First Read Flash: Voters are voting!

NBC’s Michael O’Brien & Jessica Taylor rundown what to watch at the polls today: “Voters headed to the polls Tuesday for a series of off-year elections, including high-profile contests in Virginia and New Jersey that could offer nationally resonant lessons for Republicans and Democrats alike.”

VIRGINIA

Washington Post: Polls opened at 6 a.m. across Virginia Tuesday as voters decided whether to send Democrat Terry McAuliffe or Republican Ken Cuccinelli II to the Executive Mansion. On Monday, the candidates spent their final day on the campaign trail making virtually the same argument: that the governor’s race offers a stark choice with grave consequences for the future. McAuliffe sought to hold onto a lead reflected in all recent polls, appearing with Vice President Biden in Fairfax County and urging Democrats to do what many Virginians skip in off-year elections: vote. Cuccinelli joined conservative stars Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and former representative Ron Paul of Texas in a final push to motivate his base by tying McAuliffe to President Obama and the Affordable Care Act.”

Politico: “Headlining the final rally of Ken Cuccinelli’s underdog campaign for Virginia governor, Ron Paul suggested the “nullification” of Obamacare on Monday night….“Nullification” is a loaded word, still brimming with connotations here in what was once the capital of the Confederacy. But it might not even have been the most provocative comment the 78-year-old made in a somewhat disjointed half-hour speech in the Richmond Convention Center.”

The Daily Rundown’s Jessica Taylor: “The mood among Virginia Republicans is grim these days. But if there’s one bright spot for them on Tuesday, it’s the thought of attorney general nominee Mark Obenshain. As Democrats look to complete a historic sweep in the Old Dominion, the attorney general contest is an unusually big deal, with Democrat Mark Herring looking to complete the hat trick against Obenshain. The race between the two men, both state senators, has been overshadowed by the higher-profile candidates at the top of the ticket. That’s allowed Obenshain to run a more independent–and savvier–campaign than his ticketmates have, without their damaging soundbites and pock-marked reputations.”

NBC’s Domenico Montanaro looks at how changing demographics in the Old Dominion show why Democrats are on the rise in the state. 

Roanoke Times: “If public opinion surveys conducted over the last several weeks are accurate and Democrat Terry McAuliffe is elected, the Syracuse, N.Y., native will defy some historical trends in Virginia politics - including one that dates to Reconstruction…The party occupying the White House has not won a Virginia governor’s race since 1973, when Richard Nixon was president and Democrat-turned-Republican Mills Godwin was elected governor.”

NEW JERSEY

Politico’s Maggie Haberman: “New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s romp to reelection began with a storm. For all the focus on his superior ads, his crossover support from unions, and the weakness of his Democratic rival, Christie’s path to victory – one that his supporters would love to see shatter the record margin for a New Jersey Republican in the historically blue state and propel an all-but-assumed bid for president – started on Oct. 29, 2012. That was the day that Hurricane Sandy touched down on the Jersey Shore.”

New York Times: “Democrats and unions, fearful that a landslide victory by Gov.Chris Christie will reshape New Jersey’s political landscape, have poured tens of millions of dollars into a record-breaking outside spending campaign that has transformed the state’s election season. The effort, designed to preserve Democrats’ dominance of the State Legislature and complicate Mr. Christie’s plans to build a record of legislative achievement as he considers a presidential bid in 2016, has inundated some legislative districts with millions of dollars in negative ads on a scale never before seen in New Jersey.”

NEW YORK MAYOR

New York Times: “Concerned that his overwhelming lead in the race to be New York mayor could depress voter turnout, Bill de Blasio on Monday warned supporters against complacency as he sought to win with a decisive mandate that could propel his liberal agenda….But Mr. de Blasio’s Republican rival, Joseph J. Lhota, was not giving up the fight, urging New Yorkers to remember faulty predictions of the past, and comparing himself to Harry S. Truman on the eve of his unexpected victory against Thomas E. Dewey in 1948.”

