New York (AFP) – Democrats retook New York’s city hall and the Virginia governor’s mansion Tuesday, while a Republican with potential presidential hopes won reelection easily in New Jersey.
Tuesday’s vote was the first major round of balloting in the United States since President Barack Obama won a second term in the White House last year. Some races were seen as litmus tests for future national voting.
In the nation’s largest city New York, old-style progressive Bill de Blasio became its first Democratic mayor in a generation, specifically since 1989, even though New York is overall largely Democrat.
Another key race, for the governorship of the southern state of Virginia, turned out to be a nail-biter, but in the end Democrat Terry McAuliffe won in the otherwise strongly Republican state bordering the nation’s capital.
In other states, lesser issues like marijuana were on the ballot.
Portland in the state of Maine on the east coast legalized it for people over 21, joining other cities which have done so. But this was unprecedented on the East Coast.
And in Colorado, where the herb was recently legalized, voters agreed to tax sales of it.
New Jersey’s Republican Governor Chris Christie handily defeated his Democrat challenger, earning a second four-year term in a race some pundits said would serve as a platform for a future presidential bid.
Christie is a straight-talking moderate Republican who won much praise for his handling of the devastation wrought on his state last year by Superstorm Sandy.
He cruised to a landslide win even though he is at odds with many in his party at the national level.
At a raucous victory rally, Christie promised yet more pragmatic leadership.
“We stand here tonight showing that it is possible to put doing your job first, to put working together first, to fight for what you believe in yet still stand by your principles and get something done for the people who elected you,” he declared.
He is increasingly seen as a contender for the Republican nomination for the White House in 2016 given his pragmatism, charisma and ability to command cross-party support.
Obama called De Blasio, McCauliffe and Boston mayor-elect Martin Walsh to congratulate them.
Meanwhile, the race in the Big Apple — in which de Blasio long had been tipped as the heavy favorite to replace billionaire Michael Bloomberg — was one of several seen as a barometer of public opinion ahead of congressional elections in 2014.