Haley Barbour on New Jersey, Virginia

The Republican Governors Association just sent out this “A Note From Haley” Barbour on today’s gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia.

The voters in New Jersey and Virginia are at the polls. The RGA has put $13 million dollars of your money into these races, and I’m confident our efforts will pay off.

Heading into this year, we knew it was important to win at least one of the 2009 governors’ races. President Obama carried both states by wide margins last year, and Virginia has been trending more and more Democratic every year. Winning one state will shift momentum back to the GOP, and winning both would be a springboard for the 2010 elections.

Because of its proximity to DC and the fact it is an open seat, the Virginia race has particular significance. Bob McDonnell has run a campaign based on the pocketbook issues voters care about – jobs, the economy, healthcare and energy. The polls show him in a solid position and his campaign offers a solid roadmap for Republicans running in 2010. Virginia is a swing state that had been trending Democratic since we last won the governor’s race in 1997. A victory by Bob will signify a major turning point.

The New Jersey election features an incumbent governor, and races against incumbents are always more about that governor’s record than anything else. Five public polls were released yesterday. Three polls show Chris Christie with the lead and two polls show Jon Corzine ahead. While the polls do not show a clear frontrunner, they do reveal that Christie has gained the momentum. Now, at just the right time, Christie is seeing an uptick in the polls while Corzine has faded slightly. And thanks to the RGA’s advertising, Independent candidate Chris Daggett now is pulling more votes from Corzine than he is from Christie. This race could still go either way, and Christie has been outspent enormously; but I still like the position we’re in at the close.

Thanks to your support, the RGA was able to make unprecedented investments in both New Jersey and Virginia. I am proud of RGA’s efforts in both states. Our independent ads in Virginia dramatically shifted the way voters feel about Democrat Creigh Deeds and our early direct investment in Bob’s campaign this spring ensured the campaign developed on his terms. Our New Jersey independent ads this summer carried the Christie campaign through Labor Day with the lead and our unprecedented ad buy this fall allowed Christie to regain momentum.

I really appreciate the support you have given RGA, but this is just the beginning. Tomorrow the stakes are even higher as we enter a year with 37 governors’ races. More than twenty of the races will feature open seats. I hope tonight we will be able to add two colleagues to help us with the task ahead.

Sincerely,

Haley Barbour
Governor of Mississippi
RGA Chairman

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