Leading up to, and immediately after his speech at the Republican Convention in 2012, Chris Christie was seen as the Republican Party’s best hope for the future, a no nonsense Republican, who didn’t mince words or bow down to his opposition no matter how strong.
Then Hurricane Sandy hit.
Being the Governor of New Jersey, Christie's concern was the people of his state, and he was willing to do whatever it was that would help them. This included realizing that he had to work with the president in spite of his party’s attitude toward President Obama, and speaking out against those in his party who refused to support relief funds for ideological reason disguised as fiscal responsibility, something he was correct about since many of those who voted against the funds had, in the past, made sure such funds went to their states, and some would do again a few months later when floods and tornadoes hit close to home.
And most recently, in spite of his own opposition to marriage equality, when his state’s highest court ruled in its favor, he put aside his personal likes and dislikes, accepting the high court’s decision.
The extremists in his party condemned him while he worked for the people whom he governed.
He won re-election handily with support of Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and a multicultural electorate.
On the other hand there was Ken Cuccinelli in Virginia.
Whereas Chris Christie knew that as governor his job was to work for all his constituents, whether he liked them or not, or really wanted to, Cuccinelli made it clear he would only represent a certain segment of his state’s population.
Instead of dealing with what his citizens needed, Mr. Cuccinelli spent his time denying climate change, speaking against women’s reproductive rights, stressing the need to deny Gay people equal rights in his state, pushing the idea that the government would be in your bedroom when he wanted to outlaw oral sex even between married couples, opposing the Affordable Care Act on ideological grounds, and preventing any efforts to reduce gun violence.
His opponent, Terry McAuliffe, may not have won so much because he was the better candidate, but more because votes for him were votes against Cuccinelli. There was even a Libertarian candidate who spoke against Cuccinelli's stances on social issue who did pretty well for a third party candidate.
It didn’t help that he used discredited interpretations of the Constitution to back up his beliefs, and claimed Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid and food stamps go against our freedoms.
Comparing the two elections, New Jersey and Virginia, it would appear that extremism and ideology did not win the day as moderation and pledging to govern all citizens did.
Perhaps, in spite of the sound and fury of the Tea Party, Americans are seeing that it signifies nothing.