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Morning Read: Obama Maintains Large Lead in Virginia, Poll Shows

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Poll shows the state divided between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

     A new Washington Post poll shows President Obama leading Mitt Romney in Virginia 51-44 percent -- largely the same results as a then-hypothetical head-to-head matchup between the two candidates from a year ago.

    The poll also shows that Virginia voters are evenly divided on the White House’s major policies. 

    Obama has an advantage in the state because the voting base that won him the state in 2008 has remained largely intact: young voters, suburban Washingtonians, women and African Americans.

    But the conservative base has strengthened in Virginia since 2008, with the GOP winning the governor’s mansion, three more seats in the General Assembly, and control of the state Senate.

    The Associated Press has a piece on the rising profile of Virginia this election cycle, saying it has become the hottest new battleground state:

    “Shifting demographics have President Barack Obama fighting for another win in this Southern state four years after he became the first Democratic presidential nominee to carry Virginia in more than four decades. Republican rival Mitt Romney is banking on buyers' remorse as he works to prove that Obama's unlikely 2008 victory was a fluke.

    Six months before Election Day, both sides concede that Virginia is truly up for grabs. And the outcome here could have dramatic consequences -- for Romney especially.”

    * D.C. restaurant and bar owners are angry that the city rejected a proposal allowing bars to stay open later, but supported an increase in the alcohol tax.

    The Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington issued a statement criticizing the “the startling lack of support” for the District’s hospitality industry.  

    Via DCist:

    “Quite frankly, there are no other words for it," RAMW president Lynne Breaux said in the press release. "Our city’s hospitality businesses are startled, and they are angry."

    * Gov. Martin O’Malley may create a commission to advise the legislature about a possible gambling expansion, according to the Washington Post.

    The 11-member commission would present the governor and lawmakers with recommendations this summer. These proposals could be the basis for a second special legislation in July or August focusing on gambling issues.

    * The D.C. Council Health Committee voted unanimously Thursday to restore budget funding to the D.C. Healthcare Alliance, a locally funded insurance program that largely covers health care for illegal immigrants.

    According to the Washington Business Journal, Mayor Vincent Gray has proposed cutting all hospitalization from the program, saving the city $23 million for the city in 2013 but hurting revenue at several D.C. hospitals.

    The Health Committee cancelled Gray’s cuts and found savings elsewhere in city health programs.

    The final budget must still be approved by the full D.C. council and signed by Gray. Given the unanimous vote, WBJ says, it is expected to pass.

    * Washington City Paper asks if three little dots could have saved the National Park Services from the embarrassment it faced surrounding the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial statue debacle.

    If you remember, the MLK quote inscribed on the statue was condensed to save space, leading many to decry the quote as misrepresentative of MLK.

    Plans are underway to change the quote, but it could cost the city anywhere from $150,000 to $600,000. Read the argument of why ellipses could have prevented the controversy.

    * Georgetown Metropolitan argues that relocating Georgetown University’s hospital and medical school could help alleviate space constraints on main campus and, if the hospital is moved to Eastern parts of the city, could provide greater healthcare access to poorer parts of the community:

    “Besides the possibility that the move would enable more on campus dorms to be built, there is at least one other reason why some neighbors would be happy with the move. Without a hospital, there would probably be far fewer ambulance sirens blaring on by. Also on a broader note, opening a hospital in the eastern parts of the city would be great for the public health of poorer neighborhoods. And locating such a large employer in those neighborhoods would be an additional benefit. Finally, regardless of where they move it is likely that it would be metro accessible.”

    But, as Georgetown Metropolitan also points out, moving the medical campus may not be the best for Georgetown’s image:

    "But mark GM’s words: if the school moves the medical campus, it will go down into city lore that the move was done to satisfy petulant neighbors. Like the myth over rich Georgetowners keeping poor people out by stopping the creation of a Georgetown metro stop (not true!), this interpretation would perpetuate because it would reinforce how many think about the neighborhood and who lives here."