Politico observes the year’s two high-profile gubernatorial races and finds a stark difference:
The two Democrats running for governor in the closely watched New Jersey and Virginia elections this fall are taking markedly different approaches when it comes to President Barack Obama.
Down by double digits in polls and facing rock-bottom approval ratings, New Jersey Gov. Jon Corzine has embraced the president with gusto, regularly invoking his name on the campaign trail and embracing his agenda at every opportunity. . . . In Virginia, however, state Sen. Creigh Deeds has taken a different tack. He’s been far more circumspect about his relationship with the president, using him to raise money and win support from the Democratic base but showing little desire to introduce Obama as a central character in his race or make the contest a referendum of the administration’s policies.
Deeds was nowhere to be found when Obama came to Bristol, Virginia this week. And his opponent Bob McDonnell is very deliberately pressing Deeds to take a stand on the ultraliberal policies of Obama and the Democratic Congress.
But Corzine, among his many problems, may have trouble roping Obama into his gubernatorial race. Why would Obama want to show up in the wake of the massive corruption bust and use up his political capital on a governor trailing by double digits and with an approval rating of less than 40 percent? Corzine and the Trenton machine are about as far from “hope and change” as one can get — and Corzine’s fiscal woes and tax-hiking fetish isn’t exactly an agenda Obama wants to be associated with.
The two races come at a particularly troubling time for Obama and the Democrats as the president’s poll numbers are drifting downward and the public is registering its disapproval of the liberal agenda emanating from Washington. Things could look different on Election Day, but for now it appears that Obama’s impact may be neutral — or even a net negative — in races that rightly or wrongly will be viewed as precursors to the 2010 congressional elections.