November 4th, 2009
03:56 PM ET
9 years ago

Axelrod calls NY-23 'only national race of consequence'

David Axelrod said the gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia were 'impacted by state issues.'

David Axelrod said the gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia were 'impacted by state issues.'

(CNN) - Top White House aide David Axelrod brushed off Democratic electoral losses in Virginia and New Jersey Wednesday, calling the congressional race in New York's 23rd district the "only national race of consequence."

Axelrod told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that the gubernatorial races in Virginia and New Jersey were "impacted by state issues" and that they were not national races. He said the results of those races should not intimidate moderate Democrats, who he said should focus instead on the election in upstate New York, where a Democrat won the seat for the first time in over 100 years.

"That's the race that most members of Congress are going to look at with interest, and that's the race they should," Axelrod said. "Because the message was, if you embrace the president's agenda… then you will do well and you'll energize voters and you'll get the kind of turnout you need to win your race."

Many Republicans have called the race in NY-23 a unique situation - since the local GOP appointed the nominee instead of conducting a primary, which they say Hoffman would have won - Axelrod called the chaotic contest evidence of an intra-party split.

"What you saw there was I think the future, or the near-term future of the Republican Party, civil war in which the right wing ran the moderates out of the party," Axelrod said. "And they ran right to the Democratic candidate. And I think that has some harbingers for what's to come."

Tune into The Situation Room beginning at 4 pm ET for the rest of Wolf Blitzer's interview with Axelrod.

Filed under: David Axelrod • NY-23
soundoff (102 Responses)
  1. Rob in NC

    He's both right and wrong.

    The Dems will have a tougher time in 09 and 10 more so than in 08 because Obama is not on the ticket. Younger voters and minoritys just are not going to come out in droves if they don't have a reason (though they should).

    You also have to take into account that both Deeds and Corizine were terrible candidates. The Republican candidates were the only option. You really can't read too much into the govenors races. I'm a Dem and I wouldn't have voted for either one. NY-23 wasn't so much a Democrat win as it was a signal that districts are not going to elect stooges of either party. Hoffman knew nothing about the district, he was just a puppet of the ultra-right.

    Here in NC the Republicans learned that lesson with Elizabeth Dole. Democrats learned that trying to put a Kennedy in Clinton's vacated Senate seat in NY. Names and National ideology do not keep people in office. Politics is local, both Democrats and Republicans would do well to remember that.

    November 4, 2009 05:02 pm at 5:02 pm |
  2. wm weeks

    OH, these two losses might not matter to A-Rod, but I bet obamas ego took a hard blow.

    November 4, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  3. Stacey, California

    so many of you are correct here, Virginia voted in response to state issues, i'm sure, but nationally they could vote democrat again. Example, look at California: Republican Governor, but blue state.

    November 4, 2009 05:04 pm at 5:04 pm |
  4. DLK

    Mobius-the sweat's coming from you and the rest of your foolish friends of the GOP.

    GOP in fighting? Almost like the south fighting the south in the Civil War. But we know who eventually won it all. Right?

    It amazes me how Republicans, GOP, Palin lovers, and the rest of their Neo-Nazi party rally behind a cause that has no bearing on the way the country is heading in the next 3 years and beyond.

    You won state government positions. Good for you! Now have those Governors make a decision that will supercede the president's decision, or your congressional district, or your Senator on the hill. It doesn't work does it? Get the Big Picture? Get it yet?

    November 4, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  5. Randy

    Give the Dem 30 days to run the race as a known figure with national money and he loses. Hoffman was unknown prior to mid/late October. If Dede wasn't on the ballot, again Hoffman wins. This was not good news for the Dems.

    November 4, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  6. Wow

    Typical comments from the Democrats.

    Mr. Axelrod,

    The people of NJ and VA have spoken. We do not want big government nor tax and spend tactics. We want fiscal conservativism and it appears we are not getting that from the WH. We have an unemployment rate that is close to 10 and rising under this current administration. This has happened after the WH passed a $757 billion stimulus package promising unemployment to remain at 8%.

