D.C., Maryland and Virginia Politics

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Mark Plotkin
WTOP Political Commentator
Wednesday, July 5, 2006; 2:00 PM

What is the latest local political news? Who will emerge as the leading candidate in the D.C. mayor's race? What Virginia and Maryland races are heating up? WTOP political commentator Mark Plotkin was online Tuesday, July 5, at 2 p.m. ET to discuss local politics and whatever else is on your mind.

Today Mark discusses the Maryland governor's race as it heats up, the Maryland sttorney general race as it finds another candidate, the D.C. board races and what's going on in the mayor's race. Plotkin joined WTOP after 10 years as a political analyst for WAMU radio. He has been active in D.C. and national politics since attending George Washington University in the late '60s.

Mark Plotkin: We are doing today rather than our usual Tuesday session because of the holiday. But next week please rejoin me at the regular time Tuesday at 2 p.m. I want to get into the Maryland U.S. Senate race and the poll, which ran on Sunday showing Mfume leading Cardin. Also, I will talk about the entry of Stuart Simms into the AG race. And finally, this is the day that petitions have to be in for the D.C. mayor's race. I will be glad to talk about that. _______________________

Washington, D.C.: Today's intro says you'll be talking about "D.C. board races." Does that mean D.C. City Council races or Board of Education races? As someone for whom education in this city is an important issue, is the school board still relevant enough that I should be following these races? And if so, are there any interesting people in any of them? Thank you.

Mark Plotkin: I think I gave a preview of the council races, but would in the future be glad to talk about the D.C. school board races. I do know that there will be great interest in the election for school board president. Peggy Cooper Cafirtz is not running again and Tommy Wells is running for the council opening up that seat. This is a non-partisan election, so the election will take place in November, so that gives us plenty of time to talk about the races and all the candidates.

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San Francisco, Calif.: Thanks for taking my question this afternoon, Mr. Plotkin, and a belated Happy Independence Day to you! What's this I hear about my former neighborhood, Tom Davis' relatively safe Congressional District, being at risk this year? Has Fairfax County gone blue? Will the Washington Post profile Davis' Democratic opponent for your national edition online readers? Thanks again ...

Mark Plotkin: Are you the same person who writes in every week? I'm flattered that I have such a national constituency. Davis is facing an energetic and resourceful opponent named Andy Hurst. He beat Davis's opponent last time in a Democratic primary. Davis got 60 percent two years ago. The District is changing but even Hurst concedes that Davis is very popular and tends to his district. I think there is some drop off because of the changing demographics, but it will be a major, major upset if the Dems pick up this seat. _______________________

Washington, D.C.: Webb vs. Allen Question: Do you think that retired and active duty military voters and their families will abandon the conservative George Allen and go with Jim Webb because of his strong military background?

Mark Plotkin: Well, the Jim Webb forces sure think this a distinct possibility. Allen never served in the military. While Webb is a decorated Vietnam war veteran, a Naval Academy graduate and a former secretary of the navy. Those military voters, who are in the majority Republicans didn't participate in the Democratic primary, but Webb thinks that by his biography and personal history, there's a bond with military people and veterans. They have distinct differences on the war in Iraq. And I'm sure these differences, Webb will highlight, as will Allen. Webb is a stronger candidate in the general election than he was in the primary because he feels his appeal will draw unusual voters to his camp. Unusual meaning, in my words, voters who normally can't bring themselves to vote for a Democrat. As I've said before this group includes white males, rural voters and small town voters that have some military background.

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Bethesda, Md.: How does The Washington Post's poll showing Mfume up and Josh Rales' new ads affect the Maryland Democratic primary? Thank you.

Mark Plotkin: I spoke to Josh Rales last week and he told me he has a very targeted approach to the T.V. ads. Obviously, he doesn't want to go to early with them, but he's got to get on the air because the great majority of Maryland Democrats don't know him, and they are not going to vote for him if they know nothing about him. I haven't seen an ad yet, I've been away. The Post poll suprises me, in some way with the figure that nearly half of Maryland's voters don't know who Cardin is, and that in PG and Montgomery County, 66 percent of the voters have no opinion of him. Rales does cut into Cardin and I am sure Cardin would prefer he would not be in the race. In fact, I know Cardin called Rales over a year ago and suggested he not run.

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Washington, D.C.: What do you make of the blatant favoritism that Post reporters E. Silverman and L. Montgomery show towards mayoral candidate Fenty?

Mark Plotkin: I think that's bogus. They are both fine reporter doing their job fairly and without an partiality to any candidate. I know Elissa much better than Lori, and she's a great reporter and this is the last thing that you could accuse her of. Lori, as well, never would want to be perceived as favoring any candidate, and I don't see in her reporting one bit of slant or favoritism. When you say "blatant" I don't know where you're getting that. _______________________

D.C. Mayors: Hi Mark, I read about the parade yesterday. I have to say, I've been somewhat of a Brown fan, waiting for him to get his 2nd wind. However, it seems it's not going to happen, so I've been placing my hope in Johns. Now I read that she drove? I mean, what is really up with that? I'm not saying that I won't vote for her now, but I would say that it seems she is pretty out-of-touch, which is a problem.

Mark Plotkin: I assume you are talking about the Palisades Parade. I wasn't there this year, but every candidate should know you walk, don't ride. That's the problem with Johns. She needs to be sometimes told or instructed in what should be a basic political instinct.

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washingtonpost.com: This concludes our discussion today.


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