- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 1, 2005

A youth advocacy group graded Virginia’s delegates on issues related to higher education and young voters, using the traditional 4.0 scale in handing out grade-point averages.

Virginia21, which lobbies for higher-education funding, assessed each of the House of Delegates members’ votes during the 2004 and 2005 legislative sessions.

All 100 delegate seats are up for re-election in November.

“A lawmaker’s GPA is a young voter’s accountability measurement,” Virginia21 Executive Director Jesse Ferguson said. “Members with good grades made protecting higher education, increasing economic opportunity and creating an open government top priorities.”

Delegates were graded on their votes on 12 pieces of legislation, ranging from granting autonomy to the state’s colleges and universities to making campuses more secure and decreasing the cost of college textbooks.

A key vote included in the grading was the $1.38 billion tax-reform package that raised some taxes and cut others to help pay for education, public safety and health care.

The group’s legislative report card can be read on its Web site, www.virginia21.org.

• Madam Mayor?

D.C. Council Chairman Linda W. Cropp plans to decide by summer whether she will run for mayor.

In an appearance Friday on WTOP Radio, Mrs. Cropp said her husband does not want her to run. But she said he will support her decision and thinks she could win the mayoral race.

Many people link her name with the baseball debate that nearly cost the District the Washington Nationals. Her last-minute changes to the ballpark legislation were met with protests from baseball fans.

But Mrs. Cropp, at-large Democrat, said she simply was trying to get a better deal for the city. She has served on the council since 1990.

• Political hiring

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan is bringing in a campaign strategist from Louisiana to manage his expected run for governor.

Mr. Duncan has hired Scott Arceneaux, 34, who engineered victories by Democrats in two out of three recent statewide races. Mr. Arceneaux said he is planning an aggressive campaign to raise Mr. Duncan’s profile outside the county.

Mr. Duncan has been making the rounds at Democratic events and took in $500,000 two weeks ago at a fundraiser.

Mr. Duncan’s expected rival for the Democratic nomination, Baltimore Mayor Martin O’Malley, recently hired Jonathan Epstein to manage his campaign. Mr. Epstein helped orchestrate Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry’s victory in the Iowa Democratic presidential caucuses last year.

• In the running

Frederick, Md., Alderman Joe Baldi is running for mayor on the Republican ticket.

The three-term alderman aims to unseat Jennifer P. Dougherty, a Democrat, who would be seeking a second four-year term if she runs.

Mr. Baldi announced his candidacy last week, the first candidate to file nominating petitions for the Sept. 13 mayoral primary. The general election is Nov. 1.

On the Democratic side, former Mayor Ronald N. Young, who recently moved back to the city, is pursuing a legal challenge to a three-year residency requirement that bars him from running this year.

• It’s possible

President Bush’s former Environmental Protection Agency chief says Republicans such as Virginia state Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr. can run for a statewide office as an independent — as Mr. Potts is for governor — and still plausibly claim to be a Republican.

But former New Jersey Gov. Christie Todd Whitman also says the Republican Party can’t be blamed if it takes dramatic steps to preserve loyalty among party members. Mrs. Whitman met with reporters Thursday in advance of being the keynote speaker for the Virginia Conservation Network’s 35th anniversary dinner.

Like Mr. Potts, who is running against former Attorney General Jerry W. Kilgore, Mrs. Whitman has clashed with party conservatives during her career. She said some of the conservatives are more like social fundamentalists and go against conservative traditions by trying to give government more power — not less.

Christina Bellantoni contributed to this column, which is based in part on wire service reports.

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