    How can you say these elections did not mean anything? If they didn't, then why did President Obama make 5 appearances with EX-govenor Corzine? These elections did send a message to both the states and the WH.

    November 4, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |

    Last November, Barack Obama won New York's 23rd district 52%-47%.

    So why didn’t the Democratic Party leadership and the DCCC specifically find someone who could represent better that 52% who voted for Obama?

    Why did they pick out a conservative independent like Bill Owens and slap a “D” next to his name instead?

    Why did the Democratic Party leadership want yet another Blue Dog type in the Democratic Caucus when the people of New York's 23rd district clearly want real change?

    November 4, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
  8. Sniffit


    Mark Twain once said,"History does not repeate itsself, it rhyms."

    November 4, 2009 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  9. dan smith

    Definitely a referendum on Obama's Presidency. If liberal democrats continue down the path they've started down there will be many more casualties for them in 2010. The New York election meant nothing the Republican that was running was just another liberal democrat.

    November 4, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  10. anotherGDlefty

    In 2001, Fox News pundits said daily that regional elections with democrats winning meant nothing in terms of any mandates on President Bush's policies.

    In 2009, Fox News pundits have been saying for days that regional elections with republicans winning are a huge mandate on President Obama's Policies.

    Which is it Fox sheep ?

    November 4, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |

    Uhh..excuse me...but unemployment was around 6 percent until the dems took over congress in 2006, around 7 percent in January when Obama took office and now it's nearly 10 percent, after assurances from Obama that it wouldn't go past 8 percent if the stimulus was passed.
    .A republican will provide tax incentives and get business hiring again, reducing unemployment, not raising it.

    November 4, 2009 05:11 pm at 5:11 pm |
  12. Obama/Biden = One and Done, please God....

    Whichever way you want to look at it, this is a major slap in the face of Obama and Biden. Obama went to NJ three times to stump for Crookzine, and Joe the buffoon went once.

    Sorry, Dims, no way your Dim spin is going to change the fact the independents rejected you in these elections.

    November 4, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  13. Hank from Seattle

    There is a lesson for each party in the results:

    Dems got a wakeup call that not just ANY candidate will do – they have to be (a) strong candidates on (b) local issues and (c) with a strong local record. Deems failed on counts (a) and (b). Corzine failed on counts (a) and (c). I suspect the DNCC is going to get busy and act to support their candidate's positions, especially the Blue Dogs who should now start campaigning for the votes of moderate Republicans that are being booted out of the party.

    Reps got a wakeup call that running farther to the right is not going to be a winning strategy nationally. Lots of star power came in for Hoffman and the hard-right conservatives were completely fired up – but it wasn't enough to carry the day. Gingrich is vindicated completely. If they do not listen to him, they should just get used to their seat on the back benches because that's where they are going to stay. I predict that the Republican party will be two parties after or even before the next election.

    The hard-core of each party is insufficient to carry the election in 90% of the country. Ask yourself, who's going after the center? That's the party that will be successful.

    November 4, 2009 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  14. casper

    its a shame that you can't see the handwriting on the wall. prez's time to shine is in the past. you got fox news, the serpent behind the gold mic, and fox radio virtually attacking around the clock the president w/ neg points and missteps that the democrats have made. its all most like you [dems] are slow out the chute........ nancy pelosi "is" a liability to this presidency... and afgan should be given a withdraw date of 2010...... an all troop pullout, because karzi and his brother [the drug lord] its all about them poppy fields and them [2] are giving this admin the ol okey doke. in working hand n hand w/ the taliban. "they got to abdullah" and he knew that if he went ahead w/ the runoff election. he would'nt live to see the next sunset. and proved it by direct attacks deep inside kabul. letting him know they could get to him anytime.... its time to get off of the "merry-go-round". even prez to your inner circle something is amiss......

    November 4, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  15. Kel

    I agree with some elements of this comment. Gubernatorial elections and Congressional elections are much different. Governors don't vote on bills and legislate, they deal with issues that are directly related to their state. They're kind of like the president of that state. While House members and Senators work directly with the president of the United States and his policies, governors don't. The republicans want more senate seats, that's the key.

