Obamacare not to blame for close Va. race, a top Democratic official says
The Democrat in the Virginia governor's election won more narrowly than expected. But Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, chair of the Democratic Governors Association, doesn't attribute the tightness to voter unhappiness over Obamacare.
Michael Bonfigli/The Christian Science Monitor
The rocky rollout of Obamacare and its unpopularity with voters did not cause the narrower-than-anticipated victory of Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe in Tuesday‚Äôs Virginia gubernatorial election.
This is the argument that Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, chair of the Democratic Governors Association (DGA), made Thursday at a breakfast for reporters hosted by the Monitor. ‚ÄúI do not think Obamacare had an impact on the Virginia election,‚ÄĚ he said. ‚ÄúReally what Virginia was about was not about Obamacare.‚ÄĚ
In the Virginia governor‚Äôs race Tuesday, Mr. McAuliffe ended up with a 2.5-point, 55,000-vote edge over Ken Cuccinelli, a tea party supporter and the commonwealth‚Äôs current attorney general. Several public polls had McAuliffe up by double digits coming into the final days of the campaign. Governor Shumlin said the private data he saw predicted it would always be a close race.
‚ÄúI believe that the voters of Virginia rejected the same radical social agenda that [Florida Republican Gov.] Rick Scott and [Wisconsin Republican Gov.] Scott Walker ... and others have been implementing in their states,‚ÄĚ Shumlin said.
Exit polling showed voters‚Äô unhappiness with Obamacare, although it didn't indicate whether the Affordable Care Act was decisive in the Virginia election‚Äôs outcome. Data collected by Edison Research found 53 percent of Virginia voters opposed the ACA, and among these opponents, 81 percent voted for Mr. Cuccinelli. Among independent voters, 61 percent in Virginia and 58 percent in New Jersey said they opposed the health-care law.
Politico‚Äôs widely read daily Playbook summed up the Virginia results as, ‚ÄúObamacare almost killed McAuliffe.‚ÄĚ
Shumlin has been a leader in pushing health-care reform, and in 2017, Vermont is slated to implement what the Associated Press describes as ‚Äúthe nation‚Äôs first universal health care system, a sort of modified Medicare-for-all that has long been a dream for many liberals.‚ÄĚ¬†
At the breakfast, Shumlin argued that the implementation of health-care reform ‚Äúis going to be a tough road." He continued, "There are going to be potholes that make mud season in Vermont look like a picnic.‚ÄĚ
But, he contended, the kinks would be worked out ‚Äúwithin the foreseeable few months,‚ÄĚ after which ‚Äúthe websites will be working and I believe ... it is going to be extraordinarily popular.‚ÄĚ
The DGA chair played down the implications of Republican Gov. Chris Christie‚Äôs landslide victory in New Jersey over Democratic state Sen. Barbara Buono. It is a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by 700,000.
‚ÄúI think the phenomenon of Chris Christie is this simple," Shumlin said. "The people of New Jersey focused on his oversized personality, and it was a referendum on his personality.‚ÄĚ
Shumlin brushed off criticism from some Democrats for not investing more in the New Jersey race, in an effort to reduce the size of Governor Christie‚Äôs reelection margin ‚Äď which he is expected to trumpet in a bid for the presidency. Former Obama campaign strategist Ben LaBolt told The Washington Post, ‚ÄúThere was a bit of a missed opportunity during the campaign itself." He went on, "At the national level, Governor Christie really got a clean shot at introducing himself, which is unfortunate.‚ÄĚ
‚ÄúMy job as chair of the DGA is not to invest money in bruising people,‚ÄĚ Shumlin replied. ‚ÄúIt is to win Democratic governor's mansions so that we can have governors who focus on jobs and opportunity instead of a right-wing social agenda. So anyone who thinks the DGA should be in the business of bruising people doesn‚Äôt understand my job.‚ÄĚ