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Christie's Missed Opportunity

For all the celebration around Christie's victory last night, he missed a real political opportunity that he (and other Republicans) will regret. As expected, Governor Christie won his re-election bid. However, he missed out in the Virginia Governor's race on what could have been a golden opportunity. Governor Christie's refusal to make a quick campaign stop near the end of the race was a miss by Mr "Its-About-Winning-Elections".

Down double-digits & getting outspent heavily in a race with a Democratic-financed Libertarian, Ken Cuccinelli got to within a couple of points in the final days of the race. He might have won had Christie campaigned on his behalf. A couple of events where Christie shared the following might have gotten Cuccinelli a few points and made the difference in the race.

"Hey, we do not agree all the issues, but I have more in common than McAuliffe on the important issues of our day."

It might have cost Christie a couple of points in a race that he won handily (probably not), but what could it have gotten him (and other Republicans)?

  • The bump for Cuccinelli might have coat-tailed to other down the ballot races.
  • In the 2014 Senate campaigns, the Virginia seat should be a very winnable seat that would be a net Republican gain. Having a Republican Governor (and any other constitutional offices) to support that campaign would have set up a strong position.
  • In the 2016 Republican Primary (and General Election), a social conservative Republican governor that owed him a favor would be invaluable! Since the 2014 Senator would have been a benefactor of his 2013 Governor, VA (a need-to-win state for the GOP) would have a solid campaign foundation.
  • Most importantly for him, it would have been a solid step for him to package himself as a candidate capable of bridging the different groups within the Republican Party. He could represent a consensus leader focusing Republicans against common enemies instead of themselves. This would have been a marked departure from the recent behavior of the "Establishment" types. In too many election cycles, the Republican Establishment expected Conservatives to "work with them" for their candidates, but questions, dismisses, even actively undermining Conservative candidates.

With all that said, the biggest missed opportunity is really nationally for Republicans overall.

Had Ken Cuccinelli won VA with the Libertarian & the spending gap, there would have been a panic among Democrats in any seat that is listed as a "toss-up" to "leans-blue". Support for Obamacare would have crumbled and Democratic donors (who had just put big money into McAuliffe) would be beyond furious. Matt Damon in Rounders said it best: "I had just chopped off one of his legs; now, I just had to lean on him!" A loss in this race (which was supposed to be a coasting win) would have put Democrats on defense in their own districts and effectively ended any expectations they might have to make gains in 2014.

There is value injecting a little despair into the minds of your opposition. The Obama Administration's response to that despair trying to defend their signature legislation would have made it even worse.

For someone who preaches the message of "Winning Elections", he missed a real opportunity to positively influence one and build some political capital south of the Mason-Dixon line. These are the foundations that he will one day need for what is expect to be a future Presidential campaign. Barrack Obama won the Democratic nomination for his Senate campaign and ended up campaigning more for other Democrats in the 2004 cycle. He influenced the campaigns that he could & built a lot of political capital that he used 4 years later.

Label this one a case where Christie won comfortably when he could have gotten a blowout. This was one where he should have really ran up the score!