Morning Read: Election Day In Virginia

The Virginia primary is today, and while the statewide GOP Senate primary will almost certainly go to George Allen, there’s more at stake than just a party nominee.

The Roanoke Times Editorial Board writes that a high turnout rate could be a sign to party leaders that the masses “want a say in nominations” and prefer a primary instead of a convention, which is currently being considered"

Regardless of who wins, Virginia Republicans have more at stake today than nominees.

Allen has said a strong turnout signals strong support heading into November. True, but a strong turnout also demonstrates that party members want a say in their nominees. This is important, because some party elites wish to strip from the masses their chance to participate in the selection process.

A dustup is taking place within the GOP over how to select its nominee next year for governor. A primary, as was promised, will help Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, the steadfast, party loyalist; a convention heavily attended by tea partiers will give an edge to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, an impatient, headline-grabbing upstart.

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Read NBC’s Julie Carey’s take on the race here.

* The Senate primary is the biggest race of the day, but there are other elections voters will decide today.

In Northern Virginia, Rep. James Moran faces a primary challenger, and two GOP candidates are competing to face Rep. Gerald Connolly (D) head-to-head in the general election.

Democrats in Alexandria will vote in the city's first Democratic primary in decades, choosing among 14 candidates for six city council spots in November's general election, according to the Examiner.

Polls across the state open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.

* D.C Councilman Phil Mendelson -- a low-key, quiet legislator -- is expected to replace former Council Chairman Kwame Brown on an interim basis. Vincent Orange is also vying for the seat.

Via Real Clear Politics:

Mendelson presents a contrast in style to Brown and Thomas, both known for their flashy clothes and dynamic personalities. A former council staffer, he prides himself on his attention to detail, describing himself as a "nitpicker."

He said Monday that he would seek to empower his colleagues, drawing a contrast with Brown's leadership style, which he said could be top-down and disorganized.

"There was an increasing lack of collaboration, and the chairman is in a position to bring members together and to work toward consensus," Mendelson said. "That was not happening."

* Scientists are trying to prepare for the threats posed by the rising sea levels on the Virginia coast, but many Republican politicians are refusing to include terms like “sea level rise” or “climate change” in legislative language.

Politicians have been quoted in local newspapers saying that these are “left-wing terms” that take away focus from what’s actually at stake: the Virginia homes that are being destroyed.

“To think that we are going to stop climate change is absolute hubris. The climate is going to change whether we’re here or not,” Republican Del. Chris Stolle told BBC.

Stolle and Democratic Sen. Ralph Northam sponsored a resolution that would spend $50,000 on a comprehensive study on the economic impact of coastal flooding, according to BBC.

But Stolle struck language from the original draft and changed the words “sea level rise” to “recurrent flooding.”

While this political fight against acknowledging global warming in Virginia has made headlines, some scientists say that if a change of language is what it takes to get the study done, then so be it.

Via Talking Points Memo:

"These studies need to be done if we’re going to logically tackle these problems that scientific data unequivocally proves are happening,” Larry Atkinson, an oceanographer at Old Dominion University, said. “So, whatever we have to call it, I’ve got no problem with that... What’s the alternative? Do nothing?”

* A task force charged with analyzing the possible expansion of gambling in Maryland is scheduled to receive projections Tuesday from the state's consultants on the potential impact of allowing a sixth casino and allowing table games in existing casinos, according to the Baltimore Sun.

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