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Morning Read: Santorum Tops Obama in Virginia Poll

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AM Read: Santorum Tops Obama in Va. Poll

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LAS VEGAS, NV - JANUARY 31: Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum leaves an election results party for the Florida primary at his Nevada campaign headquarters January 31, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Nevada GOP caucus will be held on February 4. According to early results former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney defeated Santorum, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich and U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) to win today's Florida primary. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

A new poll shows Rick Santorum beating President Obama in a hypothetical match up between the two 2012 hopefuls in Virginia.

Santorum has a 46 percent to 42 percent lead over Obama, while Mitt Romney has a 46 to 43 percent edge over Obama.

Obama, however, has a 45 to 40 percent lead over Newt Gingrich, according the survey conducted by the Richmond Times-Dispatch and Christopher Newport University.

Obama has already opened a number of campaign offices in Virginia and is hoping to once again claim victory in the key swing state.

The poll also shows that the highly-anticipated race for Virginia’s Senate seat between two former governors is in a dead heat.

Republican Gov. George Allen received 42 percent to Democrat Timothy Kaine’s 40 percent.

* In a close 72-67 vote, the Maryland House voted to pass legislation that would legalize same sex-marriages in the state.

"Wherever we happen to stand on the marriage equality issue, we can agree that all our children deserve the opportunity to live in a loving, caring, committed and stable home, protected equally under the law," Gov. Martin O'Malley said in a statement. “Clergy and faith-based leaders, community leaders, civic organizations, civil rights groups, and citizens from across our state have reached the same conclusion that Americans in seven other states have reached – it is possible to protect individual civil marriage rights and religious freedom equally."

The bill failed in the House last year, and it was unclear if it would pass this year.

The bill will now go to vote in the senate, where it is expected to pass.

If it passes, the bill will be on the ballot in November for voters to ultimately decide on.

The Baltimore Sun editorial board wrote:

But the course of the debate in the House of Delegates shows that advocates for marriage equality can prevail in Maryland. Those who changed their minds and voted to support the legislation offered a number of explanations on practical, legal and philosophical grounds. But perhaps the most moving was the one provided by Del. A. Wade Kach, a Republican from northern Baltimore County who voted against the measure in committee but announced a few days later that he had changed his mind.

He said he found himself moved by the experience of listening to the testimony of same-sex couples and their families, and of watching them as they pleaded their case before legislators during a committee hearing. What he observed was simple and unmistakable: love. He heard it in the witnesses' voices, and he saw it in their small, unconscious gestures of affection

* The D.C. council is expected to hear a bill this week that would address council members’ foul mouths by prohibiting members from using “profane, indecent or abusive behavior.”

The proposal comes days after council members Marion Barry (D-Ward 8) and David A. Catania (I-At Large) got into a heated argument filled with personal jabs and profanity.

Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown (D), who said that he’s had enough of disrespectful and crude behavior on the council, is advancing the proposal, according to The Post.

If someone violates the rule, the chairman could kick that person out from a meeting after a warning.

 *The Virginia House and Senate committees presented two different versions of Gov. McDonnell’s budget on “Budget Sunday.”

The proposals highlight the committees’ differences on spending on public education, transportation, health care and the funding of retirement plans of state employees.

The House Appropriations Committee voted unanimously to approve its plan to restore some of the governor's cuts to health care and divert additional sales tax revenue to fund transportation, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The Senate committee voted along party lines to approve the GOP proposal, which also makes restorations to public education and health, while supporting raises for state employees.

The two chambers will have to reconcile the proposals before the legislative sessions March 10 adjournment date.

*The Virginia General Assembly will propose a 2 percent raise in the second year of the proposed 2012-2014 budget for state employees, faculty and classified staff in higher education as well as local constitutional officers and their staffs, the RTD reports. 

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