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D.C. prepares for hundreds of thousands of visitors for Monday's Presidential Inauguration, Maryland's Gov. Martin O'Malley makes a push to ban the death penalty, and fundraising heats up in Virginia's race for governor. Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney talks about some of the details of these stories.
On whether D.C. planning officials are ready for Inauguration Day: "Well, we ought to be. It's expected to be half as many people, or at less than half as many people as four years ago. And we handled the crowd almost perfectly last time. There was a particularly big contribution from the Metro system — most people rode the trains, and that kept the roads mostly clear. The same is expected again. Metro is going to open early and have rush hour service all day. Still, if you're going, you need to go early. The one big glitch last time was the so-called purple tunnel of doom, where hundreds of people with premium tickets got backed up waiting in the Third Street Tunnel and missed the swearing in. The crowd control wasn't effective and the security took too long, so they're fixing that this time."
On the White House putting the "Taxation Without Representation" license plate on the presidential limo: "It's mostly symbolic, but it's still very welcome for D.C. residents who don't have votes in Congress. I think the timing of this is very political. For four years the president would not use the license plate, or take a strong, assertive stand in favor of D.C. voting rights. And a big reason for that, by many accounts, is that he didn't want to appear too liberal, too urban, and frankly, too black. So now that he's been reelected, he can afford to take a step in that direction."
On Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley making a push to ban the death penalty: "This session in the early stages is dominated to a large extent by two issues — the push to appeal the death penalty, and of course also, he's launched a big initiative to strengthen gun control. He might win on the death penalty. He tried in 2009 and came up short. But apparently this time around, he's just one vote shy in the Senate, which is where it matters."
On Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe's bid for governor: "Democratic candidate McAuliffe proved he deserves his reputation as a prolific fundraiser. In just one month, he raised more money than his opponent, Republican Attorney General Ken Cucicnelli... They both raised a little bit more than a million dollars, but McAuliffe started in December, and Cucinelli, in this reporting period, has been doing it since July."