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    Christie, McAuliffe Win Key US Elections Tuesday

    Democrat Terry McAuliffe has won the Virginia governor's race, in a close victory over a Tea Party conservative, while New Jersey governor Chris Christie won re-election in key balloting Tuesday seen as an indicator of voter sentiment ahead of next year's midterm polls.

    Another key race was in New York, where voters elected Bill de Blasio, the city's first Democratic mayor since 1989, to succeed Republican-turned-independent Michael Bloomberg.

    In New Jersey, Christie held on to the governorship with more than 50 percent of the vote, drawing support from Democrats and independents. Christie drew the ire of right-wing Republicans last year when he became friendly with President Barack Obama during efforts to help the state's residents recover from Superstorm Sandy.

    The governor's race was much tighter in the state of Virginia, where voters include both Washington, D.C.-area suburbanites and voters from more conservative rural areas. Democrat McAuliffe eked out a narrow victory over Tea Party conservative Ken Cuccinelli, whom analysts say may have been hurt by the fact that his following is more far-right than moderate.

    U.S. political analysts are looking for clues from Tuesday's results to help predict the outcome of next year's congressional polls when all members of the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate are up for re-election.



    Voters in several other major cities, including Atlanta, Boston, Detroit, Houston and Miami, also elected mayors Tuesday.

    Commenting on the election results from Virginia, Democratic strategist Tad Devine says the ultraconservative Tea Party voters' refusal to compromise may have swayed the outcome of the gubernatorial race.



    "They basically said, listen, we're not compromising, even if it means defaulting on the debt of the United States, even if it means shutting down the government of the United States, we're not compromising. And now that reality of the Tea Party proposals has met the practical reality of running a government and dealing with an economy."

    Republican strategist Ford O'Connell says Cuccinelli's appeal to ultraconservatives in the Virginia race may have been his downfall.

    "
    Terry McAuliffe was a very flawed candidate, and Ken Cuccinelli had a great chance of winning this race, but unfortunately his appeal was limited solely to the conservative Tea Party base, and he could never get out of his own way and move forward and appeal to a broader set of voters."

    He says if the Tea Party wants to influence politics in the future, its members need to think past the politics of opposition.

    "
    2014 is going to be a make or break year for the Tea Party, particularly with the issues that are on the minds of the American voters: jobs, debt, and Obamacare. And if the Tea Party doesn't want to sort of die on the vine, it has to basically come up with a long-term strategy. Which means, it has to find a way to win elections and govern, as opposed to just trying to topple what it sees as mainstream GOP defectors."

    Americans also voted on a variety of ballot initiatives Tuesday.

    In the western state of Colorado, which legalized recreational marijuana last year, voters approved a measure to impose a 25 percent tax on the drug. The money would go toward regulating the marijuana industry and building schools.

    Voters in the state of Washington were asked whether to require genetically engineered food to be properly labeled.

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    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
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    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
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