Morning Read: Social Issues Heat Up Kaine, Allen Senate Race

The controversial issues that put the national spotlight on Virginia have been a boon to Tim Kaine's Senate campaign these last few weeks.  He’s used the attention to hammer his Republican opponent's positions on social issues.

Kaine has attacked Allen for his support of the controversial personhood amendment - an amendment that would have defined personhood at conception, but was ultimately shelved until next year. He's also pushed Allen to publicly give his stance on the ultrasound bill that would have required women to get an invasive ultrasound prior to an abortion.

The Hill had an article about Senate Democrats attacking opponents over social issues nationwide and largely focused on this heated Virginia race.

Via The Hill: (Kaine on Allen's personhood view)

“The debate at the state level is a good indication of the kind of debate we’d have at the federal level if George Allen [wins],” Kaine said. “He’s decided to make it an important federal priority and I couldn’t disagree more."

An Allen spokeswoman responded and said that Kaine’s focus on social issues draws attention away from the real issues.

“It’s ironic that Tim Kaine professes to want to talk about jobs while he is on a conference call — that his own campaign organized — discussing issues moving through the General Assembly,” she told The Hill. “He and his allies seem intent on making this race about anything other than solutions to create jobs, addressing our country's energy issues including surging gas prices and reining in the wasteful excesses of Washington that have made trillion dollar deficits the norm."

The RTD Dispatch wrote:

"Kaine's repeated criticism of Allen and personhood suggest Allen is not the only one who is wasting his time on divisive issues."

Polls show that the two former governors are in a dead heat for the Senate seat.

The National Journal also had an article about the candidates in the Virginia Senate race.

The article focused on all the titles that the former governors hold and tried to pinpoint which title the candidates use this campaign:

"Kaine and Allen have both held multiple offices throughout their public careers and their electoral paths have crossed plenty of times. Kaine previously served as lieutenant governor, Richmond mayor and city council member; Allen was a congressman and state delegate

So it shouldn't be much of a surprise that at the candidates' lone debate in December, they slipped occasionally into a much more familiar "Tim" and "George" instead of just "chairman", "governor" or "senator."

* In a victory for Gov. Martin O'Malley and gay rights advocates across the country, the Maryland Senate voted to legalize same-sex marriages in the state.

The House already passed the bill and it will go into law as soon as O'Malley signs it, which he has already said he would do.

All children deserve the opportunity to live in a loving, caring, committed and stable home, protected equally under the law," O'Malley said. "The common thread running through our efforts together in Maryland is the thread of human dignity; the dignity of work, the dignity of faith, the dignity of family, the dignity of every individual.

Read more here.

* The Virginia Senate needed just one Democrat vote to pass the state’s two year, $85 billion budget.

But not one Democrat voted in favor of the budget, and it failed 20-17 in the evenly split, 40-member Senate. Three Democrats were not there.

Republicans tried to include Democrat amendments in the budget, but the Democrats are suspected of not voting on the bill so that they can broker a power sharing deal in exchange for budget votes to restructure committees and give the Democrats equal power within them.

Sen. A. Donald McEachin, D-Henrico, chairman of the Senate Democratic Caucus, according to the RTD, dismissed these allegations and said the budget contained cuts that the party disagreed with.

"You can't expect us to fund a budget that takes money out of public schools in the form of a tax credit and sends it to private schools, not when we're funding education on a per-pupil basis at levels lower than we did in 2007," he said.

The House has already its their version of the budget.

* The Washington Examiner reports that Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton of D.C. was surprised and happy that Republicans, including Governor McDonnell, support D.C. financial autonomy.

Norton introduced a bill that would give the District authority over its local taxpayer money. Right now, spending has to be approved by Congress.

Via the Examiner:

So it was a "shock," Norton tells me, when California Rep. Darrell Issa held a hearing last fall on D.C. budget autonomy. A conservative with a sharp tongue and no love for Obama, Issa came away in favor of D.C.'s rights and wrote legislation to free D.C. from Congress. His bill has been modified, still has a rider that prohibits D.C. from using local funds for abortions, but he's promised to work "until it becomes law."
McDonnell's letter, sent to Issa and Mayor Vince Gray.

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