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Posted at 12:29 PM ET, 12/30/2010

What you read: Top 15 blog posts of 2010

By Rosalind S. Helderman
Rosalind S. Helderman

Amid all the rankings of the top stories in Virginia politics for the year, we thought we'd add this one: A listing of the top 15 best-read Virginia Politics blog items of 2010, measured in page views.

You can see clearly what got readers' attention this year -- Confederate History Month sure brought eyeballs. And say what you will about Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli (R) -- he gets clicks.

You'll note that this list includes only blog postings. It doesn't track the more in-depth stories we wrote on many of these same topics. And if you notice an obvious topic missing from the list, it's probably because we chose to go online with the story first in article form elsewhere on our Web site rather than posting it first to this blog. We do that sometimes.

What do you think have been the biggest stories of the year? Let us know in the comments.

1.) Despite previous governors' refusals, McDonnell issues Confederate history month proclamation
Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) quietly declares April Confederate History Month, in a proclamation that omitted reference to slavery. He later apologized and amended the proclamation. and still later announced that he'd declare April 2011 "Civil War in Virginia" month instead of referencing the Confederacy. But it was too late; the story of his original proclamation was still the best-read of the year.

2.) Cuccinelli's office confirms Virginia will sue over health care
As Congress completed final votes on the sweeping federal health-care reform bill in March, a spokesman for Cuccinelli confirms that Virginia will definitely challenge the constitutionality of the law in court. Many other states would follow the same path, but Cuccinelli's office was the first to confirm legal action, and it got him national attention.

3.) Va. Senate votes to allow guns in restaurants
The Democratically controlled Virginia state Senate agrees to allow residents to carry guns in restaurants that serve alcohol, provided they don't drink. With the House of Delegates and the governor already on board, the vote meant the proposal was to become law. The floor debate over this bill featured one of our favorite exchanges of the 2010 legislative session. It was all about Red Lobster.

4.) Webb calls for end to most affirmative action programs, criticizes 'myth' of white dominance
In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, U.S. Sen. Jim Webb (D) expands on previous writings in which he criticized race-based affirmative action programs and defended working-class whites. The opinion piece got Webb criticism from former governor Doug Wilder (D) and the NAACP and proved, as if it needed proving, that the senator enjoys going his own way.

5.) Mississippi Gov. Barbour defends McDonnell's Confederate proclamation
The head of the Republican Governors Association takes to CNN to say McDonnell's Confederate History Month proclamation "doesn't amount to diddly." And, in so doing, he restarted a frenzy that had been in the process of dying down.

6.) McDonnell issues thorough apology for leaving slavery out of proclamation
How interested were readers in the Confederate History Month story? So interested that they ate up this blog post that simply included the full text of McDonnell's statement apologizing for the misstep.

7.) Cuccinelli: State can regulate abortion clinics
The attorney general opines that the state's Board of Health can regulate clinics and doctors that perform first-trimester abortions, contending that the board has the power to impose rules that the General Assembly has repeatedly declined to write into law. The board hasn't yet chosen to do so, but Cuccinelli's legal advice that it could got a great deal of attention.

8.) Cuccinelli: Va. police can ask about immigration status
Cuccinelli again! This time the attorney general issues legal guidance advising law enforcement officials that they are free to inquire about immigration status during routine traffic stops. Law enforcement largely shrugs, says they already believed they had the power and that the opinion will not change current practice.

9.) Norman Leboon charged with threatening to kill Cantor and his family
A scary moment as a Philadelphia man is charged with threatening U.S. Rep. Eric Cantor (R) and his family. The arrest came amid widespread attention given to death threats and harassment of Democratic members of Congress following the adoption of the federal health-care law.

10.) Marshall seeks to ban gays from Virginia National Guard
As Congress votes to repeal the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy regarding gay service members, Del. Bob Marshall (R-Prince William) announces that he'll sponsor legislation in 2011 barring gays and lesbians from serving openly in the Virginia National Guard. This one comes from just last week and will continue to make headlines in the new year.

11.) Judge quashes Cuccinelli subpoena of U-Va. records
An Albemarle judge hands Cuccinelli a legal blow when he quashes a civil subpoena from the attorney general seeking documents from the University of Virginia related to the work of climate scientist and former university professor Michael Mann. Cuccinelli went on to rewrite the civil investigative demand and resubmit it to the school. The university says Cuccinelli is unfairly targeting Mann, whose work has stood up to several previous inquiries, because he doesn't agree with the scientist's conclusions about global warming. Cuccinelli says he's investigating possible fraud. The case remains in litigation.

12.) Va. budget surplus reaches $400 million
A sliver of good news in a still-recovering economy -- The Post reveals that McDonnell will announce in mid-August that the state's budget surplus for the fiscal year that ended July 31 will be $400 million, almost twice what he had estimated a month earlier.

13.) McDonnell, other governors receive letter threatening 'removal' if they don't resign
About the same time as the Cantor threat, McDonnell turns over a threatening letter he received to the FBI, which says it's identical to letters received by a number of governors of both parties across the country.

14.) Connolly leads Fimian by 820 votes, but recount remains possible
On the day after the November congressional election, U.S. Rep. Gerry Connolly leads Republican challenger Keith Fimian in Northern Virginia, but only by a razor-thin margin. As the day wore on and more votes were counted, Connolly's lead expanded a bit but not enough to yank a concession from Fimian. Fimian ultimately did concede a few days later, and Connolly became the only Democratic freshmen in Virginia to win reelection.

15.) Va. health-care suit can go forward, federal judge rules
U.S. District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson refuses to dismiss Cuccinelli's lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the health-care law. Hudson went on to rule for Cuccinelli and strike a key provision of the statute that requires individuals to obtain health insurance by 2014. (We wrote about that ruling elsewhere on The Washington Post Web site.) The case has been appealed and the U.S. Supreme Court will probably ultimately determine the constitutionality of the law.

By Rosalind S. Helderman  | December 30, 2010; 12:29 PM ET
Categories:  Budget, Eric Cantor, Gerald E. Connolly, House of Delegates, James Webb, Ken Cuccinelli, Robert F. McDonnell, Rosalind Helderman, State Senate  
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