This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 4, 2009 - Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, Missouri's top Republican in Jefferson City, was swift Tuesday night to laud the elections of two fellow members of the GOP as the new governors of New Jersey and Virginia.
However, Kinder's accolades may have been issued a tad early. The contest most important to many area conservatives -- New York's 23rd District congressional seat -- didn't go the way they hoped. The Democrat apparently won.
“Barack Obama carried Virginia and New Jersey by large margins in 2008, but just one year later, voters in those states are resoundingly rejecting the liberal policies of Obama’s anointed candidates," Kinder said. "In Virginia, Republicans swept all statewide offices — Governor, Lt Governor, Attorney General, and increased majority in House of Delegates. And in deep blue New Jersey, voters today chose conservative change.
“Obama’s coattails have all but disappeared, and tonight’s election results should put Democrats on notice. Supporting the liberal Obama-Pelosi agenda is dangerous, even in states that voted overwhelmingly for Democrats just one year ago," Kinder concluded.
New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine, a Democrat, was defeated by Republican Chris Christie, the state's attorney general. In Virginia, Republican Bob McDonnell defeated Democrat R. Creigh Deeds.
However, many Missouri conservatives -- particularly those aligned with the Tea Party movement -- had been working the phones and praying for days on behalf of Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman. Such conservative support helped persuade the moderate Republican candidate, Dede Scozzafava (decried by conservatives as too liberal), to drop out on Saturday.
But Democrat Bill Owens ended up winning, perhaps aided by Scozzafava's last-minute endorsement. (She also remained on the ballot, snagging 6 percent of the vote. That's more than the split between Owens and Hoffman.) Thousands of absentee votes remain uncounted in that race, but Hoffman -- who conceded Tuesday night -- apparently believes that not enough of those absentees will go his way.
Before the results were in, local Tea Party activists had issued a statement acknowledging the importance of the New York contest.
"The big race for most, is the New York 23rd District special election in which the GOP candidate pulled out and endorsed the Democrat,'' said a statement sent by former state Sen. John Loudon, R-Chesterfield. "Tea Party activists, most of whom staunchly refuse to don a party label, see a potential Hoffman victory as a chance to send the National Republican leadership a clear message to quit foisting candidates who deviate radically from the Party platform."