RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
And I'm Steve Inskeep.
Politicians are a little like entrepreneurs. They're in a competitive business. They're seeking a formula for success. And just as a hit movie or a popular product inspires imitators, we can be sure that many candidates will study the results of last night's elections for pointers.
MONTAGNE: In New Jersey, Republican Chris Christie won re-election by a huge margin. He's a blunt-talking governor who also took criticism in his own party for cooperating with President Obama.
INSKEEP: In Virginia, Democrat Terry McAuliffe won the governor's race. He benefited from the unpopular government shutdown, but did not win as big as some expected.
We start our coverage with NPR's Brian Naylor.
BRIAN NAYLOR, BYLINE: This was an odd-year election but it might also be a preview of coming attractions as far as Chris Christie is concerned. The Republican governor of New Jersey, widely thought to have presidential ambitions, won a decisive victory in his bid for a second term. His more than 20 point margin over Barbara Buono, a member of the New Jersey Senate, came in a state with an overwhelming Democratic registration edge.
In his victory speech in the Jersey shore town of Asbury Park, Christie talked of how Superstorm Sandy a year ago brought people together in the state. Vowing to govern in the spirit of Sandy, he said it's a lesson Washington could stand to learn.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE: I know that tonight a dispirited America, angry with their dysfunctional government in Washington...
CHRISTIE: ...looks to New Jersey to say: Is what I think happening really happening? Are people really coming together?
NAYLOR: Christie did well with Democrats, independents and Latinos - a fact he was quick to embrace, as he recalled the many hugs he has given and received in campaigning this year.
But while Christie's brand of inclusive Republicanism prevailed in New Jersey, further south Ken Cuccinelli, the Tea Party-backed Republican attorney general of Virginia, made a game of it in his race against fundraiser Terry McAuliffe.
McAuliffe raised millions for Bill and Hillary Clinton, both of whom made campaign appearances for McAuliffe in the past few weeks. McAuliffe outspent Cuccinelli by some $15 million, much of which went to TV ads critical of Cuccinelli's positions against abortion and gay rights. Cuccinelli was also hurt by the government shutdown that affected thousands of federal workers in Virginia.
Speaking in Tyson's Corner outside Washington, D.C., McAuliffe also talked about bipartisan cooperation.
GOV.-ELECT TERRY MCAULIFFE: The truth is that this election was never a choice between Democrats and Republicans. It was a choice about whether Virginia would continue the mainstream bipartisan tradition that has served us so well over the last decade. At a time when Washington was often broken, just think about what Virginia has been able to accomplish when we work together.
NAYLOR: In the final weeks of the campaign, Cuccinelli tried to make the race a referendum on Obamacare. And in his concession speech he said it was that issue that made the race come down to the wire. But he could not overcome McAuliffe's advantage in the heavily Democratic Washington suburbs.
In the New York mayor's race, Bill de Blasio won in a landslide over his Republican opponent, Joseph Lhota. De Blasio ran explicitly against the legacy of three-term Mayor Michael Bloomberg. De Blasio spoke of a tale of two cities in his victory remarks:
MAYOR-ELECT BILL DE BLASIO: That inequality, that feeling of a few doing very well while so many slip further behind, that is the defining challenge of our times.
NAYLOR: A few other races of note yesterday: In Detroit, voters elected Mike Duggan, the first white mayor since the early 1970s. And in Alabama, Republican primary voters selected Bradley Byrne, who was backed by the GOP establishment over Dean Young, the Tea Party choice for a special election in the First Congressional District. The winner of the primary is expected to win the general election in the overwhelmingly Republican district.
Brian Naylor, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.