Topic A

Christine Todd Whitman
The Record
June 7, 2009

The state races in New Jersey and Virginia, which are held between congressional election years, have tended to be canaries in the coal mine of the national political mood. In 1993, Republicans won these two gubernatorial elections. George Allen replaced a Democrat in Virginia and I beat the incumbent Democrat in New Jersey. These victories were a prelude for Newt Gingrich and the signatories of the Contract with America to succeed in taking back the U.S. House of Representatives the following year. While the analogy to this year’s elections is not exact, both the Obama Administration and the RNC are taking a hard look at the possibility of Republican victories in this year’s gubernatorial races.

The GOP has a lot to prove with this year’s elections – we have to demonstrate that we have maintained our fundamental confidence in the ability of families and communities to make better decisions about their futures than the government can. New Jersey Republican gubernatorial nominee Chris Christie won, I would like to think, in part because he trusts New Jersey families not only with their finances, but also with their personal lives. This represents a step towards reconnecting with the voters by offering the solutions that America so desperately needs.

If the Republican Party can communicate effectively with the American people in this year’s gubernatorial elections – as it failed to do in 2006 and 2008 – that shift alone will greatly impact both the Republican party as a whole and Obama’s approach to governing.