DAYBREAK DAILY: Virginia gubernatorial contest enters uncharted waters

ABC7 TRAFFIC: Not much to report at this early hour but Good Morning Washington has updates every 10 minutes.

ABC7 WEATHER: Partly cloudy with highs in the low 50s.{ }

UNCHARTED TERRITORY: A strange matchup for the Old Dominion, per the Washington Post, “Virginia’s gubernatorial races traditionally have been genteel affairs, featuring polite candidates extolling centrist views. But Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling’s decision Wednesday not to seek the Republican nomination for governor sets up an uncharacteristically partisan contest in an increasingly independent state. Barring unforeseen opposition, Virginians will probably be left to decide next year between two outspoken candidates with national profiles: state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R), a conservative firebrand, and businessman Terry McAuliffe, who headed the national Democratic Party in the 1990s.”

MEANWHILE: Bollingper makes one thing clear, per the Richmond Times-Dispatch, “ “I have no intentions to endorse a candidate in the campaign for governor,” Bolling told the Richmond Times-Dispatch in an interview Wednesday. “I have serious reservations about his ability to effectively and responsibly lead the state,” he said of Cuccinelli. “And given those reservations, I could not in good conscience endorse his candidacy for governor.”

SCHOOL DAZE: Michelle Rhee still can’t catch a break, per City Paper, “Like most sequels, the current round of D.C. Public Schools closings is a lot less dramatic than the first wave presided over by former Schools Chancellor Michelle Rhee four years ago. . . The rage the District saw under Rhee is absent. Instead, several council members have made it a point to note how much better Kaya Henderson, Rhee’s one-time deputy and successor, is handling the process.”{ }

POWER LOTTERY: We need not worry about it, per the AP, “Powerball officials say ticket sold in Arizona and Missouri matched all six numbers to win the record the record $579.9 million jackpot. Now the hunt for the winners begins. Early Thursday morning officials confirmed that two winning tickets had been sold.”

SITUATION SYRIA: An opening is seen, per the New York Times, “The Obama administration, hoping that the conflict in Syria has reached a turning point, is considering deeper intervention to help push President Bashar al-Assad from power, according to government officials involved in the discussions. While no decisions have been made, the administration is considering several alternatives, including directly providing arms to some opposition fighters.”

SOCIAL LOBBYING: And the bully pulpit, per the Los Angeles Times, “Seeking to leverage the momentum of his reelection victory for a partisan budget battle, President Obama called on Americans to use social media to pressure Congress in his efforts to keep tax breaks for most Americans while raising taxes on the wealthiest 2%. The president's attempt to rally public support Wednesday via Twitter, Facebook and email marks a new strategy for the Obama White House — a dramatic shift from the grinding legislative battles and political maneuvers used to pass healthcare reform in 2010.”

POLITICO PLAY: “In just two quick meetings on Capitol Hill, Susan Rice may have blown up any goodwill she had with the very senators she’ll need for confirmation if she’s ever tapped as the next secretary of state. Over the past two days, four key Republican senators have emerged from private meetings to blast the United Nations ambassador’s explanation about what happened during and after the deadly attacks on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.”

SHOCKING: Who would have thought?, per the Washington Examiner, “Metro was "not sufficiently prepared" to prevent massive problems this year that caused a train to derail, stranded riders and prompted some to evacuate a train on their own, according to a federal safety audit released Wednesday.”

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STRANGE MOVE: Such transparency, per the Washington Times, “The Metropolitan Police Department is moving a liaison unit that works with the city’s Asian community from its longtime home in Chinatown, a quiet change that ignited fears the police chief plans to tinker with another specialized crew despite vows that little will change except where the officers store their gear.”

DISMAL SWAMP: About that fire, per the Virginian-Pilot, “Blame it on George Washington. The founding father was responsible for ditching and draining much of the Great Dismal Swamp, hoping to create vast new farmland. The venture didn't succeed, but the draining did - so much so that it effectively dried out the swamp, forever changing this immense ecosystem in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina.”

CLARITY?: Maybe. Or not. Or something, per the Wall Street Journal, “President Barack Obama signaled he wouldn't insist tax rates on upper-income Americans rise to Clinton-era peaks as part of a deficit-reduction deal, showing new flexibility as he tries to accelerate talks with congressional Republicans. The new clarity of the White House position marks a potentially important moment in Washington's effort to figure out how to handle tax rates that are due to snap higher next year, one of the thorniest elements of the so-called fiscal cliff.”

ALRIGHTY THEN: Just the facts, per ARLnow, “An unusual occurrence prompted a call to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington on Saturday. Passersby spotted a goat tied up on a median in Crystal City.”

SPORTS, BRIEFLY: Wizards beat Portland 84-82 for first win after 12 consecutive losses.

LANCE ARMSTRONG: Well, kind of, per WAMU, “District bicyclists who use the bike lanes in the center of Pennsylvania Avenue NW know how dangerous they've become. D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray announced emergency y rulemaking to prohibit drivers from making illegal U-turns at all times. The mayor clarified the existing rule that mid-block U-turns that cross over the bike lanes are illegal on Pennsylvania Avenue NW between the White House and the Capitol, even when cyclists are not there. The bike lanes have been in Pennsylvania Avenue's center median since 2010.”

NEWSTALK: Today’s guest (10 a.m., NewsChannel 8) is none other than controversial D.C. mayor Vince Gray.

--Skip Wood

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