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Election Day ’09: Races to Watch

Among the votes to watch on Tuesday are a race for a Congressional seat, two governor’s races and a special issue vote on gay marriage.


A closely-watched race has unfolded for the Congressional seat representing New York’s 23rd district. The seat was vacated by Republican John McHugh, who was appointed by President Barack Obama to be Secretary of the Army.

The race has seen some unexpected twists and turns in the final run-up to Election Day. The Republican candidate, DeDe Scozzafava, bowed out of the race at the last minute and endorsed Democratic hopeful Bill Owens after conservative figures like former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and FOX News host Glenn Beck decided to endorse the Conservative Party nominee, Douglas Hoffman.

According to the New York Times, Scozzafava had been under intensifying criticism from conservative leaders due to her support of gay rights and abortion rights, among other issues.

Listen to news reporter Brian Mann of North Country Public Radio discuss the race and how the national attention has impacted discussion of local issues in the 23rd district:


In Maine Tuesday, a referendum known as “Question 1” will ask voters to decide whether to repeal a same-sex marriage law signed into law in May by Democratic Gov. John Baldacci that made such unions legal in the state.

If voters uphold the law, it will be the first time the electorate in any state has endorsed marital rights for same-sex couples.

Listen to deputy news director Susan Sharon of Maine Public Broadcasting explain the referendum here:


The Virginia governor’s post opened up after Gov. Tim Kaine was named head of the Democratic National Committee. Polls have favored Republican former state attorney general Bob McDonnell over state senator Creigh Deeds, a Democrat. McDonnell gained steam thanks in part to a successful ad campaign that highlighted what he said were conflicting statements from Deeds on raising taxes.

NewsHour senior correspondent Judy Woodruff, who moderated a debate in October between McDonnell and Deeds, discusses the Virginia race here and what it may mean for President Obama’s popularity in the “purple” state:


In New Jersey, polls indicate that the gubernatorial race between incumbent Democrat Jon Corzine and his Republican challenger, Chris Christie, is still a tight race.

A Quinnipiac University poll released Monday showed the two in a statistical tie, with Christie garnering 42 percent of voters’ support and Corzine 40 percent — within the poll’s 2.5 percent margin of error.

Independent party candidate Christopher Daggett has 12 percent of the vote, and his supporters may prove key to the race’s outcome — 38 percent of them said they might change their vote by Election Day, according the Quinnipiac poll.

The race has also been seen as a referendum on Corzine’s leadership during the economic downturn of the past year and on the power of campaigning from President Obama.

Public radio station WNYC is offering special coverage of both the New York congressional and New Jersey governor’s races here: http://blogs.wnyc.org/news/tag/vote-2009/.