Sherwood’s Notebook: The Campaign Across the River

The Washington Post

We spent Monday riding deep into Northern Virginia to take a look at the intense governor’s race now underway. Well, my NBC4 cameraman drove down I-95 as far as Prince William County, which is pretty far to me.

The Notebook was taken by a startling story in The Washington Post that prominent Republicans were openly critical of GOP nominee Ken Cuccinelli and his race for governor.

We caught up with Prince William County Executive Corey Stewart, a conservative Republican.

“I wish I could be more hopeful than I am right now, but right now it just does not look good for our party going into November.”

Admittedly, Stewart had wanted to be lieutenant governor, but the state GOP lurched further right with nominee E.W. Jackson. But Stewart is not engaging in sour grapes — he’s hearing the footsteps on the ground.

“Ken’s message is muddled. I think he needs to be singularly focused on the economy and jobs,” Stewart said.

Former seven-term Republican congressman Tom Davis of Fairfax is equally worried about his party losing in November. “The shutdown is certainly not helping Republicans in Northern Virginia right now,” he told us.

But Davis says it’s more than that. He said the Republican Party over the past 10 years has shifted right while the demographics of Virginia have changed. He said Northern Virginia voters — who make up a third of the state vote — “are more like New Jersey than the rest of Virginia.”

Davis said the party needs to build coalitions that appeal to the vast majority of moderate conservative Virginians. “Our comments are a warning shot” to Cuccinelli and the party, Davis said.

Cuccinelli’s campaign told The Post it wasn’t uncommon for such intraparty sniping. “It ain’t over yet,” the spokesperson said. “We won’t concede, and shame on those who do.”

■ Shutdown tales No. 1. My longtime friend Mark James is about as dyed-in-the-wool a Democrat as you can get. But from his home north of Atlanta, James is distressed by the polling plunge of Republicans and tea party advocates.

“I should be thrilled … but I’m not happy. The strength of this republic is based on a healthy, two-party system,” Mark wrote in an email this week. “Will Republicans of conscience have the courage to take back their party? If they don’t, their party will self-destruct and the nation will suffer.”

■ Shutdown tales No. 2. As national leaders lurch toward a solution, maybe they need a little deep breathing and yoga. They could learn a lot from the first-of-its-kind exhibit at the Smithsonian’s Sackler Gallery.

“Yoga: The Art of Transformation” will open just as the shutdown ends. See it when the Sackler can open its doors and the public is allowed. It’s an extraordinary exhibit of rare masterpieces and a review of 2,000 years of yoga history. Expect to be surprised.

■ Shutdown tales No. 3. Mayor Vincent Gray was having city crews pick up trash on National Park Service lands like Dupont Circle and Logan Circle. Sherri Kimble, who handles constituent services for Ward 2 Council member Jack Evans, says there’s a whole group of local residents and businesses who are also are pitching in to pick up trash.

“Thought you’d want to know what truly great citizens we have here,” she wrote us, “who care about their neighborhoods!”

■ New cab colors coming. We visited a cab dispatch garage last Friday to see some newly painted D.C. cabs coming out of the paint parlor. City rules require all new cabs to have the same two-tone color scheme. Any older, repainted cabs must do the same. Some are on the street now. In a couple of years, all 5,000 or more city cabs will look the same, just like New York.

Except here in the District, the colors are red and gray. But more specifically, the colors are “Geranium Red” and “Pantone Grey Warm #2” — the same ones used on the Circulator buses.

We’ll see if the new colors warm up some of the grumpier cabbies.

The city is going for a uniform feel so everyone will know what a taxi is in the District. Half of the city’s 20 million annual cab rides are taken by out-of-towners.

■ New fines … but? As of Oct. 1, some moving violations in the District wound up with different fine amounts. Speeding from 16 to 20 mph over the limit will rise from $100 to $150. But failure to come to a complete stop before turning on red will drop from $100 to $50.

But there’s a minor catch we’re still exploring. We received a detailed email from a resident who said he had searched the city’s driving manual and there is no requirement to come to a “full stop.” He said the only references he can find require a motorist to “slow down to a reasonable turning speed but do so gradually.” Again, we’re still checking this.

Tom Sherwood, a Southwest resident, is a political reporter for News 4.

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