First Read Flash: Tight in Virginia

Updated
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli gestures during a press conference in Richmond on May 10, 2011.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli gestures during a press conference in Richmond on May 10, 2011.
File photo by Steve Helber/AP

Some up, some down. New polls in the hotly contested Virginia governor’s race may have different leaders, but both show a tight race ahead of this November’s showdown between Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe. A new Quinnipiac University poll shows McAuliffe with a slight 43%-39% lead over Cuccinelli, fueled in part by McAuliffe’s lead among women, 48%-32%, and among African-Americans, 73%-7%. Cuccinelli leads with men, 46%-38% and white voters, 48%-36%. Similar to a bipartisan survey last week, the Qunnipiac poll also found those surveyed supported allowing same-sex marriage in Virginia by a 50%-43% margin  just five years after a statewide ban passed 57%.

Roanoke College survey put Cuccinelli narrowly ahead, 37%-31%, but with 27% of respondents undecided. The survey also showed other statewide races close, but also with a high number of undecided voters. In the lieutenant governor’s race, Democrat Ralph Northam led controversial GOP nominee E.W. Jackson, 30%-28%, with 41% undecided. In the attorney general race, Republican Mark Obenshain led Democrat Mark Herring, 33%-29%, with 38% undecided.

Cuccinelli cleared. Meanwhile, Cuccinelli was cleared of any wrongdoing in his financial disclosures over gifts from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams, who is at the center of controversy surrounding gifts and his relationship with incumbent Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell. According to the Richmond Times-Dispatcha prosecutor’s report out today will show Cuccinelli broke no laws and “also found no evidence that Cuccinelli, who also initially failed to disclose his ownership of more than $10,000 in Star Scientific stock, ‘in any way, promoted supported or assisted Star Scientific while he had a financial interest in the company.’”

Big Apple battles. In a new Siena College/New York Times poll, City Council Speaker Christine Quinn leads former Rep. Anthony Weiner in the multi-candidate field, 27% to 18%. Former comptroller Bill Thompson and public advocate Bill de Blasio are both at 11%. Fifty-nine percent of those surveyed said Weiner, who resigned from Congress two years ago after sending suggestive photos to women over social media, deserves another chance after his past behavior, while 54% said the same thing about former Gov. Elliot Spitzer, who is running for city comptroller after resigning amid a prostitution scandal.

Symbolic Obamacare delay vote passes. “In a symbolic vote meant to highlight the Obama administration’s decision to delay the implementation of a key part of its health care law, the GOP-led House passed bills Wednesday to stall parts of ‘Obamacare’ despised by the GOP,” NBC News reports. “The House voted to delay the individual mandate – the part of the law that requires individuals to purchase health insurance or pay a fine – by 251-174. The vote comes after the Obama administration announced that employers will have an additional year to meet the law’s requirement that  larger businesses provide insurance for workers. The chamber also approved a bill to delay that so-called employer mandate, with House leaders arguing that Congress – not the administration - must OK such a move. That vote was 264-161 , with over 30 Democrats voting with almost all Republicans.”

The President will speak about the Affordable Care Act this morning at 11:25 a.m. in the East Room of the White House, as he continues to work to sell his plan to the public. This morning he’ll argue that implementation of health care reform is working, holding up as proof half a billion dollars in rebates the White House says insurance companies are sending to millions of consumers. The Washington Post has a longer look behind how the administration is working to sell the president’s signature health care achievement to the public.

First Read Flash: Tight in Virginia

Updated