The 2012 Virginia U.S. Senate race is under way.
Prince William Chairman Corey Stewart, a Republican, told TBD’s Bruce DePuyt Monday that he is “seriously considering” running for the seat currently held by Democratic Sen. Jim Webb. “I would have a pretty good starting position, I think, especially given my leadership role on illegal immigration and cutting spending,” Stewart said.
Stewart also lobbed a few hits against George Allen, who lost the seat to Webb in 2006 and who seems likely to run again. The Hill reports Stewart “said he was certain Allen will enter the 2012 race, and admitted that the former senator is the clear frontrunner.” But “he labeled Allen’s single term in the Senate as ‘mediocre’ and warned that the former senator shouldn’t count on the Republican base to fall in line behind him.” Stewart said, “Senator Allen was a great governor. He really was. But his record in the Senate was mediocre. And I don’t think that most people in Virginia think of him as a good senator. They think of him as a great governor.”
The Manassas News & Messenger says Stewart “said if he runs, he would run on the Tea Party side of things.” State legislator Bob Marshall is also preparing for a GOP run. On the other side, the Washington Examiner notes that Webb “has not exactly committed to running for a second term in the Senate as of yet.” If Webb retires, former governor Tim Kaine and defeated Rep. Tom Perriello would be Democratic possibilities.
If Webb runs again, a GOP candidate might have a slight edge in what is likely to be a Republican year in Virginia. If Webb sits it out, the GOP nominee will start with a big advantage. But Republican blogger Brian Schoeneman writes at Common Sense that the GOP primary “is going to be bloody,” and warns that a “divisive, no-holds-barred primary is a bad idea and one that will negatively impact the party” and its chances of victory.
Elsewhere in the DMV:
* The Washington Post reports Mayor-Elect Vincent Gray’s transition team “announced that it will reveal Tuesday the first report of contributions to its operations and the inaugural.” Gray said individuals and groups will be limited to $5,000 donations to the transition and $50,000 for the inaugural. He had earlier announced a cap of $25,000.
* The Post reports “more than 160 residents, advocates and representatives of labor unions have signed up to testify” at today’s D.C. Council hearing on Mayor Adrian Fenty’s proposed $188 million in budget cuts. The Examiner’s Freeman Klopott says Gray “says he isn’t ready ‘to take a position’ on the budget cuts proposed by the mayor -- but he is willing to continue the council vs. mayor rhetoric that helped get him elected.” Gray said Monday that he had not fully examined Fenty’s budget yet, but said, “It looks like things the council put into the budget have been taken out.”
In an editorial, the Examiner says Fenty’s budget proposal contains both “good news and bad news.” It contains no tax increases for residents, as well as needed cuts to popular programs. But it also shifts the District’s debt burden “to future taxpayers for money that the D.C. government has already spent and ensuring that any future borrowing will be at higher interest rates.”
* David C., writing at Greater Greater Washington, says the District “should consider getting rid of the bottom tier of the sales tax and replacing it with a higher income tax.” He says that would “stimulate business, help the working poor by removing a regressive tax, and retain more money within the District by taking advantage of federal deduction rules.”
* WTOP reports Ward 2 Councilmember Jack Evans wants to bring the Redskins back to D.C. Evans says FedEx Field “is steadily aging and will soon be ready for a replacement.” Evans says RFK Stadium would be “a prime location for a new, state-of-the-art facility -- and not just to host the gridiron.” Evans said, “You build a 110,000-seat stadium with a retractable roof, and you get the World Cup. And the Olympics would also be something we could compete for.”
* The Washington Times reports the D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation “failed to conduct background checks on its employees, including workers previously convicted of drug and other felony offenses,” according to an audit by the federal Department of Health and Human Services. Those who failed to meet basic requirements “include six DPR drivers who should have been disqualified from working with children because of past offenses such as kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon, and possession of marijuana and cocaine with intent to distribute,” HHS said.
* The same-sex marriage of a Texas couple by a D.C. official over Skype is not valid, DCist reports. In a letter to the officiant, the D.C. Marriage Bureau wrote, “The return is invalid because it has come to the attention of the court that the subject contracting parties to the marriage and you, the officiant, did not all personally participate in a marriage ceremony performed within the jurisdictional and territorial limits of the District of Columbia.” Washington City Paper reports the couple “will try to fly back to D.C. this weekend to be legally married.”
* The Times says Gray “succeeded last week in getting an amendment passed that would grant charter schools the ‘right of first refusal’ to public school facilities,” but with “a catch.” Current law “gives public charters the first right to lease or purchase closed school buildings,” but both the current law and Gray’s measure “stipulate that the right applies only after the facilities are no longer needed by the D.C. government.” Charter school advocates “want the right of first refusal to kick in when the school closes,” and not “when the D.C. government decides it doesn’t want to use the buildings for any purpose -- educational or otherwise.”
* D.C. Interim Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson spoke with WAMU’s Kavitha Cardoza about her first month on the job.
* WTOP reports local governments “are bracing for what some say will be a dramatic increase in costs stemming from the federal health care bill.” Prince William County “estimates changes in the law will cost county taxpayers an estimated $15 million during the next three years,” while Fairfax County’s “largest school district is conducting an audit of its health insurance program” in hopes of reducing fraud.
* The Post’s Mike DeBonis reports Prince George’s County Councilmember Marilynn Bland is facing charges of assaulting a council employee. W. Randy Short said in a court filing that Bland grabbed and pushed him while “screaming, yelling, [and] cursing” after he started a meeting without her.
* We Love D.C. asks if it’s time to start “freaking the heck out” about winter.
* WTOP says the first segment of the InterCounty Connector “could be just weeks away from opening in Maryland.” I’ll believe it when I’m stuck in traffic on it.
Follow P.J. Orvetti on Twitter @PJOinDC