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Here are our most-read political stories of 2019

A Virginian governor refused to resign, the President got impeached, and there was a government shutdown or two. Welcome to DC, everybody.
Credit: Images: AP, Design: WUSA9

WASHINGTON — When you live in the nation's Capitol, being surrounded by politics and legislation is second nature. While D.C. does get a rep of being a town embroiled with probes and investigations, it's true that 2019 has been nothing short of eventful in the District.

January kicked off with the longest U.S. government shutdown in history, impacting hundreds of thousands, from furloughed government employees to local businesses. But the rest of 2019 seemed to follow suit in terms of action, with Virginia legislation changing parties, Russian interference with local elections and even a blackface scandal. 

From the personal testimonies of furloughed workers to D.C. considering statehood, here is a look back on the nine most-read political articles WUSA9 has reported this year.

1) Furloughed workers in tears as they line up for free sandwiches from celebrity chef Jose Andres

Volunteers from celebrity chef Jose Andres' World Central Kitchen fed thousands of people in need, not in some far off flood zone, but right here in Washington at a small store front at the Navy Memorial on Pennsylvania Avenue. 

Many of the furloughed federal workers and contractors said soup, a sandwich, and a power bowl can make a huge difference when there's no money coming in.

Royce Powers, furloughed from the Justice Department, broke down in tears as she contemplated another two weeks without a paycheck.

RELATED: Furloughed workers in tears as they line up for free sandwiches from celebrity chef Jose Andres

2) Virginia Attorney General says proposed gun laws will be enforced despite opposition

Virginia’s Attorney General gave his legal opinion on a growing movement among Virginia cities and counties to declare themselves second amendment sanctuaries, rather than abide by new gun control legislation.

AG Mark Herring said state laws can’t be ignored by local governments. 

"When the General Assembly passes new gun violence legislation, they will be followed, and they will be enforced," Herring said. 

The new gun safety proposals include universal background checks, re-instating a one gun per month law and a red flag law aimed at reducing the risk of someone in crisis hurting themselves or others.  

RELATED: Virginia Attorney General says proposed gun laws will be enforced despite opposition

3) We now know that Russia specifically targeted Virginia elections in 2016

Russian hackers with the Kremlin’s military intelligence unit targeted Virginia’s election infrastructure in 2016 – a cyber operation now confirmed by current and former state election officials.

The Russian effort searched for vulnerabilities within Virginia’s online election infrastructure, authorities familiar with the matter said. The specific Russian actions targeting Virginia have not been previously reported.

Analysts within the Department of Homeland Security eventually traced the suspicious activity to the GRU, the Russian military spy agency. 

RELATED: We now know that Russia specifically targeted Virginia elections in 2016

4)  Virginia Democrats win control in both state Senate and House of Delegates

 Democrats won majorities in both the state Senate and House of Delegates in Tuesday's elections. It marks the first time since 1993 that Democrats will control the General Assembly and the Governor's mansion. 

Democrats needed to flip two seats in the House of Delegates and one seat in the Senate for Virginia to become the only Southern state under Democratic control of the executive and legislative branches.

Pivotal races included Democratic Del. John Bell defeating Republican Geary Higgins in a Senate race in Loudoun, Prince William counties and Democratic challenger Dan Helmer defeated Republican incumbent Del. Tim Hugo in Fairfax, Prince William counties.  

RELATED: Virginia Democrats win control in both state Senate and House of Delegates

5) After Trump blasts McCain, takes credit for funeral, National Cathedral points out he had nothing to do with it

President Donald Trump blasted the late John McCain on Wednesday, going as far to claim credit for the senator’s funeral in Washington and complaining he was never thanked.

"I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted," Trump told reporters at a campaign-style rally in Lima, Ohio, according to the Associated Press. "I didn't get (a) thank you but that's OK."

The Washington National Cathedral, which hosted the late senator’s funeral service, issued a statement on Thursday in response disputing the president’s involvement.

“Washington National Cathedral was honored to host the funeral service for Senator John McCain. All funerals and memorial services at the Cathedral are organized by the family of the deceased; only a state funeral for a former president involves consultation with government officials,” representatives wrote in a release. “No funeral at the Cathedral requires the approval of the president or any other government official.”

RELATED: After Trump blasts McCain, takes credit for funeral, National Cathedral points out he had nothing to do with it

6) Did Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam wear blackface in yearbook photo? Investigators say they don't know

Investigators led by a former Virginia attorney general could not say for sure whether Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam is pictured in a now-infamous blackface photograph, releasing an inconclusive 36-page report Wednesday on the political bombshell.

The probe centered on a conservative website's post Feb 1 of a photograph with two men at a party, one in blackface and his companion in a Ku Klux Klan costume, from Northam’s 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook. The revelation thrust the Democratic governor into the national spotlight with many calling for his resignation.

But Northam maintained in two separate interviews with investigators from Richmond, Va., law firm McGuireWoods that he was not in either racially offensive costume. Richard Cullen, a lawyer at McGuireWoods and Virginia's attorney general in 1997 and 1998, led the inquiry. 

RELATED: Did Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam wear blackface in yearbook photo? Investigators say they don't know

7) DC statehood hearing held for the first time in 26 years

The U.S. House of Representatives held the first hearing on D.C. statehood in 26 years. It was the first step in the process to accomplish the passing of H.R. 51, or the Washington, D.C. Admission Act.

More than 700,000 D.C. residents pay federal taxes but don’t have equal representation in the national government. Here in the District, the majority of voters -- 86 percent, according to the D.C. Statehood office -- appear to support statehood. In 2016, D.C. residents passed a referendum supporting statehood.

The bill under consideration allows for people who live in the "new" smaller federal district to be allowed to vote for the president in the state they most recently lived in.

RELATED: DC statehood hearing held for the first time in 26 years

8)  Muslim state delegate asked how he plans to 'implement Sharia Law in Virginia' during town hall

Virginia Delegate Ibraheem Samirah said he was excited about his first town hall. 

"It was my first town hall ever," he said.

However, that excitement quickly turned to concern during the question and answer session.

"The first question that pops up; 'How do you plan to implement Sharia Law in Virginia?'" Samirah recalled.

Samirah said he felt targeted because he's Muslim.

RELATED: Muslim state delegate asked how he plans to 'implement Sharia Law in Virginia' during town hall

9) U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings has died at 68

Congressman Elijah Cummings died Oct. 17, according to an official from his office. Congressman Cummings passed away at Johns Hopkins hospital due to complications concerning longstanding health challenges.

He represented Maryland's 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1996. Before then he served 14 years in the Maryland House of Delegates. During his tenure, he made history as the first African American in Maryland to be named Speaker Pro Tem.  

Congressman Cummings used his platform to ensure that the next generation had access to healthcare and education, clean air and water, and a strong economy. He also worked on other initiatives such as waste reform, fraud and abuse, and made sure government programs met the needs of Americans and those he represented.

RELATED: U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings has died at 68

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