DAYBREAK DAILY: McDonnell doubts Va. AG race will go nuclear

ABC7 WEATHER: Partly sunny with highs in the low 30s. { }

‘GOOD MORNING WASHINGTON’: Among the reports – Mandela to be remembered at National Cathedral ; much more, beginning at 4:30 a.m. M-F.

MOSTLY MUM: But also skeptical, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “Gov. Bob McDonnell on Tuesday called speculation about a General Assembly contest in the attorney general’s race before the conclusion of the pending recount “premature,” adding that he has yet to see evidence that would call for resolving the race in the legislature. “To get to that level where you essentially have the legislature make a decision as to who the winner is, there would have to be evidence that the credibility of the election was called into question in some way that created a lack of confidence among the citizens,” McDonnell said in an interview with Norfolk radio station WNIS. “I think we are a long way away from that.”

“Republican Mark D. Obenshain initiated the recount in what is considered the closest race in modern Virginia history after a final statewide tally had him trailing Democrat Mark R. Herring by just 165 votes — a margin of 0.0075 percent of 2.2 million votes cast. Obenshain has not said whether he is considering contesting the election in the General Assembly if the recount does not sway the result in his favor, but his legal team has dropped several hints. And on Monday, Obenshain’s attorney William H. Hurd for the first time openly raised this issue before the recount court in Richmond.”

O’MALLEYCARE: Or Browncare?, per the Baltimore Sun, “Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown cast uncertainty Tuesday on the administration's ability to meet a deadline for repairs of the state's online insurance marketplace, which has had one of the country's most troubled rollouts under Obamacare. Asked about the deadline imposed by Gov. Martin O'Malley to make nine major technical fixes to the site by mid-December, Brown said: "When we have a clearer sense, we'll let you know. . .This is Dec. 10, and the governor said mid-month, so we're continuing to look at it and evaluate it.”

“Charged by O'Malley with implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act, Brown made his comments at the first in a series of briefings in which he has pledged to update Marylanders on efforts to fix glitches that have plagued the Maryland Health Connection since the website launched Oct. 1. Brown was asked repeatedly about deadlines. "We will report back," he said. "I know there's been, and rightfully so, a desire for more information."

MONEY MAYOR: Or not, per City Paper, “Vince Gray is the first mayoral candidate to file his campaign finance report, but his initial numbers won't exactly leave his opponents quaking. With his campaign only eight days old and campaign manager Chuck Thies trying to set up its accounting system, the mayor has raised a grand total of $0. Curiously, though, Gray's campaign also reported $0 in expenses.

“How can a campaign with a website and an account with organizing website Nationbuilder manage not to cost anything? As it turns out, Gray's campaign owes its low initial overhead to the help of sympathetic web designers and campaign finance rules that allow campaigns to compile their expense report five days before the Dec. 10 deadline.”

BORROWED TIME: And some Wahoos aren’t happy, per the Virginian-Pilot, “They gathered, nearly 60 strong, at the University of Virginia’s landmark Rotunda last month. While the university’s Board of Visitors deliberated within, students stood silently outside, many dressed in black. Some had sealed their mouths with duct tape inscribed with a message: “Access denied.”

“They weren’t complaining about accessibility to the board meeting, which they later entered. They were protesting the board’s decision over the summer to trim back the expansive Access¬UVa financial-aid program. For nearly a decade, the university’s neediest students, who make up about 9 percent of U.Va. undergraduates, received enough funding so they could graduate without debt. Future students, however, will be required to take out loans, which they’ll have to repay.”

MEANWHILE: Of a different approach, per the Washington Post, “Supporters have billed it as the most important piece of legislation to emerge this year from the D.C. Council — bigger than raising the minimum wage to $11.50 and decriminalizing marijuana, and far more significant than voting to rename the Redskins. A bill expected to clear its first hurdle Wednesday — and that a supermajority of council members have signed on to support — would provide a vast swath of the city’s poorest students with as much as $60,000 each to attend college.

“In a city that spends more than $18,000 in tax dollars per student annually but only graduates six in 10 from high school on time, it’s the next big idea to fix the District’s broken education system, argues council member David A. Catania (I-At Large). “This is about leveraging the considerable investment we have made in pre-K through 12th grade,” said Catania, chairman of the council’s education committee and the measure’s principal author. “This is about investing in homegrown human capital, not the least of which, at this point, is the notion that if you are from here, this city will make a promise to you to help you achieve your educational goals.”

BUDGET DEAL: Baby steps, per the New York Times, “House and Senate budget negotiators reached agreement Tuesday on a budget deal that would raise military and domestic spending over the next two years, shifting the pain of across-the-board cuts to other programs over the coming decade and raising fees on airline tickets to pay for airport security.

