If you’re looking for a definitive message out of Tuesday’s elections, you might want to wait another 12 months and Congress’s turn to face the music.
That vote will be a referendum on Obamacare, the federal government shutdown, plus whatever other fires Washington can start in the months ahead. Be it a good or bad night for incumbents, we’ll have a better fix on which party stands to benefit from America’s frustration with an unsavory status quo (a survey released earlier this month showing Congress less popular than hemorrhoids, jury duty and toenail fungus).
Moreover, the November 2014 vote is an opportunity for some sitting governors – Wisconsin’s Scott Walker and New Mexico’s Susana Martinez come to mind – to showcase themes that might factor into the next presidential race. It worked for George W. Bush in 1998, when his easy reelection as Texas’ governor fueled presidential speculation.
As for Campaign 2013, it was an off-year election with some offbeat results.
That would include:
1) Economically distressed Detroit, with an 84% African-American population, electing a non-black mayor. The last time that happened was in 1970, the same year that the Ford Pinto – “the little carefree car” with the exploding fuel tank – first rolled off the assembly lines (yes, I drove one in high school). Mayor-elect Mike Duggan, a former hospital executive with a “Mr. Fix-It” reputation, now gets a shot at fixing a Motor City that’s $18 billion in debt, two-fifths of its street lights out of service, three-fifths of its population long gone, and Chapter 9 bankruptcy looming on the horizon.
2) In Colorado, voters rejected union-backed Amendment 66, which guaranteed a minimum of 43% of the state’s tax revenues going to education (similar to California’s Proposition 98, which mandates that 40% of general-fund spending goes to education). Amendment 66 also included a $950 million income-tax increase for, among other things, early-childhood education, at-risk students and English-language learners. Apparently, changing the state income tax from a flat 4.63% rate to a two-tiered formula – a 5% tax for the first $75,000 of taxable income; 5.9% beyond that – was too much for Coloradans to digest. The measure lost by nearly a 2-1 margin.
3) In Texas, voters approved Proposition 5 allowing seniors to purchase homes using reverse mortgages – the Lone Star State being the lone holdout on reverse mortgages, according to a report by the Texas House of Representatives. Somewhere, mortgage pitchman and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson is smiling. On a sadder Texas-related note: say goodbye to the “eighth wonder of the world”, now that Houston voters have rejected a ballot initiative that would have renovated the fabled Astrodome.