Alex Bolton, senior staff writer with The Hill newspaper.
After weeks of negotiations, the U.S. Senate is expected to pass a farm bill this week that would stave off threats to funding for Chesapeake Bay cleanup. Meanwhile, a week after primaries in Virginia, advertising for a key senate race is ramping up in the Commonwealth. Alex Bolton, senior staff writer for The Hill newspaper, speaks with WAMU All Things Considered host Pat Brogan about these issues.
Some lawmakers were afraid the farm bill would cut funding for Chesapeake Bay cleanup. How has that been resolved?
"Sen. Ben Cardin says the problem has been resolved. He says there will now be more generous funding for critical conservation areas. He says he was able to get definitional changes that will help the watersheds like the Chesapeake Bay. He says he's received assurances from the administration that he's satisfied with that the Chesapeake Bay is doing at least as well going forward as it is under the current program," Bolton says. "He says there are additional assurances that federal funds will go towards partnership programs with farmers, so that farmers can continue efforts to conserve the watershed. So the concerns that Cardin had earlier have been resolved."
What are we seeing in terms of advertising in the race for the U.S. Senate in Virginia?
"What we're seeing is spending by outside conservative groups is dwarfing spending by outside liberal groups. Right now, pro-Republican groups have spent $2.7 million in Virginia to help Republican candidate George Allen, whereas pro-Democratic groups have spent only $849,000 to help candidate Tim Kaine," Bolton says.
What are the key messages we're seeing in these ads?
"Majority PAC, the Democratic Super PAC, aired an ad yesterday that goes after George Allen for his record in Congress. He bashes Allen for voting along with Republicans on some legislation that Majority PAC says would cut Medicare," Bolton says. "It highlights Tim Kaine's record as governor in Virginia. Particularly, his rating by Forbes Magazine at making Virginia the best business state."
How does this compare to other states?
"Virginia is becoming one of the biggest Senate battlegrounds," Bolton says. "So far, it's behind Ohio and Missouri, but it's coming up neck-and-neck behind Montana."