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Morning Read: Gingrich Still a Factor in VA Primary?

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Don’t assume the Virginia primary is going to be a sleeper just because Mitt Romney and Ron Paul are the only two candidates on the ballot. It seems that Newt Gingrich—who didn’t collect enough petition signatures to get on the ballot—may have a few tricks up his sleeve.

    Talking Points Memo is reporting on rumors of a Santorum-Gingrich anti-Romney pact that would make a serious effort to try and swing the Virginia primary in Ron Paul’s favor.  The idea has been circulating on some Ron Paul supporter websites.

    With an open primary in the state, independent voters could have a strong voice.  Even so, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling—a Romney supporter—addressed the rumors and said it is unlikely that any sort of plan would work.

    Bolling on public radio Tuesday, via TPM:

    “By the time our primary comes around, [Romney] should have a good head of steam behind him and hopefully we’ll be able to fend off Congressman Paul and any efforts that Speaker Gingrich and former Sen. Santorum might make here in Virginia,” he said.

    Bolling did say however, that such a pact wasn’t necessarily a bad idea.  “It wouldn’t surprise me at all to see them do that," he said.  "Probably if I were in their shoes, I’d try to do the same thing.”

    * On a related topic, the Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill Thursday that would allow voters to write in names on a primary ballot.

    The bill was in part motivated by Newt Gingrich's attempt to start a write-in campaign, after failing to get onto the March primary ballot.  Virginia allows write-ins for the general election, but not for
    primaries.

    A final vote is expected Friday before the bill heads to the Senate.

    * High times may be coming to D.C. soon. weGrow, a franchise that sells all of the products and services one would need to grow marijuana, will be opening in D.C. on Rhode Island Ave on March 3.

    According to RhodeIslandAvene.com, the store, which doesn’t actually sell the marijuana plant, has a 2,500 square-foot store providing services and products to medical marijuana cultivators and indoor gardening enthusiasts.

    weGrow D.C. sponsored the First Annual Washington DC Medical Marijuana Symposium Thursday.

    RhodeIslandAvene.com writes:

    Given the controversial nature of the store and the community’s well documented hesitations about anything involving drugs, it will be interesting to see if and how they engage the community.

    * Washington City Paper reports that Mayor Vincent Gray changed his Twitter avatar picture recently. For the better?  Judge for yourself by clicking here.

    *In what some may consider to be more important news, a campaign aide to D.C. Council member Yvette Alexander testified Thursday to fraudulently signing ballot nominating petitions, according to The Washington Post.  The aide said he signed off on the petitions as a circulator, although he did NOT actually circulate the ballots himself.  The aide said those petitions were never actually submitted.

    The Board of Elections and Ethic is currently considering whether to allow Alexander to remain on the April 3 primary ballot.

    * Larry Hogan, a former state cabinet secretary and the chairman of Change Maryland, had an interesting op-ed in the Baltimore Sun Thursday, comparing Gov. O’Malley with VA Gov. Bob McDonnell.  Both governors say they want to emphasize job creation, but the Democrat and the Republican laid out two different approaches.

    Hogan criticizes the number of new taxes and tax increases O’Malley has proposed this year:

    Private-sector job creation was a major focus of the State of the Commonwealth speech Governor O'Donnell delivered Jan. 11. The governor proposed a $37 million package consisting of tax credits for small business and other measures intended to support existing economic development initiatives. Further, Governor McDonnell's biennial budget included no new tax increases.

    Read more here.