The 2012 Virginia U.S. Senate race is officially under way.
The Washington Post reports Virginia Tea Party Patriots Federation leader Jamie Radtke has submitted papers to seek the Republican nomination. The self-described “Christian homeschool mom” has never held an elected office, but worked for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and for Gov. George Allen’s administration. She originally considered starting small by running for state senate, but decided on the statewide race after Virginia’s first state Tea Party convention drew an unexpectedly strong 2,800 people.
In a statement, Radtke said, “I am the mother of three young children, and my first priority is both to protect them today and protect their future. I truly worry about what the next five years holds for our children and the nation, given this climate of reckless and immoral spending. Someone must step into the gap so that our children and America are not crushed in the coming years under the weight of insurmountable debt and debilitating taxes.”
If elected, Radtke would be the first female senator from the Old Dominion. But David Skiles, writing at the conservative blog Common Sense, says that while Radtke “has proven an effective organizer,” she is “going to have to do a lot more if she intends to convince Republican primary voters she has what it takes to win in 2012. She has never been tested as a candidate, her fundraising ability is unknown and no one knows where she stands on the issues.”
The fact that the GOP will choose its nominee in a primary, and not at a party convention, could put Radtke at a disadvantage. Her old boss George Allen is widely expected to enter the race, and three others -- Del. Bob Marshall, attorney Bert Mizusawa, and Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart -- may get in the race. With four candidates splitting up the conservative and anti-Allen vote, the former senator and governor could emerge victorious.
Allen tells the Washington Times, “Folks are saying get back in the game…and the campaign that we would mount in the event that we mounted a campaign would be a good, grassroots insurgency. You learn a lot from losing. I don’t like losing, but you learn a lot.” But Stewart counters, “George Allen is part of the problem, not the solution.”
Elsewhere in the DMV:
* One City, Partying Together: About 4,000 free tickets for Vincent Gray’s Sunday inaugural ball have been claimed so far. The Post says the event at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center, which will include “a free concert that will feature, among other local artists, Chuck Brown, the godfather of the city’s homegrown go-go music, and R&B crooner Raheem DeVaughn,” is expected to have about 10,000 guests in all, about one-quarter of them city officials and Gray campaign workers and volunteers.
The 7 p.m. “One City, Celebrating Together” party comes at the end of a long day that starts with the 8 a.m. “One City, Praying Together” interfaith prayer service, and the actual 10 a.m. inauguration, dubbed “One City, Moving Forward Together.”
* In an interview with the Post’s Mike DeBonis, Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton said D.C. residents “better be ready to fight to keep gay marriage, medical marijuana, needle exchange and other hot-button legislative accomplishments of recent years” as Republicans take the helm in the U.S. House. Norton said, “The Republicans appear never to have accepted the Home Rule Act. It’s as if it never passed.” As far as House voting rights go, “protesters’ efforts will more likely be expended on keeping what the city already has, Norton said, rather than pushing for expanded rights.”
But in an interview with WAMU, Norton expressed some optimism: “"I want to preserve the momentum we have for voting rights because by 2012 I think we'll have a different Congress because we'll have a full-bodied election at that time.”
Or D.C. could take a suggestion floating around Twitter today: Get GOP support for statehood by promising to name the new state "Reagan.”
* DCist reports U.S. Census data show the District “is the national leader in the percentage of households that earn over $200,000 a year,” but also has “one of the lowest median incomes” of the nation’s wealthiest cities, pointing to a wide income divide.
* Jaime Fearer, writing at Greater Greater Washington, is skeptical that Ward 5 D.C. Councilmember Harry Thomas Jr. will “push for local business and good urban design” as chairman of the Committee on Economic Development. Fearer says Thomas’s “development record in Ward 5 is spotty, at best,” and that while one “might expect him to focus on revitalizing the city’s struggling commercial corridors,” instead, Thomas has been a “councilmember who has often championed more of the status quo.”
* The Georgetown Dish reports Ward 3 D.C. Councilmember Mary Cheh says she “is feeling much better and even went to the gym yesterday after suffering a severe break and dislocation of her arm and wrist due to a fall while running.” Cheh has undergone two surgeries since the accident.
* In her Washington Examiner column, Jonetta Rose Barras praises the D.C. Republican Committee, which despite its defeats in 2010, proved that “there can be no democracy unless all voices are raised, heard and included” by “advocating for greater citizen involvement and demanding elected officials maintain higher ethical standards.” Barras compares the small local GOP’s efforts against the monolithic Democrats to her own junior high fight against a school bully, writing that “victory has many faces.”
* Though the Maryland state senate will be more Democratic next year, Republican leader David Brinkley says that does not guarantee the chamber will pass same-sex marriage legislation. Brinkley tells the Gazette that “neither of the two new Democrats was appointed to the 11-member committee, which deals with constitutional amendments and equal rights. Any bill that deals with same-sex marriage would have to pass through it.”
* The Progressive Maryland Education Fund says Maryland should increase its taxes on gas, alcohol, and the rich, the Baltimore Sun reports.
* The Post reports the weekend storm-that-wasn’t still cost the District more than $500,000.
* CNN interviews Sen. Barbara Mikulski as she prepares to begin her fifth term.
* The Advoc8te of Congress Heights on the Rise critiques the Post’s “DCTweeps” Twitter poll.
* DCist has the great story of a D.C. police officer, Lt. Vincent Turner, who responded to a Christmas Eve home burglary incident by getting together a group of officers, getting some toys, and delivering them, “as Assistant Chief Diane Groomes put it, ‘via the sleigh outfitted with a siren.’” Turner, “who grew up in the neighborhood where the crime took place, even purchased some games with money out of his own pocket, repaired the window where the burglar broke in, and outfitted it with bars so that someone wouldn’t break in again.”
* The Loudoun Times has the headline of the day: “Man Posing as Hillary Clinton Robs Sterling Bank at Gunpoint.”
Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter at @PJOinDC