women, 64-29 percent among independent voters; and he even receives 30 percent of Democratic support (his opponent gets 64 percent). And with exit polls in the Garden State contest available later tonight, we’ll actually get to see if those pre-election poll numbers track with reality.
ELECTION 2013: AT A GLANCE
By ABC’s RICK KLEIN
THE BIG ONES: The two states choosing governors today — New Jersey and Virginia — have been national harbingers in recent years – Democrats won both races in 2005, a year before taking over Congress in President Bush’s second term, and Republicans won both in 2009, the year before the tea party wave gave the GOP back the House in President Obama’s first term. The national lessons this year will almost certainly be different, with a split decision very possible, and perhaps likely. Polls close in Virginia at 7 p.m. ET and in New Jersey at 8 p.m. ET.
IN THE CITIES: Hundreds of cities across the country are also electing mayors – including Atlanta, Miami, Detroit, Houston, Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh. In New York City, Mayor Michael Bloomberg will be replaced after 12 years — almost certainly by Democrat Bill de Blasio, who’ll be the first Democrat to lead the city in two decades. He’s poised for a lopsided victory after a surprise primary win, and he’s promising to promote a far more liberal agenda than Bloomberg. In Boston, voters will elect a replacement for Mayor Thomas Menino, who’s been in office since 1993.
IN THE STATES: Six states have a total of 31 ballot measures. In Washington State, voters will decide whether to require the labeling of foods made with “genetically modified organisms.” New Jersey voters have a $1-per-hour minimum wage hike on the ballot, while New Yorkers will vote on whether to expand casino gambling. In Colorado, voters will weigh in on whether to impose two new taxes on recreational marijuana sales — a proposal that will be closely watched as other states consider legalization based on the premise that it will raise money for public services.
DOWN BALLOT: In Alabama, the runoff for the Republican nomination in a House special election is an early test of the GOP establishment’s efforts to stave off tea party challenges. Bradley Byrne, a former state senator and gubernatorial candidate, has the backing of the National Rifle Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the previous occupant of the House seat. He’s running against Dean Young, a tea party favorite with strong socially conservative views. (The Republican will almost certainly win the December general election regardless of who wins the primary.)
LIBERTARIAN WHISPERER RON PAUL VOUCHES FOR KEN CUCCINELLI AS AN ‘ALLY’. With hours remaining before voters go to the polls to choose a governor in Virginia, former Rep. Ron Paul vouched on Monday for the libertarian credentials of Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who faces a fight for Republican votes from a third party gubernatorial candidate, ABC’s ABBY PHILLIP notes. “I don’t know whether Ken calls himself a libertarian or not, but I know he’s a constitutionalist, so he’s an ally,” Paul told an enthusiastic and markedly younger crowd at an event in Richmond Monday night. Since leaving Congress and running for president in 2012, Paul has rarely delivered public speeches, and his presence on the campaign trail is an even greater rarity, but it does speak to the significant threat Cuccinelli has faced from libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis. Throughout the campaign, Sarvis has siphoned away some right of center voters who would otherwise gravitate to the Republican Party candidate. A Quinnipiac poll released Monday showed Sarvis drawing the support of 8 percent of likely voters, 7 percent of whom are Republicans. A vote for Cuccinelli, Paul said, is a vote against a worse alternative. “The McAuliffes of the world and the Obamas of the world will come and destroy our liberties,” Paul warned. http://abcn.ws/1b3v31X
