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Virginia Politics Blog: July 25, 2010 - July 31, 2010

Excerpts: Ken Cuccinelli answers readers' questions

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli took questions from Washington Post readers online earlier today. Below are some of his responses. Centreville Virginia: Ken, How do we encourage people, not force, as the recent legislation does, to buy health insurance for themselves? I am in total agreement with your lawsuit, but wonder how the number of uninsured can be reduced. Would tax incentives or some type of consequence work? Ken Cuccinelli: Another great question. There are a lot of things we can do, though no silver bullets. Certainly we need to be backing government out of its dominant role in the healthcare sector. That mostly has to happen at the federal level. At the state level, we can let people buy health insurance across state lines to increase choice and competition, both b/n states and b/n insurance companies. Arlington, VA: How would you say the culture and politics of Northern Virginia...

By Christopher Dean Hopkins  | July 30, 2010; 4:39 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli  
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Pr. William board chairman forms PAC to fight for immigration bill

Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, has formed a political action committee to push for his legislation that would force Virginia officials to crack down on illegal immigration. Stewart said he will use the money he raises through the Virginia Rule of Law PAC to first educate residents about his effort and later to donate to legislators of both political parties next year based on their voting record on this bill. Stewart, who has long considered a run for statewide office, said he plans to spend the fall traveling across the state selling the bill, which he hopes will be debated in the 2011 legislative session. "I want to build public knowledge of the bill and hammer the message home through the media through the legislative session,'' he said. "I intend for this to be a real big deal." Stewart opened the PAC, which is...

By Anita Kumar  | July 30, 2010; 4:38 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Corey Stewart, House of Delegates, Prince William, State Senate  
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Cuccinelli: New constitutional 'check' needed on federal government

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli says he'll be supporting a constitutional amendment to provide a new "check" on the power of the federal government. The idea came up during a live online chat with Washington Post readers Friday afternoon. A reader asked Cuccinelli whether he supports the repeal of the 17th Amendment, which requires the direct election of U.S. senators by popular vote. Before the 17th Amendment, senators were chosen by state legislatures. Repealing the amendment has become a popular idea among some members of the Tea Party movement, who think that the direct election of senators has deprived states of the power the country's founders intended for them to hold in a federalist system. In his response, Cuccinelli indicated that he doesn't support repealing the 17th Amendment, but he believes "the 17th Amendment had consequences that were not anticipated." "I expect to support an effort to create a new...

By Rosalind Helderman  | July 30, 2010; 4:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Rosalind Helderman  
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FAA bill delayed over DCA flights

Over on the Dr. Gridlock blog, Derek Kravitz reports that a funding bill for the Federal Aviation Administration, stalled in Congress, was put off again Friday morning, avoiding once more the question of whether Reagan National Airport should accommodate more long-haul flights.

By Washington Post Editors  | July 30, 2010; 4:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
 
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Virginia makes deal with CSX to advance DC-Richmond high speed rail

Virginia and CSX Transportation have reached an agreement about how to proceed with federal stimulus spending on a new high speed rail line between Washington and Richmond. A framework agreement over the $75 million project has now been submitted to the U.S. Department of Transportation. If the federal agency signs off, Gov. Bob McDonnell's office indicates work on the rail line can begin. CSX cooperation is necessary for the project since, like in most states, the rail corridor in Virginia is owned by the private company and used for freight transport. McDonnell said in a statement that Virginia is the first state in the country to reach agreement with its private rail corridor owner over use of its full stimulus grant award. CSX Chairman Michael J. Ward and McDonnell (R) met Thursday to discuss the project. "We look forward to working with CSX and the U.S. Department of Transportation to...

By Rosalind Helderman  | July 30, 2010; 3:21 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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Felon collected signatures for failed Arlington change-of-government initiative, official says

Cheryl Simmons, who circulated and signed off on 123 pages of a petition to get a change of government in Arlington County on the November ballot, is a felon and therefore not eligible to vote, said Linda Lindberg, general registrar of Arlington County. Only residents able to register to vote are permitted to collect signatures for ballot initiatives, according to county law.

