DAYBREAK DAILY: Obenshain lawyer raises nuclear option in Va. AG race

ABC7 WEATHER: Snow, mostly light, with highs in the mid 30s.

CLOSINGS: The list --

‘GOOD MORNING WASHINGTON’: Among the reports – Continuing comprehensive coverage of the icy weather and its after effects; Nelson Mandela memorial service; much more, beginning at 4:30 a.m. M-F.

VIRGINIA AG RACE: Of ominous words, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “The lawyer representing Republican Mark D. Obenshain in the pending statewide recount in the attorney general race on Monday for the first time openly raised the issue of contesting the election in the General Assembly if the tally does not sway the result in the Republican’s favor. During a hearing in Richmond, William H. Hurd, head of Obenshain’s legal team, told the three judges who will oversee the recount that it is “critically important” for his team to get full access to data from electronic poll books because Dec. 23 marks the deadline to challenge the election results.

“. . . Hurd also expressed concerns with the “integrity” of the electoral process in Fairfax County after reports that “election materials, including counted and unused ballots,” remained unprotected by the legally mandated security measures for nearly a month after the election. Hurd asked the court to set aside these ballots – possibly thousands – to not be tallied in the recount until election officials in Fairfax provide an explanation. “We need to find out what happened,” Hurd said after the hearing.”

O’MALLEYCARE: Governor pledges fixes, per the Baltimore Sun, “Even as state officials are racing to meet a self-imposed deadline to fix major glitches with the state's online insurance marketplace, some consumers continued to have problems buying health coverage through the exchange. Gov. Martin O'Malley pledged to correct the problems by mid-December, and two new state officials have been tapped to lead the exchange after weeks of technical problems and the resignation of its executive director.

“. . . State officials have stepped up their oversight of the exchange, created under the federal Affordable Care Act, in recent days. The exchange has been plagued for months by infighting among contractors and management problems in addition to the technical issues, according to emails and documents obtained by The Baltimore Sun.”

TOUGH AUDIENCE: Sign of things to come?, per the Washington Post, “D.C. Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) chose a debate on education Monday night to make his campaign debut alongside council members, a restaurant owner, a former State Department official and others trying to keep him from a second term. He could have picked an easier place to start.

“Before a packed auditorium at Eastern High School of teachers, union leaders and activists — many of them upset with Gray’s current schools chancellor, Kaya Henderson — Gray was welcomed with a question that immediately put him on the defensive. “What is your criteria for selecting a chancellor?” asked President Elizabeth Davis of the Washington Teachers’ Union, which sponsored the forum. “Our chancellor is a person who understands the importance of working with teachers,” Gray began, eliciting a smattering of boos and groans.”

NELSON MANDELA: POTUS, and then some, per the New York Times, “President Obama, his predecessor, and the woman who might be his successor crossed the Atlantic together Monday in an example of extended bipartisan togetherness to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela at a memorial service Tuesday.

“For more than 16 hours, Mr. Obama hosted former President George W. Bush and former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton aboard Air Force One — part of a global pilgrimage that is expected to bring as many as 100 world leaders to South Africa. The flight of political opposites was a midair testimonial to the profound impact that Mr. Mandela had on generations of American politicians as he fought against his government’s system of racial oppression and later brought unity and reconciliation to a divided people as their president.”

MEANWHILE: The scene, per the Mail & Guardian, “Like a flashback to the Soccer World Cup in 2010, the FNB Stadium in Soweto erupted into song, dance and the sound of vuvuzelas on Tuesday morning in honour of former president Nelson Mandela. Festivities were already under way at 6.30 as hundreds of people filed into the stadium for the memorial service of the former statesman.

“Thousands more were expected to arrive during the course of the morning, in spite of the wet weather, and more than a hundred foreign heads of state and dignitaries would attend the memorial. Hundreds of police officers encircled the building and all security personnel were on high alert. More than 1 500 members of the media had arrived by 6am. By 7am, crowds began to sing struggle songs inside the stadium while military helicopters circled overhead. A new group of attendees erupted into song with every minute that passed and South African flags, Madiba memorabilia and umbrellas peppered the seating blocks.”

AND THIS: Of being leery, per The Herald, “INFORMATION, Media and Broadcasting Services Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo has dismissed frivolous attempts by the Western media to compare African leaders with the former South African president Nelson Mandela who died last Thursday.Following the death of president Mandela, Western newspapers are making unremitting averments to the effect that African leaders should seek to emulate his legacy.

