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Analysis: Virginia GOP Moves To Take Back Seats On The Hill

George Allen emerges as Republican front-runner for U.S. Senate, and lawmakers await SCOTUS health care ruling.

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David Hawkings, CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing

As Republicans in Virginia prepare to select a nominee for the U.S. Senate to run against the unopposed Democratic nominee Tim Kaine, a number of U.S. House and local races are on the ballots as well. Lawmakers are also waiting on the Supreme Court's ruling on the Affordable Care Act.

David Hawkings, editor of the CQ Roll Call Daily Briefing talks with WAMU Morning Edition host Matt McCleskey about the week's political headlines.

On George Allen, the Republican front runner in Virginia's U.S. Senate race: "It seems as though the Republican party in Virginia has decided very early on that it saw this as their marquee effort, their marquee role in the entire country, to take back the Senate for the Republicans," says Hawkings. "They concluded that Bob Marshall, the former leader of the house of delegates, nor the two more minor party challengers, really wouldn't have a chance against Tim Kaine and they decided that this was their best shot."

Examining Rep. Gerry Connolly's (D) vulnerability as Republican candidates prepare to challenge him: "He's less vulnerable this time than he was last time. The redrawing of Virginia congressional boundaries made his part in Northern Virginia a little more democratic friendly," Hawkings says. "He ... had a big scare two years ago. It was on the cusp of being one of the biggest upsets in 2010, but he survived."  

On Connolly's potential Republican challengers: "There's a tea party candidate, Ken Vaughn, and there is a sort of establishment candidate [Col. Chris Perkins] backed by Republican king-maker in Northern Virginia, Tom Davis. It seems too close to call, but neither really are seen as having a chance," Hawkings says.

Why the GOP thinks it has a better chance against Connolly in 2014: "Republicans are already licking their chops about two years from now, taking on Connolly, with the one of best nationally known new Republicans in the country," Hawkings says. "[He's] a former Democratic congressman named Artur Davis who's moving north from the deep south. He's an African American who was a conservative Democrat in the House who retired a couple years ago and has moved to Virginia to take on Connolly in two years."

Mood on the Hill among lawmakers as they wait for the SCOTUS ruling on the Affordable Care Act: "Yes, Congress is on tender hooks, but not for the highfalutin reasons of whether the court is going to tell them whether they overstepped their bounds or not,"  says Hawkings.  "They're more focused on the immediate, which is how this will play in the campaign. The Republicans say that if all or part of the law is struck down, they will renew their effort to repeal what's left. [The Democrats] and the administration are saying, 'We don't need to make any plans, because we're confident this law is constitutional.'"

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