By Christy Goodman  | July 30, 2010; 2:11 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  !Elections  
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Fairfax GOPers mingle with congressmen to raise money

More than 100 Fairfax County Republicans went on a field trip Thursday night to Capitol Hill to raise money for the county's GOP committee. They mingled with members of Congress -- many of the so-called Young Guns -- including Reps. Mike Pence, chairman of the House Republican conference, Kevin McCarthy, chief deputy whip, Mike Rogers (MI), Peter Roskam (IL), Paul Ryan (WI), John Shimkus (IL), Joe Wilson (SC), Frank Wolf and Eric Cantor, both of Virginia. Anthony Bedell, chairman of the Fairfax County Republican Committee, said the event offered Republicans an opportunity to meet members of Congress that they often see on TV. Lawmakers were able to stop by the Capitol Hill Club between votes. The committee raised about $15,000 with tickets selling for $50 to $500....

By Anita Kumar  | July 30, 2010; 12:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Eric Cantor, Fairfax County, Frank R. Wolf  
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Cuccinelli to field reader questions at 3 p.m.

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli will be live online with the Post this afternoon at 3 p.m., answering reader questions about his profile in this Sunday's magazine. Check out the story, an accompanying photo gallery or submit your questions early for the online chat....

By Rosalind Helderman  | July 30, 2010; 10:02 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli  
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Debate continues in Virginia over immigration enforcement

A longtime immigration advocate and lobbyist blasted Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, for proposing legislation Thursday that she said would "go far beyond the Arizona law by criminalizing even the simple act of seeking shelter by a person here without authority." Claire Guthrie GastaƱaga, a former chief deputy attorney general of Virginia, said Stewart's proposal will "foster nothing but a disrespect for the law, do nothing to make us safer, will render people homeless and hungry, will tie up our courts with frivolous lawsuits by vigilantes and interfere with the ability of law enforcement to focus on real crimes and real criminals." Stewart introduced a proposal, dubbed the Virginia Rule of Law Act, earlier Thursday that would enhance police officials' power to capture, detain and deport illegal aliens; curb illegal day laboring; and create specific state penalties for illegal immigrants. Virginia, known for some...

By Anita Kumar  | July 29, 2010; 6:12 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Corey Stewart, House of Delegates, Immigration, Ken Cuccinelli, State Senate  
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McDonnell embarks on statewide tour to sell ABC privatization plan

Gov. Bob McDonnell will hit the road next month to sell his plan to privatize the state's 332 liquor stores. McDonnell (R) will hold eight town hall meetings across the state starting Wednesday. Stops will be in Roanoke, Norfolk, Chester, Fredericksburg, Fairfax, Harrisonburg, Danville and Bristol. The governor formed a commission to consider closing some of the state's 130 agencies, putting more forms online, eliminating annual reports and selling the state's liquor stores. McDonnell's staff recently unveiled four options for privatizing the state's liquor stores: selling all of the state's alcohol assets to a single company; having firms take over the state's existing stores; offering licenses to the 3,000 businesses that sell beer and wine; and auctioning an undetermined number of licenses to the highest bidder. Thursday his staff announced the commission has postponed its final full meeting from Aug. 26 to Sept. 13 to allow more time before members...

By Anita Kumar  | July 29, 2010; 4:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (3)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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With EPA petition rejection, Virginia returns to court over global warming

The Environmental Protection Agency has denied Virginia's petition challenging its finding last year that the agency should regulate greenhouse gases because they cause global warming and endanger human health. Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II had filed one of 10 petitions asking the EPA to overturn the finding. He simultaneously sued the federal agency over the finding, but the court had put the legal proceedings on hold while the EPA went through its administrative review process. Cuccinelli has responded to the EPA's decision in a statement: The Attorney General has reviewed the EPA's press release announcing its denial of the rehearing petitions pending before the agency. When the Office of the Attorney General has fully reviewed the ruling the Attorney General will make an additional statement. One thing, however, is immediately apparent, the reviewing court is likely to find the decisions fatally flawed procedurally because the agency has reviewed and...

By Rosalind Helderman  | July 29, 2010; 3:14 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli, Rosalind Helderman  
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Warner, Scarborough chow down at the Palm

U.S. Sen. Mark Warner's turn on "Top Chef D.C." last night was fairly brief. (His verdict on one dish he sampled from a contestant chef, "I thought it was good, but then, it was like ... not.") But for those who followed the discussions last week about whether the former Virginia governor is a "foodie," check out this bonus clip now available on the Bravo Web site, in which Warner (D) addresses that very question -- posed to him by MSNBC's Joe Scarborough. In the clip, he mentions losing money on his King George vineyard and several restaurants. "I've got a graduate degree in how to lose money in the business," he jokes. Meanwhile, a spokesman said Warner had no comment about whether Alex stole Ed's pea puree....

