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Afternoon Read: Virginia GOP Stirring Controversy Nationwide

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Va. GOP Stirring Controversy Nationwide

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Led by Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney arrives for an address to the Northern Virginia Technology Council and the Consumer Electronics Association during a breakfast Feb. 10.

The Virginia Republicans are doing more than just ruffling Democrat feathers this legislative session—they’re making national headlines and angering Democrats around the country.

In control of the House, Senate and governor’s mansion for only the second time since the Civil War, the state’s GOP party has pushed a socially conservative agenda this year. The GOP government has lobbied for bills that define personhood at conception, allow private adoption agencies to discriminate against gay couples and require women to get vaginal ultrasounds prior to abortions.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow talked about women’s reproductive rights in Virginia on her show Tuesday night and concludes that the recent legislation “hits women below the belt.”

She particularly honed in on already passed legislation that would require women to have “medically unnecessary, unwanted vaginal ultrasounds” prior to getting an abortion.

“The Republicans of Virginia seriously want a government so big that it can literally get inside individual citizens’ genitals by force, without consent,” Maddow said.

Click here to watch Maddow talk about Virginia on her show.

These reproductive issues will definitely come into play during both the national and state elections.

Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell—widely considered to be a top vice-presidential contender—said he would sign the personhood bill if it makes it to his desk, a position that aligns him with Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s anti-abortion and anti-contraception views.

A heated race for a U.S. Senate seat is already under way between two former governorsin Virginia—Tim Kaine and George Allen.

Kaine, a Democrat, released a statement against the personhood amendment. Via the Huffington Post:

“I strongly disagree with the House of Delegates' vote to enact personhood legislation," he said in a statement. "This reckless proposal, supported by my opponents, including Bob Marshall and George Allen, could threaten access to some forms of birth control for women across Virginia. Even when given the opportunity to reaffirm their support for contraception, Marshall and Virginia House Republicans rejected a measure to create a safe harbor protecting women's access to birth control”

Allen, a Republican, hasn’t come out forthright with a position but said in a recent interview that he agrees with the personhood amendment but thinks it could be amended so that it cannot be interpreted as a ban on contraception.

His website states his views on abortion and personhood:

“My commitment to protecting innocent human life is firm. I believe that life begins at conception and support legislation declaring the personhood of every individual life."

* Maryland Democrat congressional hopeful John Delaney aired his first television ad Wednesday. He is running against state Sen. Rob Garagiola to secure the Democratic nomination. The ultimate nominee will likely face veteran House member Roscoe Bartlett (who does face a competitive primary on his end).

In the ad, Delaney portrays himself as a job-creating type of guy with blue-collar roots.

The Post reports that Garagiola has been getting the backings of key groups in organized labor.

Watch the ad below.

* A package of GOP transportation bills is scheduled to go before the U.S. House this week and Virginia leaders are pushing Gov. McDonnell to oppose the bill because it would slash $361 million in federal transportation funding to the state.

If passed, the bills would impact federal highway funding, mass transit support and congestion mitigation and air quality funding.

Congressmen Gerald Connolly, Jim Moran and Bobby Scott wrote in a letter to the governor:

By jeopardizing tens of millions of dollars in federal mass transit support for Virginia, H.R. 7 breaks a 30-year federal commitment to supporting such options for commuters. This legislation will eliminate the dedicated funding for mass transit systems like the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority and others across the Commonwealth.

The federal government provides the largest source of transportation funding in the Commonwealth, so we stand ready to work with you in a bipartisan fashion to make the necessary investments to keep our people and our economy moving. Unfortunately, these bills are a lose-lose proposition for Virginia and would actually undermine those efforts.

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