    No one can tell for certain if Obama had any effect on the gubernatorial races. From what I hear, Corzine was highly unpopular already and McDonnell was favored to win (remember, McDonnell has face Deeds before for Attorney General with the same result so really no surprise there). It's natural for people to vote for the other party if things go badly when the current party is in power (i.e. bad economy). People weren't happy, so put someone else in power.

    Obama probably actually helped get some people out to vote for the Democratic runners, I think the big deal here is his input didn't help enough. Or he just didn't help at all. That's why it's supposedly supposed to be a blow. He wasn't able to, as a popular president, turn the election around after some late campaigning. It makes him look like he lost. But the fact of the matter is that neither Deeds nor Corzine are Obama. Their losses should be attributed to theirselves.

    So overall, definitely not a good thing for Obama. But if republicans think this is going to solve all of their problems, they couldn't be more wrong. It's expected for Obama's numbers to fall, we're in tough times and we are an impatient society. But republicans are faring much worse. The percent of people who identify themselves as republicans has never been lower. And their approval rating has fallen significantly. I sincerely hope that they can get their act together, and become a legitimate party again.

    November 4, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  16. Randy

    Before you go to far, answer this question. 3 way House race in California, Nancy Pelosi, a moderate Dem, and a Republican on the ballot, who wins. Would this mean anything?

    November 4, 2009 05:13 pm at 5:13 pm |
  17. joe m

    no surprise that he'd see it this way since it was the only race of note that his party won. and to be fair, despite the loss of the candidate that the conservatives fronted, it was by a slim margin of 3 points. if this is the only race that matters, then axelrod needs to acknowledge that it matters b/c despite being nearly unknown until recently, out manned and under funded, and enjoying a last minute endorsement by the republican candidate who dropped out, the conservative nominee turned in an impressive showing. by all accounts, with the money, organization, and late support by his former adversary, owen ought to have trounced hoffman. he won by 3 points. not a good sign for the demcratis party, b/c if the republicans had fronted a candidate that could have enjoyed more support from their base, it is quite likely that owen would have lost by a significant margin. axelrod is doing what he is expected to do, SPIN.

    November 4, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  18. Brian from NJ

    "Karl" Axelrod is way off if he thinks the VA and NJ elections have no national significance... the voters in NJ and VA made it crystal clear that "It's about Jobs and the Economy" NOT "It's about the Public Option"... and I will guarantee you that the Conservative Democrats were paying attention... NJ Independents gave 60% of their votes to Christie and on a national level Independents will do the same to every Democrat in 2010 that puts their liberal agenda ahead of any effort towards REAL job creation (not that 650K nonsense the WH spewed this week)

    November 4, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  19. Randy

    How many votes did Obama Create or Save in any of the elections last night. Did he win even though he lost because if?

    November 4, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  20. kq

    I agree with Rollins. Not a referendum, but it is a warning sign.

    November 4, 2009 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  21. Perspective

    From a national perspective, Axelrod is correct. The two congressional races for Democrats are the wins that affect federal policy.

    In NY-23, the moderate Dem won by keeping a pragmatically broader appeal.

    Socially fundamentalist conservatives ended up losing to more liberally compassionate positions in a misguided attempt to purge moderates from the GOP.

    November 4, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  22. Operation Crush Rush

    Its Ax time for the Neocons,hahahahahaha

    November 4, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  23. Tine Ferrer'

    DLK, yeah I get it and I'm a Democrat of 25 years.

    Do you not see this bigger picture here?

    The self fulfilling prophecy of “say it and it will become true” dynamic has run its course with me. I’m too old and this got me once, never again….

    If this cardboard cutout by the name of Hoffman came this close to winning it will be unfortunately apparent to all in 2010.

    Your statement though is somewhat akin to: other than that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?


    November 4, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  24. dan smith

    Obama made the Virginia and New Jersey elections a referendum on his Presidency by campaigning so hard for the democrats that were running there. The PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN, Obama's days in office are numbered.

    November 4, 2009 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  25. LacrosseDad

    Axelrod===your PUPPET is in a free fall

    November 4, 2009 06:16 pm at 6:16 pm |
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