By Rosalind Helderman  | July 29, 2010; 1:59 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Mark Warner, Rosalind Helderman  
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Prince William chairman unveils Arizona-like immigration bill

Corey Stewart, chairman of the Prince William Board of County Supervisors, released legislation today that outlines how Virginia can crack down on illegal immigration yet avoid the pitfalls Arizona has faced with its controversial immigration law. Dubbed the Virginia Rule of Law Act, the legislation enhances police officials' power to capture, detain and deport illegal aliens; curbs illegal day laboring; and creates specific state penalties for illegal immigrants. Like the Arizona law, Stewart's legislation states that law enforcement officials are required to check the status of anyone who is detained if there is "reasonable suspicion" that they are here illegally. Stewart, however, said his law will stand up in court because unlike Arizona, Virginia won't make it illegal for people not to carry their immigration documents with them. He also said there is a more conservative judiciary system in the commonwealth than out west. "This same model [was] used in...

By Anita Kumar  | July 29, 2010; 12:23 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (8)
Categories:  Corey Stewart, Immigration, Jennifer Buske  
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McDonnell downplays injunction issued against Arizona law

It's too early to do any analysis of the impact of Wednesday's court decision blocking the implementation of the most controversial pieces of Arizona's new immigration law, and efforts to adopt similar measures in Virginia, Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) said Thursday. As he has in other recent interviews, McDonnell did not offer a clear answer on whether he believes Virginia should adopt a similar statute, which includes a provision requiring immigrants to carry documentation showing they are in the country legally. Instead, McDonnell noted that Virginia has already adopted legislation that includes some of the same provisions as are contained in the multi-part Arizona law. "It's too early to get any comment on what's going on out there," McDonnell said on his monthly appearance on WRVA radio's Ask the Governor program. "This is a preliminary injunction by one federal district judge, who hasn't even ruled on the merits of whether...

By Rosalind Helderman  | July 29, 2010; 9:51 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (4)
Categories:  Corey Stewart, Immigration, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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Cuccinelli's reaction to Arizona ruling 'mixed'

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who to judge from his twitter feed had been eagerly awaiting Wednesday's court ruling on Arizona's new immigration law, said he has "mixed" feelings about the decision. U.S. District Judge Susan R. Bolton issued an injunction blocking the most controversial parts of the law from going into effect Thursday. Cuccinelli (R) filed a friend of the court brief along with attorneys general in eight other states supporting the Arizona law. Cuccinelli tweeted on Saturday that he had a "big week coming," citing the upcoming Arizona ruling among other expected developments this week. The Obama administration has argued Arizona overstepped its authority with the law, which required law enforcement to check the immigration status of anyone they believed might be in the country illegally....

By Rosalind Helderman  | July 28, 2010; 5:18 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (24)
Categories:  Corey Stewart, Immigration, Ken Cuccinelli, Rosalind Helderman  
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Cuccinelli giving up donations from former charity director

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) will give $55,500 in campaign funds to state veteran's charities, an amount that matches donations Cuccinelli received during his campaign from a Florida man associated with a charity under investigation in at least three states. Cuccinelli was the largest recipient in Virginia of donations from Tampa-based Bobby Thompson. Thompson was a founder of the U.S. Navy Veterans Association, whose solicitation practices have been questioned across the country. Law enforcement officials, for instance, have said that they have been unable to locate many of the officers and staffers of the organization listed on official charity documents. Other Virginia politicians, including Gov. Bob McDonnell (R), House Speaker Bill Howell (R) and Sen. Patsy Ticer (D), announced that they would donate money they were given by Thompson months ago. Cuccinelli had resisted, indicating that Thompson had not been convicted of wrongdoing. Last month, Cuccinelli said he...

By Rosalind Helderman  | July 28, 2010; 4:37 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli, Rosalind Helderman  
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Wolf: Dulles Greenway is 'highway robbery'

Derek Kravitz reports on the Dr. Gridlock blog that U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) has once again urged Virginia transportation officials to reduce toll fares on the Dulles Greenway, calling fare hikes in recent years "highway robbery."

