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WaPo's McCartney: Virginia's Senatorial Race, Paul Schurick Convicted, Occupy DC Escalation

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Bob McCartney, Washington Post columnist

Three former governors have dominated area headlines in the last week. Former governors Tim Kaine and George Allen faced off in the first debate of the 2012 senatorial race. At the same time, a jury convicted an aide to former Maryland governor Robert Ehrlich. Washington Post's Robert McCartney looks at these top stories.

The dominant themes between the two Virginia senatorial frontrunners

"I thought it was interesting in this first debate that both candidates agreed what the important issues were," says McCartney. "Both sides stressed the economy and especially government over-spending -- they both tried to accuse the other of being the bigger overspender."

They also agreed how close the race was going to be all the way to the end -- probably to be divided by just two percentage points.

How closely the Virginia Senatorial race will be tied to the Presidential race

Kaine is defending the President down the line, which Allen is happy about. It could be a risky strategy, because Obama's poll numbers have been below 50 percent recently.

Both sides say Virginia voters are so independent-minded and its going to be so close, that it's possible that the races will go in different directions. That Obama could win but Allen would win the Senate, or vice versa.

"Kaine polls better in Virginia than Obama does right now," notes McCartney. "Obviously, it's going to depend on who the Republican nominee is. If the Republican nominee is very conservative or controversial, conceivably Virginia could go for Obama but still elect Allen to the Senate."

The impact of the conviction of Paul Schurick

"I think it's a major embarrassment for Bob Ehrlich and is a permanent stain on his legacy."

This was not a minor official -- Paul Schurick was his campaign manager in the 2010 race and had been his communications director for the four years that he was governor.

Schurick was convicted on all four counts, including voter fraud and conspiracy. Ehrlich said in response that he respects the legal system, but vehemently disagreed with the decision and stands by his friend.

Escalation of Occupy DC protests

In the first seven or eight weeks of the Occupations, there had been maybe a dozen or two arrests total, and in the last week there have been more than 100 arrests.

The arrests were provoked largely by one group of people at the McPherson Square occupation. Many of them call themselves anarchists. They are not violent, but they are interested in committing civil disobedience. They wouldn't let the police dismantle a wooden structure, leading to more than 30 arrests. there were more than 60 arrests on Wednesday for blocking traffic on K Street.

"I think you need to make a distinction between the the McPherson Square group, who are younger and I think more radical than the ones occupying Freedom Plaza."

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