“The deal, while modest in scope, amounts to a cease-fire in the budget wars that have debilitated Washington since 2011 and gives lawmakers breathing room to try to address the real drivers of federal spending — health care and entitlement programs like Medicare and Social Security — and to reshape the tax code.”

ON THE UPSWING: POTUS, that is -- and it's relative, per The Hill, “Approval of ObamaCare in the United States has risen eight percentage points in the last month, according to a new poll. Thirty-nine percent of people now approve of the law, according to a CBS News/New York Times poll released Tuesday evening. Half of the public, by contrast, disapproves of ObamaCare, the poll found.

“Nearly 60 percent say they don’t think the sign-up process for ObamaCare is going well, but more than one-third say it’s improving. These figures come in just ten days after the administration touted the repaired federal portal for the insurance, Obama’s general job approval rating has increased to 42 percent, up five percentage points from the all-time low a similar poll measured last month.”

POLITICO PLAY: “GOP senators have aggressively tried to keep their conservative base at bay to ensure there’s virtually no space on their right for a primary foe to emerge. That didn’t work so well.

“Republican primary challengers are lining up to take on sitting senators next year in eight of the 12 races involving sitting GOP senators, gunning for party leaders like Mitch McConnell in Kentucky, veterans like Thad Cochran in Mississippi and Pat Roberts in Kansas and deal-makers like Lindsey Graham in South Carolina. Texas Sen. John Cornyn became the latest target this week, when a fiercely conservative congressman, Steve Stockman, suddenly announced plans to challenge the Senate’s second-ranking Republican in next March’s primary.”

MUSICAL CHAIRS: One seat for three, per the Frederick News-Post, “A former chief administrative officer, a retired U.S. Park Police officer and a manager for AT&T will vie for the open town commissioner seat in Thurmont on Jan. 7.

“The three candidates were nominated Tuesday night by other Thurmont residents. The winner will fill out two years remaining on the four-year term of John Kinnaird, who won election as mayor. Bill Blakeslee, 67; Wes Hamrick, 51, and Randy Cubbedge, 57, will seek the town commissioner seat.”

SANDY HOOK: And Maryland, per Gazette.Net, “One year after 20 students and six adults lost their lives in the mass murder at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Maryland operates under a new gun law aimed at stemming the tide of gun violence within its borders. “We experience a Newtown every day in the U.S.,” state Sen. Brian E. Frosh said. “There are 25 to 30 killings by firearms every single day, it’s just not all in one place.”

“Gun violence is a serious public health issue, said Frosh (D-Dist. 16) of Chevy Chase, a 2014 Democratic candidate for attorney general, and Senate leader on the gun law that passed in 2013. But he said it took the deadly shootings of schoolchildren last December to galvanize the public and lawmakers behind the Firearms Safety Act of 2013.” { }

LOOKING AHEAD: That’s the plan, per the Loudoun Times-Mirror, “The Loudoun County School Board finalized the new attendance boundaries for the South Riding area Dec. 10 by an 8-0-vote, ending a relatively quiet rezoning process. The School Board adopted Plan 2, the only plan under final consideration. Jennifer Bergel (Catoctin) absent for the vote.

“With the least amount of turmoil to the children in the Dulles South district and the parents and if the projections for population growth are as predicted we could maintain these same schools for five years, I think it is a very solid plan,” Jeff Morse (Dulles) said. Morse, along with School Board Chairman Eric Hornberger, developed the plan together.”

SPORTS, BRIEFLY: Caps beat Tampa 6-5.

OPINION: Of the Redskins soap, per the Post’s Sally Jenkins, “Weeks ago, an observer with connections in the Washington Redskins’ locker room described the heart murmur plaguing the club in the following way: “Ask yourself this: If Mike Shanahan wants to bench Robert Griffin III, can he?” The fact that there was even a doubt suggested the illness. Shanahan is now calling the question publicly, and he’s right to do so, because if he can’t bench Griffin, then he’s not really the head coach, and in fact no one will ever be Griffin’s coach, they’ll just be his concierges.”

TRENDING ON ABC7 FACEBOOK: “A 6-year-old boy from Colorado has been suspended from school for kissing another young girl on the hand. Because of that, he now has "sexual harassment" on his permanent record. His mother is outraged and vowing to take a stand against school officials.”

NEWSTALK: Among today’s guests (10 a.m., NewsChannel 8) is D.C. Councilman and mayoral hopeful Tommy Wells, who will be asked about gaps in the city's fire truck inspection program and his vow to spend one week living on what a worker earning minimum wage makes.

--Skip Wood