Washington Post: “The Senate moved closer to passing a historic piece of legislation Monday that would ban discrimination against gay workers, signaling a dramatic shift in political attitudes on the issue. Seven Republicans joined 54 members of the Democratic caucus in voting to formally begin considering the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA). The 61 to 30 margin virtually guarantees its passage this week.”

ALABAMA: Washington Post’s Sean Sullivan, on the ground in AL-1: “The long-running battle for the heart and soul of the national Republican Party will play out here on Tuesday in the form of a nasty little House special-election primary, pitting business-oriented establishment Republicans against angry and energized tea party insurgents who have become a dominant voice in the GOP. Dean Young is the insurgents’ candidate. Bradley Byrne is the establishment choice.”

TOP MAYOR’S RACES

Boston Globe: “Boston voters on Tuesday will pick their first new mayor in two decades, choosing between state Representative Martin J. Walsh and City Councilor John R. Connolly after a compressed campaign that grew increasingly acrimonious in its closing weeks.Walsh and Connolly have dueled over whose supporters have fought more dirtily, and they have argued over shadowy telephone calls and negative fliers. The embittered tone has largely papered over the fact that the policy differences between the two are thin.”

Detroit News: “Metro Detroiters began heading to the polls Tuesday to vote for mayors and council members in some suburbs and Detroit, whose historic election includes the first council members selected by district in nearly a century. In the highest-profile race, former Detroit Medical Center CEO Mike Duggan faces Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon to see who replaces Mayor Dave Bing and works with state-appointed Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr.”

Charlie Cook: “The noise you hear is the grinding of Democratic teeth over the botched launch and arguably deeper design problems of the Affordable Care Act. Democratic pols had been gleefully anticipating the negative impact the Republican Party would incur as a result of the recent government shutdown debacle…. Now Democrats are shaking their heads over signs that much of any advantage they might have gained has been effectively neutralized.”

Wall Street Journal: “Insurers say the early buyers of health coverage on the nation’s troubled new websites are older than expected so far, raising early concerns about the economics of the insurance marketplaces. If the trend continues, an older, more expensive set of customers could drive up prices for everyone, the insurers say, by forcing them to spread their costs around.”

National Journal’s Beth Reinhard: “After two election cycles of Democrats successfully marketing Obamacare to Hispanic voters, the health care law’s rocky start could turn into a bargaining chip for Republicans. Hispanic adults have supported President Obama’s Affordable Care Act at a rate twice that of whites. More than 10 million Hispanics—roughly one-fourth of the total uninsured population—stand to benefit from the law. An outsize proportion of the eligible Hispanics are the healthy millennials who could make or break universal health care. But glitches on the enrollment site are blocking Hispanics (and everyone else) from signing up for subsidized insurance, while the Spanish-language website has been delayed until further notice. In a surprising gaffe by an administration that has put a premium on Hispanic outreach, the site geared toward Hispanics featured pictures of Asian-Americans at one point.”

Roll Call unveils their inaugural list of the top 10 most vulnerable House members in 2014. 

FLORIDA: Reuters: “Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, who quit the Republican Party and became a Democrat, launched a campaign Monday to win back his old job, setting the stage for what is expected to one of the most-watched governor’s races next year. At the rally where he formally announced his campaign before a crowd of supporters, Crist criticized current Republican Gov. Rick Scott. ‘It’s not a sin to reach across the aisle. It’s your job to work together. So yes, I’m running as a Democrat, and I’m proud of it,’ said Crist, 57.”

NORTH CAROLINA: Senate Majority PAC is launching an ad defending Sen. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) after Koch-backed groups have been attacking her on air. Touting her background growing up in a military family and as a mother of three, the ad says she’s “an independent Senator working to balance budgets and help create jobs.” According to a Democratic source, it’s a $400,000 ad buy in the Tar Heel State. 

 

First Read Flash: Voters are voting!