DAYBREAK DAILY: Poll shows McAuliffe, Cuccinelli in dead heat

ABC7 TRAFFIC: Good Morning Washington has updates every 10 minutes beginning at 4:30 a.m.

ABC7 WEATHER: Partly cloudy with a slight chance of further snow and highs in the mid 20s.

TRENDING ON ABC7 FACEBOOK: Good morning D.C. area! Most of you are now waking up to a light dusting of snow outside. This morning's clouds will break for sunshine with highs to near 30° later, but a gusty wind will make for wind chills in the teens. Due to the morning snow, there are several school delays and closings. For the full list of closings and delays:

TIE GAME IN VIRGINIA: Waiting for separation, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli are in a virtual dead heat in the race for governor, with more than one-third of Virginia voters still undecided, according to a new poll. The Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University shows McAuliffe, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, with 31 percent, Cuccinelli, Virginia’s attorney general, with 30 percent and 33 percent undecided.”

GIRL POWER: Careful what you wish for, per the New York Times, “Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta is lifting the military’s ban on women in combat, which will open up hundreds of thousands of additional front-line jobs to them, senior defense officials said on Wednesday. The groundbreaking decision overturns a 1994 Pentagon rule that restricts women from artillery, armor, infantry and other such combat roles, even though in reality women have found themselves in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, where more than 20,000 have served.”

NOT RED, NOT BLUE. . .: Rather, green, per the Virginian-Pilot, “Virginia witnessed more construction of green buildings and new offices per capita last year than any other state in the nation, according to a study released Wednesday. The results surprised even the growing industry of environmental architects, engineers and contractors, who said they knew Virginia was making strides, just not this big.”

REDISTRICTING AMBUSH: The tale continues, per the Washington Post, “The fate of a surprise state Senate redistricting plan that has Democrats in an uproar and threatening to derail a transportation funding fix lies, for the moment, in the hands of one man: House Speaker William J. Howell. All 100 delegates technically have a say on the bill when it comes up for a vote on the House floor, perhaps as early as Thursday. Senate Republicans muscled the measure through without notice Monday.”

POLITICO PLAY: “National Democrats are taking steps to create a large-scale independent group aimed at turning traditionally conservative Texas into a prime electoral battleground, crafting a new initiative to identify and mobilize progressive voters in the rapidly-changing state, strategists familiar with the plans told POLITICO.”

REC WRECK: This is a long read but a good read, per City Paper, “Elections have consequences. For Keith Forney, the 2010 election had $703,083 worth of consequences, to be precise. Forney was the general contractor who built the Deanwood Recreation Center, a glitzy 63,000-square-foot behemoth that boasts a swimming pool, basketball gym, and library. The center, completed in midsummer 2010, was one of the crown jewels of Mayor Adrian Fenty’s public building blitz.”

HIGH TIMES: Or not, per the Los Angeles Times, “Border officials have made what is believed to be the largest marijuana seizure in history at an Arizona border crossing. Agents at the U.S.-Mexico border in Nogales confiscated seven tons of marijuana this month, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers reported Wednesday. The marijuana is worth as much as $12 million, authorities said.”

HELLO: Can we talk?, per the Baltimore Sun, “Sen. Ben Cardin met with Defense Secretary nominee Chuck Hagel on Wednesday in an effort to smooth concerns the Maryland Democrat has raised about the controversial appointment. Usually a reliable supporter of the Obama administration, Cardin issued a statement days after Hagel's nomination noting "concerns based on positions he has taken and statements he has made on a variety of topics." Cardin later reiterated those concerns on several national television networks.”

SPORTS, BRIEFLY: Wizards lose 92-88 at Utah.

HISTORY: In the making, per ARLnow, “The Green Valley Pharmacy (2415 Shirlington Road) property in Nauck is expected to earn a local designation as an Arlington Historic District. The measure was requested by long-time property owner Dr. Leonard Muse, and needs approval from the County Board at its meeting on Saturday (January 26).”

NEWSTALK: Among today’s guests (10 a.m., NewsChannel 8) is Sen. Donald McEachin (D-Henrico), who will be asked about the surprise -- and sharply criticized -- vote on redistricting in the Virginia Senate.

--Skip Wood

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