TPM News

After hopping a plane to New Jersey earlier this evening as returns began to show a victory for Republican governor-elect Chris Christie, RNC chair Michael Steele will head back to the airport to fly back to to D.C. and gloat to the press about his party's dual wins in both New Jersey and Virginia.

Steele will host a 10 a.m. press conference at RNC headquarters in Washington, where he'll talk about tonight's victories (and maybe a defeat, too -- as of this post, the Democratic nominee is still leading in NY-23). The victory lap comes less than a year after Steele began his turbulent tenure as the head of the Republican party, and it's fair to say it will be the first objectively great day for Republicans since President Obama's victory last November. Expect to see a lot of smiles from a lot of tired Republican operatives who won't be getting much sleep tonight.

In a Maine ballot measure, the votes against gay marriage have taken the lead, with 51 percent of the vote.

With 28 percent of precincts reporting, it's still too soon to call. But it's worth noting that the numbers have flipped in favor of abolishing Maine's gay marriage law. From the time the polls closed at 8 p.m. until just recently, the numbers had shown more votes to uphold gay marriage.

Votes for Question 1 would abolish the law, and votes against it would uphold gay marriage.

The high turnout -- the city clerk in Bangor, for example, saw more voters than at a gubernatorial election -- does, however, bode well for gay marriage.

After hearing from all sides of her caucus, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has announced some minor changes to the health care bill she unveiled last week, enshrined in a so called "Manager's Amendment" to the greater bill she plans to bring to the floor.

You can read the Manager's Amendment here (PDF). By agreement, it will have to be online for at least 72 hours before the bill can come to the floor, meaning we could see action by the end of the week. At a glance I see some tweaks firming up the provisions ending the anti-trust exemptions for insurance companies, and creating some real consequences for violators.

Again, at a glance, I see no changes to the public option, particularly one, requested by House progressives, to create a ceiling on the rates negotiated between the government and health care providers. I also see not a single word about abortion--Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) wants to ban any and all federal money--including money spent on subsidies for private insurance plans--from paying for abortions, and he's been raising quite a fuss about it.

But it's legislative text, so we're still going through it, and will certainly have more for you in the morning.

Late update: Pelosi has issued a statement on the amendment, which I've pasted below the fold.

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Democrat Bill Owens leads conservative party candidate Doug Hoffman by 51-44 percent with one-third of precincts reporting.

If Owens hangs onto that margin, New York's 23rd Congressional district will be the only bright spot on the map for Democrats tonight.

In his victory speech tonight, Gov-elect Bob McDonnell (R-VA) thanked his rival Creigh Deeds (D) and promised to work for all Virginians.

He also said he'd keep working with Deeds, who will remain in the state senate.

Deeds just sent supporters a thank-you note and said he will keep fighting "for the working families of Virginia."

Full note after the jump.

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The Associated Press and MSNBC have called it for Republican Chris Christie in the New Jersey gubernatorial election.

With 71 percent of precincts reporting, Christie had 50 percent of the vote. His opponent, Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine, trailed with 44 percent.

As results trickled in tonight, Christie held the lead but the race was too close to call. But as the night wore on, signs that Christie would take it appeared. RNC chairman Michael Steele flew from Virginia Governor-elect Bob McDonnell's victory party to New Jersey. And bellwether counties started going to Christie.

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Polls have been closed for more than an hour in New York's 23rd Congressional district, but neither candidate has a clear advantage.

Democrat Bill Owens has a slight lead over Doug Hoffman, the conservative party candidate, with early returns trickling in.

The victor will replace Republican John McHugh, who President Obama named to be his secretary of the Army.

Hoffman appeared earlier on Fox:

As national GOP leaders continue to suggest his victory his a boon for Republicans across the country, governor-elect Bob McDonnell kept it local in his Virginia victory speech tonight.

"To my fellow Virginians I say I am very humbled and honored," McDonnell told a cheering crowd at his victory rally in Richmond tonight. "I am ready to go to work to serve you and help lead Virginia for the next four years."

He made no mention of the national Republican resurgence GOP leaders say McDonnell's landslide victory over Democratic nominee Creigh Deeds brings with it.

"For those of you who are here who supported me I say 'thank you,'" McDonnell said. "For those of you who did not support me I say, 'give me a chance to earn your trust.'"

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With 64 percent of precincts reporting, Republican Chris Christie is leading Democratic Gov. Jon Corzine 50 to 44 percent in the New Jersey gubernatorial race.

The race is still too close to call. With important bellwether precinct numbers yet to come in, Corzine has been holding on.

But, as TPMDC's Eric Kleefeld explains, two counties which voted against Corzine in the last gubernatorial race -- Monmouth and Ocean -- have swung even further away from the governor this year.

We're still a ways away from calling it, but things aren't looking good for Corzine.

Late update: In a more troubling sign for the governor, GOP sources tell TPMDC RNC Chairman Mike Steele is boarding a plane bound for New Jersey.

UPDATE - 10:16 P.M.: We called this race for Mike Bloomberg based on the calls of MSNBC and The New York Times. Just before 10 p.m., Rachel Maddow reported on MSNBC that the network's call had been retracted. While Maddow said Democrat Bill Thompson had already called Bloomberg to concede, she7said that MSNBC was dialing back its call on the race. Maddow said the network had originally relied on a local election monitoring service to make the call for Bloomberg, and that the service had since retracted its call. We're looking for more information.

UPDATE - 10:19 PM: The New York Times seems to be walking back its call too. It's changed its headline to "Bloomberg Projected To Win 3rd Term."

MSNBC and The New York Times called the New York City mayor's race for incumbent Mike Bloomberg. He beat Democratic challenger, city comptroller Bill Thompson.

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