Republican victories in the Virginia and New Jersey governors’ races may send shivers through Democratic circles, but what does it mean for President Barack Obama’s ambitious proposal to overhaul the $2.5 trillion healthcare system?
Not much, say Democrats. They are looking beyond the state issues that dominated the governor’s races and instead are focusing on two congressional races won by Democrats where national issues like healthcare reform were in play.
“From my perspective we won last night,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told reporters when asked about Tuesday’s elections. “This was a victory for healthcare reform. From my standpoint we picked up votes last night — one in California and one in New York.”
The two victories–one in New York district 23 where Bill Owens became the first Democrat to win the seat in over a century and in California district 10 where John Garamendi kept the seat vacated by Ellen Tauscher in Democratic hands — brings the number of Democrats in the House to 258.
That gives Pelosi a little more breathing room as she tries to muster the votes needed to pass the sweeping health reform legislation. She could lose as many as 40 Democrats when the House votes, possibly later this week, and still pass the measure.