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Analysis: Gray's Popularity, Pepco's Grilling, And The Kickoff Of Virginia's Senate Race

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New polling out this week shows the popular tide has turned against D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray. The Washington Post reports a majority of District residents want the mayor to resign following felony guilty pleas from three former campaign aides amidst a campaign corruption investigation. Meanwhile, Pepco faces more scrutiny in Maryland, and U.S. Senate candidates prepare to face off in Virginia. Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney joined Morning Edition host Matt Bush to discuss these local stories.

How will Mayor Vincent Gray be able to move forward with the majority of residents calling for his resignation?

"I think it's very difficult for him to move forward. I don't think he can accomplish anything important or transformative or controversial until this scandal is put to rest one way or another. I mean, he can cut ribbons, he can go to community meetings, he can issue press releases, the government keeps functioning. To his credit, Gray is able to compartmentalize. He keeps his game face in public and doesn't appear to let the scandal bother him. It also helps that the D.C. Council is in recess for the summer until September, so there is relatively little business to conduct, but we have to be realistic — he is crippled."

The Montgomery County Council hosted a hearing about Pepco's response to the Derecho storm. Did Pepco's explanation satisfy the council?

"Absolutely not. The council members were very unsatisfied not only with what Pepco said, but also for the most part with what the state regulator said... Council members are mad about Pepco's disinvestment in the past and not putting enough money into reliability, not having enough resources to restore service quickly in the last derecho. I was struck by Pepco saying that while it can improve its reliability on a day-to-day basis, it basically could not have done better in the last derecho, given how big and unexpected the storm was. Rep. Chris Van Hollen's office did a report showing that across the river, Dominion Virginia Power was much faster at restoring service. Pepco says that there are a lot of differences — it's apples and oranges between Dominion and Pepco — but that didn't satisfy council members."

What will you be watching for as Democrat Tim Kaine and Republican George Allen face off in Virginia?

"This is the most prominent U.S. Senate race this year in the nation. It will not be Kaine and Allen's first debate, since they debated in December, but it's the first since Allen formally won the Republican nomination. He had to beat three more conservative candidates in the primary. This debate will set the tone for the race. How civil will it be — what will the themes be — how much will it be the economy versus social issues? It's also the first debate since the Supreme Court uphold President Obama's health care reform law, so that will likely figure prominently."

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