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Election 2013: Virginia, New Jersey voters decide on key state offices
By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor

"We want an efficient transportation system that reduces gridlock for families and business," Gov-elect Terry McAuliffe tweeted last night shortly after winning his contest for Virginia governor.
McAuliffe, a Democrat, won a tight battle on Tuesday, Nov. 5, against Republican Ken Cuccinelli. In the only other gubernatorial election New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, handily won a second term in office over Democratic challenger Barbara Buono.
Christie has acted on many bills of interest to truckers since he took office in early 2010.

A year ago, he vetoed a bill to require the Port Authority of New York/New Jersey to create greater transparency and accountability. The change was sought in response to the 2011 implementation of the first phase of a multiphase toll increase on bridges and tunnels for cars and trucks.

Instead of limiting the focus to one agency, Christie urged lawmakers to extend the regulations to all multi-jurisdictional authorities.

In recent months, Christie signed bills into law to stiffen punishment for cargo thieves and authorize corporate sponsorship on rest areas along the New Jersey Turnpike, Garden State Parkway and other state-owned highways. The governor vetoed a bad bill that sought to deem port truckers, including owner-operators going onto a port, to be employees.

Christie has opposed a fuel tax increase to get transportation work done. Instead, he has relied on borrowing to pay for needed work.

McAuliffe supported Gov. Bob McDonnell’s five-year, $6 billion transportation funding initiative. The Republican governor’s funding plan converted the state’s excise tax on gas and diesel to a wholesale tax. Virginia’s general sales tax was also increased by 0.3 percent with the additional revenue pegged for transportation.

McAuliffe, a businessman and the former Democratic National Committee chair, said on the campaign trail that he would pursue similar bipartisan approaches to getting transportation work done throughout the state.

In addition to the gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey, many state legislative seats were also on ballots in the two states.

All of New Jersey’s 120 Assembly and Senate seats were contested with Democrats holding onto their majorities in each chamber. Virginia voters cast ballots on all 100 House lawmakers with Republicans keeping the majority.

Tuesday’s results keep Republicans in the majority in 56 of the nation’s 99 legislative chambers. Democrats control 41 chambers with the Virginia Senate tied. Nebraska has a single-chamber legislature that is nonpartisan.

With this year’s elections concluded, both parties turn their attention to 2014. At that time, 36 states will elect governors. Of those, four governors are term limited with two Democrats and two Republicans not eligible to seek re-election.

Twenty Republicans and 12 Democrats can pursue another term. Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, an Independent turned Democrat, chose not to pursue another term. Texas Gov. Rick Perry, a Republican, also decided not to run again.

Also, 85 percent of the nation’s state legislative seats will be up for grabs.

For more 2013 election coverage from Land Line, click here.

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