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Morning Read: Gingrich's Va. Scramble Keeps Him Out of NH, Iowa

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Morning Read: Gingrich's Va. Scramble Keeps Him Out of NH, Iowa

AP

Republican presidential candidate former House Speaker Newt Gingrich speaks during a Republican presidential debate in Sioux City, Iowa, Thursday, Dec. 15, 2011. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, Pool)

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With the Iowa caucus just weeks away, why is former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich in Virginia? The sudden frontrunner is racing to get on the ballot for the state's March 6 primary, reports The New York Times.

"With 46 delegates at stake as part of Virginia's March 6 (Super Tuesday) primary, the state has some of the toughest ballot access requirements in the country," wrote NBC's John Bailey in the First Read blog.

Gingrich held a rally Wednesday night in Arlington, and will attend a fundraiser Thursday in Richmond. Thursday is the deadline to present a petition with 10,000 signatures -- 400 from each of Virginia's 11 congressional districts -- required to get on the ballot, reported Reuters.

Gingrich said Tuesday night that he'd gathered the necessary signatures, and expected to get more at his events this week, the Times reported: "The deadline for submitting the signatures in Virginia is Thursday, and Mr. Gingrich and his advisers were worried enough about the possibility of failing to get on the ballot that they scheduled two events in Virginia for Mr. Gingrich."

The diversion to Virginia kept Gingrich from campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire at a crucial time, and raised questions about his organization.

"The question with Gingrich has long been whether he can assemble an organization to match the momentum he acquired seemingly out of thin air last month. He barely made the ballot in Ohio this month," reported the LA Times.

"Once again in Virginia we're going to disappoint the Republican establishment because tomorrow in Richmond we're going to turn in vastly more signatures than we need," Gingrich said Wednesday, according to the Washington Examiner.

In better news for the candidate, a new poll from Quinnipiac University showed Gingrich, who has voted in Virginia since 2002, has a slight lead over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Washington Post reported.


* Former D.C. Mayor Adrian Fenty may be wondering where these numbers were a year ago. A poll released Thursday by the Clarus Research Group found that if a nominating contest was held now, Fenty would easily beat current Mayor Vince Gray, who snagged the nomination in the 2010 primary, according to the Washington City Paper's Loose Lips. Former Mayor Anthony Williams would also top Gray, the poll found. The poll also showed Gray with a 34 percent approval rating, WTOP reported.

"The bottom line in the survey's findings, though, isn't really news: Incumbent politicians in D.C. these days aren't very popular," said the City Paper.

* Maryland regulators have fined Pepco $1 million for failing to maintain its system, leaving its customers in the dark for long stretches, and inefficient communication, reported the Associated Press.

* First comes marriage, then comes... divorce. In early 2012, D.C.'s Council is expected to vote on a bill that would allow same-sex couples who marry in the District but live in other states to return to D.C. to divorce there, the Washington Blade reported.

* Asked about running for election while a disjointed Republican field was racing for the White House, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R-Va.) said he was glad Virginia has off-year elections, reported InsideNova. “Thankfully, I don’t have to run at the same time,” Cuccinelli said at the Prince William County Chamber of Commerce. He plans to run for governor in 2013.

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