Tales from the Trail

New Jersey goes Republican too, bad night for Democrats

USA-HEALTHCARE/LUNCHESNo matter how they slice and dice it, Democrat losses in the New Jersey and Virginia governor races are bad news for the party of President Barack Obama as he tries to move an ambitious agenda forward.

Congressional Democrats are already jittery about mid-term elections in 2010 when the party of a first-term president usually loses seats. And Tuesday’s Republican wins will only scare them more.

Even before the New Jersey race was called for Republican Chris Christie over incumbent Governor Jon Corzine, Democrats were postulating that this would be the race to watch rather than the Republican win in Virginia where Bob McDonnell beat Democrat Creigh Deeds.

“If the Democrats have a bad night…”  James Carville, Democratic pundit, said on CNN after the Virginia race was called but before the New Jersey results were out.

“Let’s assume that the Democrats lose New Jersey, it could have an effect that people in Congress say ‘you know I’m not going to go along with some of Obama’s stuff, I’m really scared, we’ve gotta be careful, we’re going into 2010.’ That could be a reaction to that, maybe even an overreaction, which could be a danger,” Carville said. “That’s something that could have some implications.”

The First Draft: Elections East-West

Elections in the East, elections in the West.

Hot off the wire: Afghan President Hamid Karzai has been declared re-elected.

AFGHANISTAN/Afghanistan’s election commission made the declaration after Karzai’s opponent, Abdullah Abdullah, withdrew and a run-off election was canceled. “The Independent Election Commission declares the esteemed Hamid Karzai as the president,” the commission’s chief said.

This will no doubt increase the pressure on President Barack Obama to roll-out his new Afghanistan strategy earlier rather than later, now that he knows who the United States will be dealing with.

Matthew Hoh, the former State Department employee who quit last month in protest over U.S. policy in Afghanistan, told NBC’s “Today” show that the Karzai news was “disappointing” and despite the investment of  a lot of U.S. resources, “we didn’t get what we put our troops there for.”

“People on Capitol Hill, they watch the news”

OBAMA/President Barack Obama, on a campaigning blitz for fellow Democrats facing tough fights to stay in office, or get there, is trying to tie the state races to national issues to convince voters their ballot will have a broader impact.

“People on Capitol Hill, they watch the news,” he said.

On Wednesday, the president flew to New Jersey for a rally backing Governor Jon Corzine, who only just climbed into a tie with his Republican opponent, according to opinion polls.

Corzine is struggling in his bid for re-election Nov. 3, although New Jersey is a heavily Democratic state.

The First Draft: The president keeps campaigning

Back from his overseas trip, President Barack Obama has spent this week as campaigner-in-chief.

OBAMA/Every day Obama has pushed lawmakers to approve an overhaul of the healthcare industry — the president’s top legislative priority.

And last night he made a quick trip up to New Jersey to do some political campaigning and inject some presidential charisma into Governor Jon Corzine’s struggling re-election campaign.