Thursday, November 07, 2013

Marco Rubio says something smart about Chris Christie and the 2013 elections

By Michael J.W. Stickings

 Specifically, about Tuesday's elections and what they all mean:

In an interview with CNN, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio downplayed Wednesday any national takeaways from GOP Gov. Chris Christie's crushing victory in the blue state of New Jersey and Republican Ken Cuccinelli's loss in Virginia, saying what happened in Tuesday's elections carry little implications for the future of the GOP.

"I think we need to understand that some of these races don't apply to future races. Every race is different -- it has a different set of factors -- but I congratulate (Christie) on his win," he told CNN Chief Congressional Correspondent Dana Bash.

The first-term Senator from Florida stressed that each race is unique to the state where it's taking place.

"Clearly (Christie) was able to speak to the hopes and aspirations of people within New Jersey. That's important. We want to win everywhere and Governor Christie has certainly shown he has a way of winning in New Jersey, in states like New Jersey... so I congratulate him on that," he said. 

Actually, he's overstating his case a bit. Each election ought to be understood on its own terms, but it's not like they take place in complete isolation from one another. And even with off-year elections like the ones on Tuesday, certain themes and trends can be found, even if there isn't necessarily the sort of easy, simplistic, overarching narrative (who won, who lost, what it all means) the news media so desperately want to find and push (as Jon Stewart amusingly pointed out tonight). And one thing we saw is that, Christie's win over a relative unknown notwithstanding, Democrats and progressive causes did quite well, on the whole.

In any event, Rubio has every reason to dismiss Christie's win as a mostly local event. They're rivals for 2016, after all, or so it seems here in 2013. But that doesn't mean he's wrong. Christie won big in a blue state, but it's a blue state with a long history of electing Republicans to state-wide offices and he faced not a high-profile Democratic opponent like Cory Booker but Barbara Buono, and of course Christie still benefits for having fought for Hurricane Sandy relief to help the devastated parts -- and people -- of his state.

But already the Christie 2016 narrative has overtaken the talking heads of the commentariat, as if his win is a sign of even bigger things to come. Please. It's a long way from now to 2016, and while he could be a strong contender for the Republican nomination, he'll have to make his way through the killing fields of the Republican primary process, where it's not moderate Garden Staters who vote but grassroots right-wing extremists who are far more in line with the current Republican zeitgeist than, say, Chris Christie, and Christie's bloated self-aggrandizing, as witnessed in his victory speech last night, isn't going to change that.

Is Christie worth talking about as a leading national Republican? Yes, of course. But so are Rubio and any number of others. But let's dispense with the premature and downright silly narratives of what is inevitably to be. Because they're almost certain to be wrong.

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