His pitch bipartisan and inclusive, Republican Gov. Chris Christie cruised to re-election Tuesday in Democratic-leaning New Jersey amid talk of a possible 2016 presidential run. Democrat Terry McAuliffe narrowly won the Virginia governor's race, leading what Democrats hoped would be their first sweep of statewide offices in decades.
New Yorkers chose Bill de Blasio as mayor, electing the first Democrat since 1989. In Detroit, the predominantly black city elected ex-health care executive Mike Duggan as the first white mayor since 1974.
The outcomes of both governors' races signaled that pragmatism won out over ideology.
In Virginia, McAuliffe turned back a late-game push by state Attorney General Ken Cuccinnelli, a Republican. Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton made appearances for McAuliffe, and so did President Barack Obama over the weekend. The Democrat also outspent his GOP rival in TV ads in the final weeks.
Cuccinelli had sought to prove that a tea party-backed conservative could win the governorship of a swing-voting state. He brought big-name supporters to the state, including Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal — all potential presidential contenders.
Virginia Democrats hoped they were on their way to holding all statewide-elected offices for the first time since 1970 and turning back the conservatism that has dominated under one-term limited Gov. Bob McDonnell. The state's two U.S. senators already are Democrats. Aside from McAuliffe, Democrats also won the lieutenant governorship. The race for the attorney general's office was neck and neck.
Although the GOP was expected to hold the Legislature, Democrats also could break through Republicans' veto-proof majority in the state House, and all that could set the stage for a presidential battleground in 2016.
Also with potential presidential overtones, Christie's resounding victory was intended to send a message to the GOP that a Republican with an inclusive pitch could win in Democratic territory.
"As your governor, it has never mattered where someone is from, whether they voted for me or not, what the color of their skin was, or their political party," Christie said in his victory speech. "For me, being governor has always about getting the job done, first."
Christie's victory makes him the only Republican governor considering the presidency and serving with a Democratic legislature. He was opposed by state Sen. Barbara Buono.