New Jersey and Virginia set to take 2009 political stage

The only major political races in 2009 will be the gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia. Both parties are committing major resources with hopes of victory come November with the assumption that it could signal the direction of the vote in 2010.

The Washington Post reports:

Off-year elections rarely predict the future — except when they do. That’s why Democratic and Republican leaders will be closely watching the gubernatorial races in New Jersey and especially Virginia between now and November.

The lineup is almost set. In New Jersey, Republicans have nominated Christopher Christie, an aggressive politician who made a name prosecuting corrupt politicians. He will face off against incumbent Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, the former Goldman Sachs executive and former U.S. senator who has had a rocky first term. In Virginia, Republicans have selected former attorney general Bob McDonnell as their nominee.

The last piece will fall into place on Tuesday, when Virginia Democrats pick their nominee after what has turned into a spirited race among three candidates: Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee chairman; state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds; and former delegate Brian Moran.

Fast-forward to today and we have now learned that Virginia state Senator Creigh Deeds has won the Democratic Primary and will battle Republican Bob McDonnell in November.

News on Virginia from from the Associated Press:

State Senator Creigh (CREE) Deeds has won Virginia’s Democratic primary for governor.

Deeds beat former Clinton White House insider Terry McAuliffe and former state Democratic legislative leader Brian Moran on Tuesday.

The victory sets up a Deeds rematch with Republican Bob McDonnell, who beat him in the 2005 attorney general election by 323 votes.

McDonnell is a conservative with strong ties to religious broadcaster Pat Robertson. He was unopposed for the GOP nomination.

Deeds was the only Democrat in the race not from the Washington, D.C., suburbs. Primary rivals criticized him for legislative votes supporting Virginia’s broad, pro-gun laws, actions popular in rural areas that don’t play well in cities and affluent suburbs.

More from the AP:

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Turnout was light Tuesday as voters chose a Democratic nominee for governor in Virginia’s primary.

The primary marks the first bid for elective office for former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe, who led Hillary Clinton’s 2008 White House run. He faces state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds and former Democratic legislative leader Brian J. Moran.

In the fall, the winner will face former attorney general Bob McDonnell, the well-funded nominee for a Republican party desperate to overcome crushing losses in the 2008 election. McDonnell, a conservative with strong ties to religious broadcaster Pat Robertson, faced no opponent for the GOP nomination.

So it will be the following come November:

New Jersey
John Corzine – Democrat Incumbent
Christopher Christie – Republican Challenger

Virginia – Open seat
Bob McDonnell – Republican
Creigh Deeds – Democrat

We will continually update both New Jersey and Virginia election news and watch these races very closely.