IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

First Read Flash: Party crashers

Chris Christie cruises to a big win and stokes the 2016 flames as Cuccinelli falls short in Virginia and GOP finger pointing over what could have been begins.

Washington Post's Dan Balz: "Tuesday’s elections, which produced a resounding Republican victory in New Jersey and a dispiriting loss for the GOP in Virginia, highlighted the challenges ahead for a badly divided party — and will probably intensify an internal debate about how to win back the White House in 2016."

NBC's Michael O'Brien: Republican Gov. Chris Christie "cruised to victory with an impressive coalition of New Jersey voters demonstrating crossover outside of the GOP that very few Republicans have shown in recent national elections. His success stands in contrast to the contest in Virginia, where Democrat Terry McAuliffe bested state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican whom half of Virginia voters said was too conservative after he spent years cozying up to the Tea Party and its unflinching conservatism. Though Cuccinelli managed a closer-than-expected showing against McAuliffe, his long history of social conservatism contributed to a poor showing with women voters, particularly those who support abortion rights.  And last month’s government shutdown, a strategy backed by fellow conservatives in Congress, almost certainly doomed Cuccinelli in vote-rich Northern Virginia – an area heavily dependent on federal spending."

Daily Rundown's Jessica Taylor: "While many expected the Demorat’s win in the once GOP-stronghold of Virginia to provide further evidence of the difficulty conservative candidates have in swing states, the narrow margin could actually inflame the tensions within the GOP. Many in the GOP establishment didn’t get on board with the Tea Party-backed Cuccinelli’s campaign, and key national dollars stopped flowing into the race in the the closing days as Cuccinelli was especially outspent in the vote-rich Northern Virginia media market. He brought in Tea Party surrogates in the final hours, but perhaps the man who could have helped him most took a pass. According to various senior Republicans helping Cuccinelli, they tried getting Gov. Chris Christie to come campaign for Cuccinelli, but the New Jersey Republican, who rolled to a win in the blue Garden State, refused."

Politico: "The much-closer-than-expected outcome" in Virginia "blunts the narrative that this was a clean win for Democrats going into 2014 and guarantees an intense blame game among Republicans about what might have put Cuccinelli over the top."

Washington Post: "The Virginia attorney general’s race was a virtual dead heat and headed for a recount early Wednesday morning, with Democratic State Sen. Mark Herring clinging to a 541-vote lead over Republican State Sen. Mark D. Obenshain with 2.2 million ballots cast, according to unofficial results posted by the state board of elections. With 99.92 percent of the vote tallied, the margin between the two candidates was a scant .03 percent. State election law provides for the trailing candidate to request a recount if the margin is less than 1 percent of the total vote."

New York Times: Christie's victory "vaulted him to the front ranks of Republican presidential contenders and made him his party’s foremost proponent of pragmatism over ideology. Mr. Christie declared that his decisive win should be a lesson for the nation’s broken political system and his feuding party: In a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans by over 700,000, Mr. Christie won a majority of the votes of women and Hispanics and made impressive inroads among younger voters and blacks — groups that Republicans nationally have struggled to attract."

National Journal's Kevin Brennan: Christie's "reelection strategy also underlines a challenge for Christie's presidential aspirations: The same attributes that make him a strong general election candidate could hurt him during the GOP's nominating fight. On the way to his reelection rout, Christie has given potential 2016 GOP rivals openings to attack his conservative credentials on several key issues." 

USA Today: "Bill de Blasio was the projected winner of the New York mayoral race Tuesday, signaling a new era for a city whose new leader promises to undo much of what Michael Bloomberg accomplished.De Blasio, who vowed to narrow the gap between the rich and poor and reform controversial policing tactics, is the first Democrat elected mayor of the nation's largest city since 1989."

