Chris Christie is expected to win easily today, but will he send a message for 2016?

Not much tends to happen in American politics in odd numbered years but there are a handful of elections I think are worth paying extra attention to.

Governors

New Jersey – There is little doubt that Republican governor Chris Christie is going to win re-election tomorrow against Democrat Barbara Buono. The big question is how large the victory will be. Christie is clearly thinking about a Presidential run in 2016 and he would need to make electability a big selling point with GOP base. He doesn’t just want to win, he wants to rack up an incredible victory. Poll shows he likely will. The latest Quinnipiac has him leading 66% to 33%.

Virginia – While the race has tightened slightly in the final days Democrat Terry McAuliffe is still the clear favorite over Republican Ken Cuccinelli. The final polls all show McAuliffe with a lead in the single digits. It will be interesting to see if the Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis can hold on to his support or if it goes to another candidate at the last minute. He has been polling around 8 percent.

State Ballot Measures

Washington State Initiative 522: GMO Labeling – It would require the labeling of genetically modified ingredients in food. Fear this could spark a national trend the big agribusiness companies, like Monsanto, are spending an unprecedented amount to stop it. The ‘no on I-522′ campaign is now the most expensive ballot initiative campaign in the state’s history. The measure started with strong poll numbers but the expensive “no” campaign has successfully erode support.

New Jersey Public Question 2: Minimum wage – It would increase the minimum wage to $8.25 and annually increase it with inflation. The ballot measure has pit unions and antipoverty groups against big business.

Colorado Amendment 66: Income Tax – This would raise income taxes by around $950 million to pay for more eduction spending while applying several changes to the state’s education system. The pro-campaign has spent big on this effort.

Colorado Proposition AA: Marijuana Tax – Now that marijuana is legal in Colorado this measure would apply a 15 percent excise tax and a 10 percent sales tax. Most of the money raised would be used to fund school construction and maintenance. Having both these measure on the same ballot should provide a fascinating point of comparison. We will see how many voters are willing to support a “sin tax” for education than an income tax increase.

Local Ballot Measures

Portland, Maine Question 1: Marijuana Legalization - Voters will decide on a local measure that would legalized up to 2.5 ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and over. The practical impact will probably be modest since marijuana would still technically be illegal under state law, but the political impact could be significant. There are already a substantial statewide efforts pushing for Maine to legalize marijuana in the next few years. An overwhelming vote in Maine’s biggest city for marijuana legalization would be a powerful sign that the state is ready for reform.

Photo by Gage Skidmore under Creative Commons license