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GOP gathers to OK primary

McLEAN | Virginia Republicans have voted overwhelmingly to hold a primary in 2012 to nominate their U.S. Senate candidate.

By a 48-26 vote, the state GOP’s policymaking central committee approved the primary over a convention.

By lopsided votes, the committee also rejected proposals to charge delegates attending statewide Republican conventions up to $50, and to charge candidates for nomination filing fees in the thousands of dollars.

Republicans have quarreled among themselves for years in Virginia over whether to hold primaries or conventions to pick nominees.

Since the mid-1990s, many in the GOP have pushed for conventions, claiming that Virginia’s open primaries and lack of party registration allows Democrats to meddle in their nominations.

SENATE

Michigan lawmaker to chair panel

Sen. Debbie Stabenow will become the next chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

Ms. Stabenow will replace Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, who lost her bid for re-election this year. As chairman, she will oversee drafting of the next five-year farm bill, which is expected by 2012.

The Michigan senator is the fifth-ranking Democrat on the committee, but the senators who outrank her are all chairmen of other committees. North Dakota Sen. Kent Conrad had said he was considering the agriculture post but announced Friday he will keep his position of chairman of the Senate Budget Committee.

Agriculture is Michigan’s second-largest industry, and the state leads the nation in production of cherries and blueberries.

POSTAL SERVICE

Contract talks for some workers

Negotiators for the U.S. Postal Service and the American Postal Workers Union agreed early Sunday to extend contract talks until noon Tuesday.

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