CHRISTIE CAMPAIGNS WITH NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie campaigned yesterday with Gov. Susana Martinez of New Mexico at his side. In Spanish, she urged a Union City, N.J. crowd to support his re-election bid, ABC’s JEFF ZELENY and SHUSHANNAH WALSHE report. She said the GOP’s future depended upon governors, a veiled swipe at members of Congress and Tea Party leaders. “We have to be able to compromise,” Martinez told ABC News. “In Washington, they’re not even talking to each other.” Hundreds of supporters cheered his arrival in Union City, where the crowd filled a city street and stretched down the block. It wasn’t the size of the rally that delighted Christie, but rather the diversity, with Latin music, Spanish signs that read “Yo Apoya a Christie El Gobernador,” and enthusiastic supporters in Democratic-heavy terrain. “We have one more challenge in front of us for 2013,” Christie told the crowd. “That challenge left is to prove all the folks, all the folks who will say that we can’t come together and work together, who say we can’t do things together regardless of party we have to prove all those people across the country and across New Jersey wrong.” http://abcn.ws/1dJveSa
OBAMA TWEAKING ‘IF YOU LIKE YOUR PLAN, YOU CAN KEEP YOUR PLAN’. President Obama last night continued to walk back his previous promise on the health care law that “if you like your health plan, you can keep it” with a bit of revisionist history, according to ABC’s MARY BRUCE. “One of the reasons that we took up health care reform was not just to help the uninsured, but also the underinsured or the badly insured,” Obama told supporters at an Organizing for Action event in Washington, D.C. Obama explained that if you have or had a substandard plan before the Affordable Care Act became law and “you really liked that plan, what we said was you could keep it, if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.” In selling the Affordable Care Act to the American public, the president often repeated the same refrain: “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan,” he said in St. Charles, Mo., March 10, 2010. “If you like your plan, you can keep your plan. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor,” he said five days later in Strongsville, Ohio. http://abcn.ws/HGf6oN
PRESIDENT OBAMA’S TUESDAY: President Obama shifts his focus back to immigration reform today, ABC’s MARY BRUCE notes. This morning, the President and Vice President meet with business leaders at the White House “to discuss the importance of taking action to pass commonsense immigration reform to bolster US economic growth,” according to the White House. Later, he visits wounded service members at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and military families at the Fisher House.
GAY RIGHTS IN WORKPLACE BILL ADVANCES IN SENATE. The Senate cleared its first procedural hurdle yesterday on the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), legislation which would ban discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity, ABC’s ARLETTE SAENZ notes. The Senate voted last night 61-30 in favor of invoking cloture on the motion to proceed to ENDA. One more procedural vote remains until the Senate can vote on final passage. Seven Republicans — Sens. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., Susan Collins, R-Maine, Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Dean Heller, R-Nev., Mark Kirk, R-Ill., Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Pat Toomey, R-Pa. — joined 54 Democrats in voting to advance the legislation. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., was attending the funeral of former Rep. Ike Skelton and missed the vote. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, also was expected to vote for the bill, but she missed the vote as well. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., who is the first openly gay person elected to the Senate, said one of her missions in the Senate was to achieve equality in the workplace for all. “The citizens of Wisconsin made history electing our state’s first woman to the United States Senate and electing the first out gay or lesbian person to the United States Senate in the history of our great nation,” Baldwin said. http://abcn.ws/172ZRNt
–OUTLOOK IN THE HOUSE: While it seems the workplace gay rights bill is coasting towards approval in the Senate, many see ENDA faltering once it reaches the House. House Speaker John Boehner reiterated his longstanding position against ENDA yesterday. “The Speaker believes this legislation will increase frivolous litigation and cost American jobs, especially small business jobs,” Michael Steel, a spokesman for Boehner said.
