Local political officials take on three big national races

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) – Did a pair of gubernatorial races and a special election in congress mean a lot to the rest of the nation?

On Tuesday night, WVLT Volunteer TV News spoke to a pair of East Tennessee political officials to get their take on the three elections and their impact on the nation’s political mindset.

The first race we discussed was Virginia’s gubernatorial election. Leading up the vote, Democrat candidate Creigh Deeds trailed republican Bob McDonnell in polls by double digits. McDonnell ended up winning the election with 59 percent of the vote.

"Democrats didn't have a strong candidate, but also the times are tough and people are looking for a change,” said Ray Jenkins, chairman of the Knox County Republican Party. “The republicans had the right message at the right time."

It was the right time because both Virginia and New Jersey, who hosted Tuesday’s other gubernatorial election, have long histories of electing governors from a political party opposite that of the president. In spite of that reality, local democrats were still disappointed at the outcome.

"We were hoping to be able to change that trend and keep a democrat in," said Will Minter, 1st vice chair of the Knox County Democratic Party.

In New Jersey, republican Chris Christie ended up narrowly defeating incumbent democratic Gov. Jon Corzine.

"Governor Corzine has proven to be a challenge as governor,” said Jenkins. “He had a hard time with unemployment as well as scandals in his administration. It is also an off-year election and the republicans had the right message."

Both men agreed the two governors’ races as well as the special election from New York’s 23rd U.S. Congressional district shouldn’t be analyzed too much. In that race, democrat Bill Owens beat conservative Doug Hoffman by about 5,000 votes to win the highly republican district.

“This is just one data point,” said Jenkins. “This doesn't mean people are reputing President Obama or his policies."

"This doesn't show a trend,” Minter said. “It isn't a referendum. We've already been there and done that. It's a tough issue."

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