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Morning Read: McDonnell Neutral For Now

Playing his cards close to the chest

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC Richmond’s Ryan Nobles reports Gov. Bob McDonnell continues to hold his cards close to his chest regarding a possible presidential endorsement, suggesting he may name no favorite before the March 6 Virginia primary. McDonnell is said to have his eyes on the national ticket, and, Nobles writes, “picking the wrong candidate could force him out the VP running altogether.”

    McDonnell did reiterate “his preference for a governor and made note of the three former state CEO’s still in the race, Mitt Romney, Rick Perry and Jon Huntsman.” But he also said, “If I feel compelled to make an endorsement I will. Right now I am passionately neutral and am watching from afar.”

    Across the Potomac, the Baltimore Sun reports the prospect of an extended GOP primary season has Maryland Republicans thinking their April 6 primary might be unexpectedly relevant. The “roller-coaster race” has “inspired talk of a prolonged battle that could carry on well into the spring,” and new GOP delegate allocation rules mean it could take longer than usual for a candidate to clinch the nomination.

    * George Allen spoke with the Danville Register and Bee Wednesday about “his ‘Blueprint for America’s Comeback,’ which outlines goals and ideas Allen believes would help Virginia’s competitiveness and job growth.” The plan “includes allowing resource exploration off Virginia’s coast, shale natural gas and coal-bed methane development, improving clean coal technology, recycling spent nuclear fuel and energy efficiency.”

    * The Washington Times reports Maryland House Minority Leader Anthony O’Donnell plans to keep his leadership role as he makes a Republican run for Congress in the Fifth District, “despite questions about whether his candidacy could be a distraction.” He will “likely will be a heavy underdog,” but could be incumbent Steny Hoyer’s “most credible challenger in many years.”

    O’Donnell is already taking hits from several angles. Tea Party Caucus Chairman Del. Michael Smigiel says he should step down from the leadership, Maryland Juice reports, while the state Democratic Party calls O’Donnell “another out of touch, obstructionist” candidate “who has shown he values partisan politics over consensus and solutions for Marylanders.”

    * It’s a landslide for “undecided” in a poll commissioned for John Delaney in the Maryland Sixth District House Democratic primary race.   Roll Call reports state Sen. Robert Garagiola, “the most organized candidate and the perceived Democratic frontrunner,” had the support of 14% of respondents, while Delaney and Duchy Trachtenberg were tied at nine percent each. More than two-thirds of respondents were undecided. Delaney has not yet formally entered the race, “but a spokeswoman said his camp is ‘encouraged by these results.’”

    * In Baltimore Wednesday night, “far from their home bases in the Washington suburbs, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and Comptroller Peter Franchot” held fundraisers “in their undeclared race for governor in 2014,” Maryland Reporter says. Gov. Martin O’Malley and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake hosted the Brown event, while Franchot sought donations at Sabatino’s in Little Italy.

    Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports current governor O’Malley “sent out an email Wednesday night to past campaign supporters to make sure they know about a pair of concerts that his semi-retired Celtic rock band is booked to play Dec. 29 at the Rams Head Tavern in Annapolis.”

    * Virginia Virtucon says Prince William County Chairman Corey Stewart has $297,374 in his campaign account, “a pretty solid position from which to start his 2013 run” for lieutenant governor.

    * Washington City Paper’s Alan Suderman notes that At-Large D.C. Councilmember raised more than $100,000 in the just-ended reporting period, “but only $120 (or .11 percent of the total) came from small donors (including $20 in cash from a ‘John Doe’).” Ward 2’s Jack Evans, running unopposed, also raised less than one percent of his total haul from small donors.

    In other D.C. Council money news, the Post reports embattled Ward 5 Councilmember Harry Thomas “reached an agreement Wednesday with the federal government to repay student loan debt dating back to the early 1980s.”   DCist writes that the new $16,000-plus agreement “comes only months after Thomas agreed to pay the District back over $300,000 that D.C. Attorney Irv Nathan claims he used for personal indulgences like a luxury SUV and fancy trips.”

    In addition, the Post reports the IRS has filed a $3,267.29 tax lien against Ward 8’s Marion Barry. The Washington Times says this comes less than two years after the IRS slammed Barry with a lien “citing more than $15,000 in unpaid taxes from 2005 to 2008.”