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Afternoon Read: McDonnell, General Assembly Approval Ratings Drop

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell talks to the media after voting in the Virginia Republican presidential primary in Richmond, Va., March 6.

    A new poll found that a drop in Gov. Bob McDonnell’s approval rating is linked to Virginia voters' disapproval of state measures that make it harder to get an abortion and easier to buy a handgun.

    The Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday found that voters approve 53 - 32 percent of the job Gov. McDonnell is doing, down from a 58 - 24 percent score February 9.

    This is the governor’s lowest approval rating since June 2011, when Quinnipiac started conducting these polls. Women approve of McDonnell 49 - 34 percent, down from 54 - 25 percent last month, while men approve 58 - 31 percent, compared to 62 - 23 percent last month.

    Voters decisively believe—72-21 percent—that government should not make laws which try to convince women seeking an abortion to change their minds.

    They similarly disagree 52-41 percent with the controversial measure that requires women seeking an abortion to undergo an ultrasound examination at least 24 hours before the procedure.

    Virginians also prefer, 53 - 40 percent, the state’s old law which limited an individual's handgun purchases to one per month over the new one passed this year. There are no limits under the new measure.

    "The governor's numbers are down, from a net positive 34 percentage points last month to a net 21 points today, but he's still above the 50-percent mark," said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "The controversy over the ultrasound and handgun bills would be a logical explanation for the decline in his approval rating, which had been above 60 percent for much of last year."

    The State Legislature has a negative approval rating of 38 - 47 percent, a 19 point shift from a 47 - 37 percent positive approval rating February 9 and the first time the legislature has received a negative rating since June 2011.

    All the other statewide officials that pollers were asked about—U.S Sen. Mark Warner, U.S. Sen. Jim Webb, Lt. Gov Bill Bolling and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli—had net positive approval ratings.

    * Maryland senators are scheduled to hear testimony on a bill that would require hospitals and abortion providers to report the number of abortions that are given in their facilities, according to the AP.

    The bill would require the state Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to collect demographic information of women treated in Maryland. The report would also include the estimated gestational age of the fetus at the time of the abortion, the number of prior pregnancies the patient had and, the AP reports, the “outcome” of those pregnancies.

    The patient’s name would not be included in the record, and the documents would not be considered public record.

    * Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling’s campaign for governor of Virginia is officially under way.

    Now that the legislative session is over—albeit a $85 billion budget that still needs to be passed—Bolling announced Wednesday that he hired three people to lead his campaign.

    The Washington Post reports that longtime political operative Ben Marcus will be general consultant. Christie Heath—who worked for Gov. Bob McDonnell and former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore-will be the finance director.

    And Trixie Averill, a Republican activist and former Virginia state director for American for Prosperity, will be the political director in western Virginia.

    * Early voting for the Maryland presidential primary will begin Saturday and run through March 29. 

    The early voting centers will be open from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m. every day of early voting, except on Sunday when polls will be open from noon until 6 p.m. Voters who are in line by the closing time will be allowed to vote.

    Click here for information about your specific polling location.

    Mike DeBonis has a column on Pete Ross—the wealthy D.C. businessman running for shadow senator.

    Ross, he writes, has pumped $200,000 into his campaign for a position that holds relatively no power and yields no paycheck.

    But Ross said he has a house in Palm Beach and Manhattan Beach, Calif., and he doesn’t even feel the $200,000 hit at all.

    "This year, the $202,000 he’s injected into his campaign coffers would be enough to make him the best-financed candidate in the race for an at-large D.C. Council seat — a position that comes with actual power and a decent paycheck. But instead he’s challenging incumbent Michael D. Brown (D) for the powerless, payless shadow senator job."

    "Should Ross outpoll Brown in the April 3 Democratic primary, he would likely have six years worth of access to a soapbox to advocate for District statehood — a relatively small soapbox."

    Ross’s first business failed in 2002 and he didn't remit $203,651.43 worth of payroll taxes on behalf of his employees.

    Ross lied to the IRS when they questioned him and hid his assets from investigators. He ended up pleading guilty to a felony tax evasion charge in 2007 and served 90 days in a half way house.

    He has since opened a new successful business.

    Ross is now selling his redemption story to voters, but DeBonis questions whether this is the right time for such a story in D.C. politics.

    All well and good, and D.C. voters sure love a redemption story. But with all that’s going on in the city — a council member soon headed to prison; federal agents digging deep into campaign misdeeds — do we really need a convicted felon in citywide office?

    That’s what Brown’s asking. “I’m all about redemption, too, but a guy with this kind of record can’t go up to Capitol Hill,” Brown says. “You go up there and they say to you: ‘How are you going to be a state when you can’t run your own affairs?’ ”

    * Capital Bikeshare is partnering with a nonprofit to try and get homeless people enrolled in the city bikeshare program.

    According to Washington City Paper, discounted bikeshare memberships will only be available to people who have a 90 percent attendance record at training sessions headed by the non-profit organization Back on my Feet.

    The initial pilot program will include 10 people who will be able to use the transit benefits they receive from the organization to pay for a $50 Capital Bikeshare member, reduced from the $75 normal rate.

    Back on my Feet’s volunteer group of about 150 people will also be able to get the membership at the reduced rate, City Paper reports.