By Washington Post Editors  | July 28, 2010; 3:56 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Tags:  dulles greenway, fare hikes, frank wolf, sean connaughton  
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Television time for Virginia politicians

Partisans on both sides of the aisle can look forward to seeing their elected officials featured in slightly unusual television appearances in coming days. Tonight, U.S. Sen. Mark Warner (D) will appear on an episode of Top Chef, joining MSNBC commentators Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski as a guest judge. Warner is the only senator who will be featured on the show this season, which taped in D.C., though we've seen promos for upcoming episodes that indicate House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will appear at some point. Meanwhile, Richmond residents should keep an eye out for Greta Van Susteren on Monday. The host of Fox News' On the Record will visit the state capital that day to tape a segment for her show with Virginia Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli (R), according to his people. Cuccinelli has appeared on Van Susteren's show several times but has always before visited her studio...

By Rosalind Helderman  | July 28, 2010; 3:20 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Ken Cuccinelli, Mark Warner, Rosalind Helderman  
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A tale of two districts: Connolly, Perriello split on extending Bush tax cuts

Reps. Gerald Connolly and Tom Perriello are both freshman Democrats from Virginia, and they vote together more often than not. But occasionally an issue will surface that makes clear the two men represent very different districts and constituencies.

By Ben Pershing  | July 28, 2010; 12:30 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (5)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races, Ben Pershing, Election 2010, Gerald E. Connolly, Tom Perriello  
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Fairfax moves to ban smoking at bus shelters

Fairfax County officials are pushing to ban smoking at all public bus shelters, eight months after Virginia's restaurant-and-bar smoking ban went into effect. The ban would address the "health implications of breathing secondhand smoke," said Fairfax Supervisor Jeff C. McKay (D-Lee), the board's transportation committee chairman. Virginia's no-smoking law was approved by the General Assembly in February 2009 and went into effect last December. The District and Maryland have similar state laws regarding smoking in restaurants and bars. The Virginia Clean Air Act allows localities to institute "reasonable no-smoking areas" at publicly-owned or leased facilities and bus shelters qualify as buildings under Virginia's building code. The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously late Tuesday to draft an ordinance for final adoption. In December, Virginia joined the District, Maryland and dozens of other cities and states by effectively outlawing smoking inside restaurants and bars. Under the law, owners could allow smokers to...

By Derek Kravitz  | July 28, 2010; 12:08 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (29)
Categories:  !General Assembly, Derek Kravitz, Fairfax County, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors  
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Updated: Obama skips, McDonnell attends historic boy scout jamboree

Gov. Bob McDonnell addresses the boy scouts at the 2010 jamboree. Photo courtesy of the governor's office President Obama may not be planning to speak at the 100th anniversay of the boy scouts' jamboree today in Virginia, but Gov. Bob McDonnell wouldn't miss it. McDonnell was a boy scout. His two sons were boy scouts. And his wife, Maureen, and all three of their daughters were girl scouts or brownies. The jamboree began this week at Fort A.P. Hill in Bowling Green, less than an hour from Richmond. Held at that location since 1981, it will the last time the event will be held in Virginia. In 2006, McDonnell (R) fought back against the ACLU, which tried to end the jamboree, arguing that the Defense Department's financial support of the event violates the separation of church and state. He called the lawsuit an "attack by the left wing on...

By Anita Kumar  | July 28, 2010; 9:00 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (62)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Barack Obama, Robert F. McDonnell  
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New working group, same issues with Defense base closure in '11

Northern Virginia officials are starting their own working group to tackle the bevy of funding and traffic concerns connected with the upcoming Defense Department base closure and realignment. Problem is, the so-called Northern Virginia BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) Working Group sounds very similar to a group that has been formed -- one started by former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner (D) in 2005 and which handed down a series of overarching recommendations several months later (PDF). Funding issues and traffic concerns over the planned realignment of Defense jobs along the Interstate 95 corridor in Northern Virginia have lingered for years, and officials are still unsure where more than $400 million in needed ramps, widened roads and soundwalls will come from. But Alexandria officials have been particularly worried about the loss of thousands of jobs to Fairfax County areas because of the move....

