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Afternoon Read: Kaine Likely Won't Face Democrat Competition in Senate Race

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    NEWSLETTERS

    While his main competitor, George Allen, is busy trying to beat three other candidates in the GOP Virginia Senate primary, Democrat Tim Kaine will coast straight to the general election.

    It looks like no other candidate will enter into the Democrat primary. Both of his potential primary opponents—political newcomers Courtney Lynch and Julien Modica—didn’t submit their petition signatures to be on the ballot and instead endorsed Kaine, according to The Washington Post.

    Via The Post:

    “We face a crucial election in November, and I am convinced there is no better candidate to serve Virginia in the U.S. Senate than former Governor Tim Kaine,’’ Lynch wrote in a statement sent by the Farm Team Wednesday. “Tim has an honorable record of service to our state, a tireless dedication to improving the lives of Virginia families, and he will bring commonsense solutions to Washington that will put our country on a solid foundation for economic growth.”

    Candidates wishing to run for Senate have until 5 p.m. Thursday to submit 10,000 signatures from across the state, with 400 of these signatures coming from each of the state’s 11 congressional districts.

    Kaine and Allen are both former governors of Virginia.

    Because the anti-Allen votes will be split among three candidates in the GOP primary, Allen shouldn’t have a tough time securing the nomination.

    But the fact that Kaine won’t have to campaign in a primary could give him a slight edge in the highly-anticipated face-off with Allen. Unlike Allen, Kaine won’t have had to spend money campaining for a primary.

    * The White House announced today that Michelle Obama will deliver the commencement addresses at Virginia Tech, North Carolina A&T and Oregon State University.

    In a press release, the first lady said she chose to speak at Virginia Tech because she was inspired by the resilience of the student body and she selected North Carolina AT&T because of the rich history of historically black colleges and universities that have been instrumental in educating generations of African Americans.

    She wanted to speak at Oregon State University because of the student body’s efforts to promote healthy communities through large-scale food donation drives. Her brother also serves as the school’s men’s basketball coach.

    While all these reasons are likely genuine, it’s suspicious that two of the universities—Virginia Tech and North Carolina At&T—are in crucial swing-states. It seems that she'll be killing two birds with one stone in these commencement speeches that fall during a presidential election year.

    * The Maryland Senate rejected a bill today that would let gas utilities surcharge customers up to $2 a month to pay for infrastructure improvements up front, according to The Baltimore Sun.

    The bill failed in a similar 22-23 vote on Tuesday but a motion to reconsider the bill passed. On Wednesday the bill failed in a 22-24 vote.

    The legislation, according to The Sun, would establish procedures under which the Public Service Commission could let the companies charge up to $2 a month per meter to finance projects to upgrade structures in advance.

    Opponents of the bill argued that it would have overturned the traditional framework whereby structures are renovated first and then utilities go to the PSC to seek cost recovery in future rate.

    Read more here.

    * Now back to Allen and Kaine. Both of these leading Virginia Senate candidates released statements today regarding the Obama administration’s announcement that it would implement an at least five-year long environmental study along the coast of Virginia to determine where oil production might be.

    Allen said:

    “My opponent, Tim Kaine, took steps to try to delay Virginia’s lease sale when he was Governor and it’s disappointing that President Obama is continuing that policy. Today’s announcement is just more showmanship from an out-of-touch Administration that has repeatedly said ‘No’ to American jobs and affordable energy even as gas prices have skyrocketed to near record highs. If President Obama and Tim Kaine wanted to help create jobs and reduce energy prices in the long-term, they would allow Virginians to access our oil and natural gas off our coast today – not six years from now.

    Kaine said:

    “When I instituted Virginia’s first comprehensive energy plan as Governor in 2007, I expressed openness to offshore exploration to determine the economic viability and extent of our natural gas resources. Today’s announcement is a step forward in determining the exact nature of the resources off our coast.

    “If it is determined that Virginia’s coastal grounds have sufficient energy resources, and if they can be developed safely, I hope Congress will promptly consider the Warner-Webb bill, which would ensure Virginia receives a fair share of revenues from offshore drilling. I also renew my call for the Department of the Interior to include Virginia in its five-year lease sale plan.

    * The Obama administration originally pledged $150 million a year for 10 years to fund upgrades and repairs to the D.C. metro system. Maryland and Virginia would nearly match this contribution, each chipping in $50 million a year over the next decade.

    But now the administration is cutting its share by $15 million this year, a cut that could amplify over the next decade and stall renovations.

    Washington regional leaders are understandably upset and are leading a campaign on Capitol Hill to block the president’s proposed cuts to the Metro system.

    Read the full story here.