Here is my main takeaway from Tuesday’s elections: When Democrats fight, they win; when Democrats abandon their candidate, they lose. The difference between Virginia and New Jersey is a fighting Democratic Party. The difference between Chris Christie, re-elected Governor of New Jersey, and Ken Cuccinelli, loser in Virginia’s gubernatorial race is not ideologically that great. Both want to bust unions and starve the poor. Both favor tax cuts for the rich, low wages for workers, controlling women and ignoring climate change and both oppose gun controls and marriage equality. For both of them impeding implementation of the ACA is a central tenet. In short I can’t see a dimes worth of difference between the two. Yet for some reason Democrats fought Ken Cuccinelli tooth and nail in formerly very red Virginia and won. In blue New Jersey, Democrats laid down for Chris Christie – some even backed him – forsaking a true Democratic candidate in Barbra Buono and Christie won big.
Could Barbara Buono have beaten Christie? I am one who believes she could have, but we will never know. If nothing else she could have at least put a couple of dents in Christie’s armor. Remember, Christie is one of the front runners for the Republican nominations for president. Make no doubt we do not want what he has done in New Jersey replicated for the rest of the country.
One thing is for sure, next year we do not want to see any democrat simply lay down for an “inevitable” reelection of Terry Branstad. Just because he is older and has been around a long time doesn’t make him a good governor. I would consider this term a major dissappointment and just short of disastrous for Iowa families and workers. Remember that Branstad was a founding member of ALEC.
Being an ALEC devotee puts Branstad on the union-busting, blame the poor, etc. path of the Christies and Cuccinellis of the world. But he is quieter about it because he knows it doesn’t play well in Iowa. So last year he quietly cut $2 million out of the state budget for food for the poor. He also fought tooth and nail to keep Iowa out of the Medicaid portion of the ACA before finally coming up with a convoluted, business friendly and costly compromise.
So we have a year wake up Iowa’s Democrats and make sure they get their votes in. No Chris Christie treatment for Branstad! While we help move the Branstads out of Terrace Hill, we most definitely need to make sure that Bruce Braley fills that empty seat being left by Tom Harkin. I don’t know if I have ever met a more down to earth person than Bruce Braley. You can be sure that he will represent Iowans with pride.
It goes without saying that we have to keep Iowa’s state senate in Democratic hands. At a minimum they have been a real brake on Branstad’s plans. Think what Iowa could do under a Democratic governor and with a Democratic majority in the House.
So we have already seen what can happen to a good candidate without the full support of her party. We can’t let that happen in Iowa. We must at a minimum vote, but we will really need volunteers by the busload next year. Plan for a great holiday season, then let’s put our people power together in Iowa so we can have an even better holiday next year.