By Derek Kravitz  | July 27, 2010; 5:22 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  Derek Kravitz, Fairfax County, Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, House of Delegates, State Senate, Transportation  
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Rasmussen poll shows 64 percent approval rating for McDonnell

A new poll from Rasmussen Reports shows considerably stronger approval numbers for Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) than a poll released last week by Virginia Commonwealth University. The Rasmussen poll indicates that 64 percent of Virginia voters approve of McDonnell's performance as governor, with 29 percent approving strongly. Only 33 percent disapprove of his performance. Those numbers are essentially unchanged, the polling agency notes, since February, shortly after McDonnell took office. The poll showed McDonnell more popular with men than women, more popular with whites than African-Americans, and more popular with Republicans than Democrats. It indicated 68 percent of voters who do not affiliate with either party approve of his performance. The Rasmussen poll surveyed 500 likely voters. Households were surveyed using recorded messages rather than live interviewers--the Washington Post's polling unit believes the latter produces more accurate results. The VCU poll from last week used a combination of live and...

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | July 27, 2010; 5:00 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Barack Obama, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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Cuccinelli, Ron Paul to address first Virginia Tea Party convention

Former Sen. George Allen (R), U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Tex.) and Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) have all confirmed that they will speak at Virginia's first annual Tea Party Convention in October, a convention organizer said today.

By Rosalind Helderman  | July 27, 2010; 4:26 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (7)
Categories:  George F. Allen, Ken Cuccinelli, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman  
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McDonnell says sale of liquor stores will provide 'windfall' for state

Gov. Bob McDonnell said Tuesday that he is pushing to privatize the state's 332 liquor stores because it can provide a "windfall" for Virginia's transportation needs.

By Anita Kumar  | July 27, 2010; 12:35 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (6)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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Virginia NAACP head slams Webb for affirmative action column

The head of the Virginia Conference of the NAACP lashed out at Sen. James Webb (D-Va.) Monday, three days after Webb stirred controversy with an op-ed piece suggesting most government diversity programs should be abolished because they "marginalized" white Americans.

By Ben Pershing  | July 26, 2010; 5:16 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (37)
Categories:  Ben Pershing, James Webb  
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McDonnell's job commission finishes interim report

Gov. Bob McDonnell's jobs commission made 115 interim recommendations today when it met for its second time at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College in Richmond. Recommendations include the creation of a tourism development fund to provide gap financing for locally endorsed and supported tourism projects; the development of think tanks with academic institutions that carry on the economic strategies and target sectors at the state level; and the communication of regulatory and legislative changes to small businesses and entrepreneurs that affect their businesses. The full list can be found here. Commission "recommendations are very important to helping us decide what additional improvements and investments we need to make in our current economic development programs to make certain that we do everything we can to get Virginia's economy moving again," said Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, the state's chief jobs creation officer, who co-chairs the commission. McDonnell, who was just back from...

By Anita Kumar  | July 26, 2010; 4:50 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Bill Bolling, Robert F. McDonnell  
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Cuccinelli headlines fundraiser for NoVa congressional candidate

Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) will headline a fundraiser Monday evening for Patrick Murray, who is challenging U.S. Rep. Jim Moran (D) in Virginia's 8th Congressional District.

By Rosalind Helderman  | July 26, 2010; 2:58 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (1)
Categories:  2010 Virginia Congressional Races, Election 2010, James P. Moran Jr., Ken Cuccinelli, Rosalind Helderman  
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Bolling heads to Mississippi for oil spill briefing, national meeting

When Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, chairman of the National Lieutenant Governor's Association, flies to Biloxi, Miss., this week for the group's annual meeting, he will get a first-hand look at the impact of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

By Anita Kumar  | July 26, 2010; 1:44 PM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (0)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Bill Bolling  
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McDonnell to speak to the U.S. House Republican caucus

Gov. Bob McDonnell will speak to U.S. House Republicans Tuesday morning at the Capitol Hill Club, a GOP social club in Washington. Phil Cox, McDonnell's senior adviser, said McDonnell will speak about running a model campaign and delivering on his campaign promises in his first six months in office. Republicans, eager to duplicate McDonnell's success in the 2010 midterm elections, have been trying to line up the governor since his 17-point win over state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds in November. McDonnell was supposed to speak to U.S. House Republicans in January at their annual retreat, "Winning Back America," in Baltimore, but canceled at the last minute because of an impending snowstorm that was supposed to leave as much as a foot of snow in parts of the state. Tuesday night, McDonnell will headline a fundraiser for former state senator Dino Rossi, who is running against Democratic U.S. Sen. Patty Murray...

By Anita Kumar  | July 26, 2010; 10:30 AM ET  |  Permalink  |  Comments (2)
Categories:  Anita Kumar, Robert F. McDonnell  
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