Afternoon Read: Obama Eyes Virginia

In 2008, Barack Obama became the first Democrat since Lyndon Johnson to carry Virginia. Not even Southerners Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton managed to pull it off. 
But Obama will have a tough time repeating his comfortable six-point win in the swing state next year, and the Washington Post’s Anita Kumar reports his campaign is set to open “a pair of offices in vote-rich Fairfax County and Newport News” this weekend. The Obama campaign already has a Richmond headquarters and “more than a dozen staffers in every region of the state.”

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* Maryland Republican Party Chairman Alex Mooney said this morning that he plans to run for Congress in the state’s Sixth District. The Baltimore Sun says incumbent Republican Roscoe Bartlett “has said he will seek reelection but has so far not aggressively campaigned for the seat.”
But Mooney seems to be banking on a Bartlett retirement. Bartlett’s own chief of staff Bud Otis has been prepping for a run, a sign his boss might be leaving. The Frederick News-Post says Mooney said in a statement, “With the recent news about Congressman Roscoe Bartlett's longtime chief-of-staff preparing to run for Congress and the Democratic party's cynical and corrupt redistricting plan to oust Congressman Bartlett, I felt it was time for me also to start an exploratory committee for Congress.”
* The likely Senate nominees in Virginia, Republican George Allen and Democrat Tim Kaine, are making their case to the Virginia Chamber of Commerce today, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports. This morning, Allen told nearly 500 business people in Tysons Corner, “The government doesn’t create jobs, you do.” Kaine will address the group this afternoon. The two frontrunners will debate for the first time next week.
But while Allen is the favorite for the GOP nomination, he still faces rivals on the right, and the Post’s Kumar says Lynchburg-area Tea Party activists “will gather this Saturday to try to find a way to defeat” Allen. Candidates E.W. Jackson and Jamie Radtke are expected to attend the event.
* Not Larry Sabato is not very surprised by Virginia AG Ken Cuccinelli’s likely gubernatorial run: “As we've been saying for two years, Ken Cuccinelli would never defer to someone like Bill Bolling that he could beat by 30 points.”
Dan Roem of National Journal’s Hotline On Call says Cuccinelli “will be formidable,” and warns, “While some Democrats may be tempted to celebrate the news and proclaim that Cuccinelli is considered by some to be too far to the right to win, they do so at their own peril.  He proved an ideological conservative can win in heavily-Democratic Fairfax County” during his state senate runs, and “actually picked up over 17,000 more votes than GOP Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling did in his re-election run” in 2009.
Time’s Mark Halperin says Cuccinelli “is a true believer,” but he is “smart and aggressive, which is one of the reasons why Democrats consider him dangerous.  And despite staking out divisive positions on hot-button social issues, Cuccinelli registers reasonably well with moderates.”
* The Norfolk Virginian-Pilot says GOP state Sen. Mark Obenshain, who had been eyeing a run for Virginia lieutenant governor in 2013, confirmed this morning that he is now exploring a bid to succeed Cuccinelli as AG. State Del. Rob Bell is also likely to seek the GOP nomination.
* The Daily Caller says Maryland Republican Senate hopeful Dan Bongino, who used to be one of President Obama’s Secret Service agents, is criticizing the president’s early endorsement of Democratic incumbent Sen. Ben Cardin. Bongino said, “This early endorsement is an indicator of the pressure Sen. Cardin is under to defend a failed economic agenda.”
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