NOTED: MARK KIRK SPEAKS ON SENATE FLOOR FOR FIRST TIME SINCE STROKE. Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., spoke on the Senate floor yesterday for the first time since suffering a debilitating stroke in early 2012. Kirk, 54, who was elected in 2010 to the seat formerly occupied by President Obama, sat at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s desk as he spoke in favor of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), a bill that bans discrimination in the workplace based on sexual orientation and gender identity and one that he has co-sponsored. “I have been silent for the last two years due to a stroke a little under two years ago,” Kirk said in a speech lasting less than one minute. “I’ve risen to speak because I believe so passionately in enacting the ENDA statute. “This is not a major change to law. I would say it is already the law in 21 states,” he added. “I think it’s particularly appropriate for an Illinois Republican to speak on behalf of this measure, in the true tradition of Everett McKinley Dirksen and Abraham Lincoln, men who gave us the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 13th amendment to the Constitution.” http://abcn.ws/1b8QQDT
SUPREME COURT WADES INTO BIZARRE LOVE TRIANGLE CASE. A case ripped from tabloid headlines will come to the hallowed Supreme Court chamber this week when the justices hear about a romantic rivalry gone awry, ABC’s ARIANE DE VOGUE writes. Carol Anne Bond of suburban Philadelphia decided to take revenge when she learned that her husband was the father of her best friend’s baby. Bond, a microbiologist, stole an arsenic-based chemical from her boss and mixed it with other chemicals she bought on the Web and then smeared it on the car door, door knobs and mail box of former friend Myrlinda Haynes. Repeatedly. It was not a sophisticated attack. Indeed, the chemicals were easy to spot because they were bright orange. But Haynes, whose worst injury was a chemical burn on her thumb, had no idea who was trying to poison her. Police did little to help her solve the mystery so she turned to the Post Office for help. Surely, they would investigate the attack on her mail box. Indeed, postal inspectors installed a surveillance camera and captured Bond in the act. What happened next triggered the Supreme Court’s interest in the case. Federal prosecutors decided to charge Bond under a federal law that was passed to comply with a Chemical Weapons Convention treaty. http://abcn.ws/1a4XHjY
WHAT WE’RE WATCHING
SEN. GILLIBRAND’S MISSION TO CHANGE MILITARY POLICY ON SEXUAL ASSAULT. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is on a mission to change how the military prosecutes sexual assaults. She points to one statistic to explain why: 60 percent of those who reported sexual assaults last year were retaliated against by their superiors. “The victims tell us over and over again that they don’t trust the chain of command,” Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, told ABC’s JEFF ZELENY. Gillibrand is calling for removing sexual assault cases from the chain of command, so decisions on whether to try such cases would be made by military prosecutors, not commanders. “Some of our commanders are just not maintaining a command climate that is either preventing these rapes from happening, or at least a climate where a victim can come forward and then certainly not protecting the victims once they do come forward,” she said. “And that has to change.” But Gillibrand is waging an uphill battle in her effort to revise military policy. The Pentagon strongly opposes Gillibrand’s proposal, as do some in the Senate. http://yhoo.it/19xUHwY
WHAT WE’RE READING
“ROLL CALL’S 10 MOST VULNERABLE HOUSE MEMBERS REVEALED,” by Roll Call’s Shira T. Center and Emily Cahn and Abby Livingston. “The midterm elections are one year away, but it’s already clear that days are numbered for some endangered House members. The reasons vary, from scandal to primary problems, strong opponents or the changing politics of individual districts. Reps. Dan Benishek, R-Mich., and John F. Tierney, D-Mass., are making repeat appearances on the list from last cycle’s final edition. Another name from last cycle, Rep. John Barrow, D-Ga., didn’t make the cut this time thanks to an unproven opponent. Honorable mentions for this cycle go to Rep. Scott Peters, D-Calif.; Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Ill.; Rep. Joe Garcia, D-Fla.; and Rep. Tom Reed, R-N.Y. A revised list will be published in six months, and then again in the final weeks before Election Day 2014. But for now, here are Roll Call’s 10 most vulnerable House members of 2014 in alphabetical order…” http://bit.ly/HxEZI6
@markknoller: VA GOP Gov Cand Ken Cuccinelli running radio ads this morning that a vote for Dem McAuliffe is a vote for ObamaCare.
@samsteinhp: A must read by @jasoncherkis on how health care reform in Kentucky is succeeding by word of mouth http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/11/05/kentucky-obamacare-website_n_4214629.html?