The biggest race of the night was the Virginia Governor's race which saw Lieutenant Governor Tim Kaine (D) defeat ex-Attorney General Jerry Kilgore (R) by a healthy margin. Retiring Governor Mark Warner (D) is widely popular and his success in helping elect his Democratic ally as his successor will certainly further raise his profile as he eyes the 2008 Democratic presidential race.
The Virginia race can also serve as a blueprint for Alabama Democrats. Kaine was able to fight off GOP wedge issues (death penalty, gay rights, illegal immigration) and run on a less polarizing platform of education, health care, and fiscal management. While, VA Democrats have several advantages that AL Democrats do not, following the Warner/Kaine playbook would be wise for Democrats across the South.
Democrats also won the other big contest of the night as Jon Corzine (D) was elected governor in New Jersey. Corzine was always the favorite, however the race took several turns through an increasingly nasty and personal campaign. But ultimately Corzine won easily.
Republicans can take solace in New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's landslide re-election. Ohio voters also rejected liberal-sponsored referendums aimed at upsetting the GOP dominated status quo. But overall tonight was a good night to be a Democrat.
Democrats will try to spin tonight's results as a personal rebuke of George W. Bush and the GOP as a whole. Dems will also try to use their victories as a springboard from which to gather momentum for the 2006 elections. While it is undeniable that Bush is at the low point of his presidency and that the Republicans have had a rough 2005, Democrats would be wise to remember that high expectations in both 2002 and 2004 turned into bitter disappointments.