Roll Call: "Former state Sen. Bradley Byrne defeated tea-party-backed candidate Dean Young in a special GOP runoff in Alabama’s 1st District on Tuesday, marking the first big win for more moderate Republicans in the fight for control of the GOP since the government shutdown....The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other business-oriented groups, such as TD Ameritrade founder Joe Ricketts’ Ending Spending PAC, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in the final days of the contest to ensure a Byrne victory."

Boston Globe: "Martin J. Walsh, a legislator and long-time labor leader, ground out a narrow victory over City Councilor John R. Connolly Tuesday to become Boston’s 48th mayor, propelled by a diverse coalition that transcended geography, race, and ideology. Walsh rode a wave of support that spanned Boston, from his Savin Hill neighbors to African-Americans in Roxbury, liberal activists in Jamaica Plain to Latinos in Hyde Park. His campaign — fueled by unprecedented spending by organized labor from across the country — swelled beyond his base in Dorchester, where Walsh, the son of Irish immigrants, grew up in a tripledecker."

Detroit News: "Mike Duggan overcame questions about his outsider status to become Detroit’s first white mayor in about four decades, beating Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon on Tuesday in a campaign about who could best revitalize a failing city. For Duggan, born in Detroit but who lived much of his life in the western Wayne County suburb of Livonia, it was a victory rooted in his turnaround persona that may also reflect a move away from decades of racial politics."

Los Angeles Times: "The flawed launch of the new online marketplaces has forced Obama to spend time defending the insurance exchanges rather than selling them to a skeptical public, as he had planned. More than a month into the rollout, he has few bright spots to highlight and one big gaping hole to avoid: The website he planned to sell with the zeal of a late-night infomercial pitchman does not work properly. That puts the White House in change-up mode. The president has shifted how he talks about the law, arguing that it's "more than a website" and focusing on benefits that are not yet easily accessible."

Chicago Tribune: "Lawmakers approved gay marriage Tuesday in a historic vote that saw supporters overcome cultural, racial and geographic divides and put Illinois in line with a growing number of states that have extended the right to wed to same-sex couples. After more than a year of intense lobbying by both sides, gay lawmakers made emotional pleas to colleagues to give their families equal rights even as opponents argued that doing so would unravel the foundation of society."

NBC's Kasie Hunt: "Amid the ongoing war within the GOP, the Senate Republicans' campaign arm is signaling a more aggressive approach in trying to get its favored candidates through contentious primaries in 2014. 'Would we spend money in a primary? Yes, we would if that’s the right move at the time,' Rob Collins, executive director of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, told reporters Tuesday. 'The path to getting a general-election candidate who can win is the only thing we care about.'...The approach is a switch from previous cycles, when the NRSC has stayed out of open contested primaries. A number of hard-line conservative candidates won primaries in 2010 and 2012 but went on to lose general elections."

ARKANSAS: AP: "Former Federal Emergency Management Agency Director announced he was running for a south Arkansas congressional seat on Tuesday, giving Democrats a high-profile candidate as they try to rebound from Republican gains in the state. Witt, who headed FEMA from 1993 through 2001, announced on a conference call that he was seeking the party's nomination for the 4th Congressional District. Witt served as Arkansas' emergency management director under Bill Clinton, who nominated Witt to head FEMA."

KENTUCKY: Washington Post: "A super PAC supporting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-Ky.) reelection campaign is up with a significant ad buy attaching Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes to President Obama's now-debunked claims about his health-care law. The Kentuckians for Strong Leadership ad begins with video of Obama saying that people who liked their health insurance plans could keep them. The claim has since been roundly criticized and rated as false by fact-checkers. The ad buy is $340,000 statewide on broadcast and cable TV, according to the super PAC's senior adviser, Scott Jennings."

MONTANA: Politico: "Freshman Montana Rep. Steve Daines (R) will announce Wednesday that he is running for Senate, GOP officials told POLITICO. Daines will enter as the frontrunner against Democratic Lt. Gov. John Walsh in the contest for the seat opening with the retirement of Sen. Max Baucus (D)."