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There are big races for governor about to end next week in both New Jersey and Virginia, and together the races are a tale of two very different Republicans, NBC's First Read team writes. In Virginia, GOP candidate and current Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli seems poised to lose the state's highest office to Democrat, Clinton acolyte and former party boss Terry McAuliffe — and in a purple state like Virginia, what Mitt Romney might call Cuccinelli's severe conservatism could be costing him the governor's mansion. Cuccinelli represents the GOP's conservative wing, typified too by firebrands like Sen. Ted Cruz — but on the other side of the Republican divide is New Jersey's widely popular Gov. Chris Christie, whose win of a second term in an indubitably blue state is all but guaranteed, given his pragmatism and electability. The Virginia and New Jersey races can also be seen as a proxy for the 2016 presidential race, if Christie runs; McAuliffe's top campaign staffers could well head to the 2016 Hillary Clinton campaign, if there is one.
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