“Prof Moyo said while president Mandela was a revered African leader with a rich history, God created one Mandela who does not warrant to have a clone. “It is kind of disappointing that Nelson Mandela’s passing on has attracted gratuitous comparisons between him and other African leaders including our own President Mugabe whose iconic standing as a liberator and empowerer is now an indelible imprint of history,” he said.”

THE BUDGET: Rather, a bandage, per The Hill, “Congressional leaders are preparing to unveil a last-minute budget deal that could be quickly jammed through the House. It looks like a deal could be unveiled as late as Wednesday, just two days before the House is scheduled to recess for the rest of the year.

“Wednesday is the last day a bill can be filed in the House to allow a Friday vote without going around House rules. Releasing the bill that late in the week could be the best way to cut off a rebellion from the right, and conservatives on Monday were already expressing wariness.”

POLITICO PLAY: "Congress approved an extension of a 25-year-old gun safety law on Monday, hours before it was slated to expire at midnight. The Senate adopted a House-passed 10-year extension of the Undetectable Firearms Act (UFA), sending the law to President Barack Obama’s desk. The legislation is the most prominent gun-related bill to clear Congress this year, as efforts to expand background checks failed in the Senate this spring."

PRIMARY PARTY: Or something like that, per City Paper, “The Board of Elections started accepting nominating signatures to get on primary ballots, inspiring three candidates for mayor to turn in what amounts to a combined 13,000 signatures. Vincent Orange turned in what he says are 3,000 signatures, while Busboys & Poets owner Andy Shallal turned in 2,000. Muriel Bowser handed over 8,000 signatures, meaning she could afford to have 75 percent of her signatures disqualified and still make the primary ballot.”

THE CAVALIER: Everyone pays, per the Virginian-Pilot, “Hotelier Bruce Thompson is applying for a state financing program to help pay for his planned renovation of the historic Cavalier hotel at Virginia Beach. The Tourism Development Financing Program allows developers to retain 1 percent from both state and local tax revenue generated by the project to provide financing for up to 20 percent of the development's cost, according to city documents. It also requires a 1 percent contribution from the developer.

"Thompson plans to turn the 86-year-old Cavalier into a "five star hotel of approximately 90 to 100 rooms," according to the application for his development group Cavalier Associates LLC. On the Oceanfront side will be a "completely new 300 room first-class hotel" with accompanying beach club. The part of the project involving the two hotels would cost $145 million, the applications said. Cavalier Associates has equity of $53 million for the project, and interested lenders would finance $75 million. The group hopes the state can help with the remaining $18 million.”

WAR ON COAL?: It’s complicated, per Gazette.Net, “The owner of a coal-fired power plant in Dickerson plans to stop using coal to generate electricity at two of its Maryland plants. NRG Energy, owner of the Dickerson Generating Station in Montgomery County and the Chalk Point Generating Station in Prince George’s County, said it plans to “deactivate” the coal-fired units at both plants by June 2017.

“Both plants produce electricity using a mix of coal, oil and natural gas. NRG sent notice of its plans to regional grid operator PJM Interconnector on Dec. 2, ahead of a capacity auction scheduled for May, PJM spokesman Ray Dotter said. Each year PJM auctions the rates it will pay generators for being available if and when called on to produce power.”

SAVING HISTORY: For the vets, per the Frederick News-Post, “The Maryland Historical Trust has removed an easement that would have prevented Middletown from buying Memorial Hall, a two-story, 7,200-square-foot brick and masonry building constructed in 1923 as a memorial to veterans of World War I.

“Earlier this year, Middletown received a $75,000 matching grant from the Maryland Heritage Area Authority — Heart of the Civil War to buy the hall. The building is for sale but is deteriorated and needs substantial rehabilitation. Requiring the town to comply with three easements on the property would have been cost prohibitive and a deal-breaker, Burgess John D. Miller said.”

VOICE SILENCED: Just the facts, per ARLnow, “Robert Atkins, a longtime Arlington civic activist, died in his home Monday morning. He was 68. Until this year, Atkins attended every Arlington County Board meeting since March of 1995, according to County Clerk Hope Halleck. The only meeting anyone can recall him missing is when he underwent recent surgery to have his foot amputated, Halleck said.

“Atkins was the treasurer of the Arlington County Republican Committee for years, the president of the Bluemont Civic Association from 1993-1996 — when the neighborhood and the association were known as Stonewall Jackson — and was one of Bluemont’s delegates to the Arlington County Civic Federation when he died.”

SPORTS, BRIEFLY: Wizards lose 75-74 against Denver.

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--Skip Wood