The biggest elections of 2017 will be this Tuesday, November 7th, 2017 for the New Jersey and Virginia governorships. The stakes are high, just as they were telling victories for Republicans in 2009. That year, two Democrats were serving as chief executive in both states, and with Obama’s win the year before, those elections served as a referendum on the success of the reception of the newly-elected President.
Republicans ended up winning both offices. Bobby McDonnell rejected Obama’s agenda. He left office under a cloud of scandal, although later exonerated. Chris Christie shocked pundits in 2009—and in 2013 with re-election by double-digits, scooping up the endorsements from local and county officeholders throughout New Jersey.
The issues facing the two commonwealths today—and which serve as a referendum on President Trump—have changed considerably. In 2009, the dismal economy weighed on everyone. The accelerating expansion of government and the corruption accompanying it worried voters. Obama was already pushing shovel-ready fraud and launched his government take-over of the economy called Obamacare. Because of Obama’s relentless overreach, Republicans snatched up the first of many governorships, building a strong bulwark of conservative state sovereignty against the Obama-nation.
Following Obama’s destructive, anti-American policies, Trump’s victories and agenda have pushed a new set of political concerns to the forefront. While the economy is roaring at a steady 3% GDP (likely to hit 5-6% with effective tax reform), the economies in Virginia and definitely New Jersey could use a boost. Virginia’s GOP candidate Ed Gillespie has promised a higher threshold before taxing incomes. He has also pledged to cut spending and regulations for Virginia businesses to flourish again.
In New Jersey, property taxes are eating out the middle class. Despite Christie’s 2% cap, property owners are still hurting. If Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno can’t pull off a win, Goldman Sachs-owned Democratic Governor Phil Murphy will send the rates skyrocketing. If that happens, expect more homeowners to pull up stakes and flee to Florida.
The other issue weighing on voters’ minds is public safety, especially illegal immigration. Overwhelmed public services, housing, and roads have awakened outrage in Virginia. MS-13 is killing off children in the Old Dominion. New Jersey’s urban core has attracted rampant criminality for decades, and illegal immigration has only made it worse. Virginia’s Republican contender, Ed Gillespie, has improved his chances in the last month. His competition, Democratic Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam, was running hard left with the national party. He voted against banning sanctuary cities in the state legislator. He talked about taking down all the Confederate statues. He wants free college for everyone, and like most Democrats, he loves playing the race card.
Fortunately for the Commonwealth and the MAGA agenda, the illegal immigration issue has harnessed the power of the grassroots, at one time non-committal at best about proto-Establishment Gillespie. The Republican candidate’s strong pledges for public safety and economic prosperity have galvanized voters.
What about New Jersey? The Republican contender has a pedigree of her own. Her biggest liability is former boss Chris Christie and his dismal approval ratings: worse than President Trump! Guadagno also turned off the Trump Administration, and don’t expect Steve Bannon to rush in last-minute to boost her chances.
Nevertheless, like Gillespie, Guadagno is surging in the polls. Why? Illegal immigration. The crime rates are terrible in New Jersey. Rival gangs and violent illegal aliens have committed heinous crimes in the last year alone. ICE just rounded up 36 criminal illegals in Middlesex County, and consistently the crime reports identify illegals time and again. Blind to the stark problems in the Garden State, Democratic candidate Phil Murphy has openly declared that if elected, he will turn New Jersey into a sanctuary state.
This horrific proposal has worked in Guadagno’s favor, allowing her to showcase her track record on public safety and law enforcement. A former federal prosecutor and county sheriff, she collaborated with ICE, diligently placing citizens’ safety ahead of political correctness. A staunch supporter of the Second Amendment (with an “A” rating from the NRA), Guadagno’s bonafides are helping close the polling deficit with her opponent.
On a national level, these two races stand out because they represent the national fight between Left and Right. Republicans are returning to their populist roots, focusing on the rule of law, and restoring the nation to the control of law-abiding citizens whose elected officials promote the general welfare of taxpayers. The Democratic Party has turned into progressives on steroids. Obsessed with identity politics and race, while pandering to the politically connected 1%, they have disdained the needs of the working man while coddling welfare recipients and illegal aliens.
Virginia voters are likely to make the right choice November 7. Breitbart CEO Steve Bannon just endorsed Gillespie, all but assuring a stronger-than-expected conservative turnout. Democrat Ralph Northam has flip-flopped on the sanctuary city issue, alienating his Democratic base, discouraging volunteers, and earning the distrust of prospective voters. Virginia residents want their citizen sanctuary back, and Gillespie will deliver.
As for New Jersey, does Guadagno have a better chance than a poor Atlantic City casino? The biggest factor is the Trump voters, disaffected with the Lieutenant Governor and learning toward a third-party conservative. If they wake up and switch to Guadagno, she stands a better chance of winning. Anything can happen. Despite the dour options in New Jersey, a GOP win in Virginia will ensure a smooth expansion of the MAGA Agenda across the country and further dash prospect Democratic hopes across the country. It would be nice for another Republican win in blue-state New Jersey. If nothing else, a Guadagno victory will stop another sanctuary state and send a clear message to the flailing national Democratic opposition that such dangerous virtue-signaling that masquerades as law-making is a big loser politically.
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not represent the views of Townhall.com.