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Gov. McDonnell Faces Uncertain Political Future - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Gov. McDonnell Faces Uncertain Political Future

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Political analysts say, without a doubt, Governor Bob McDonnell's legacy in the state's top job will be defined by transportation.

Lawmakers passed an historic $3.5 billion funding plan for road, rail and transit last week. It is the first major overhaul of Virginia's transportation funding formula since 1986, and one that has leaders in McDonnell's own party are lashing out, frustrated with new taxes and revenues woven into the plan.

Political expert Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, says opposition from Republicans makes McDonnell's political future uncertain. That future, Sabato says, likely won't include a return to public office for the political veteran.

"Within the Republican party he broke his pledge not to raise taxes," Sabato said. "And there are many within the GOP who simply won't forgive that."

Almost every Republican lawmaker in Central Virginia opposed the plan. Ed Scott, who represents Madison, Greene and parts of Culpeper counties, voted for it.

"I know some people are just flat out opposed, I understand it," McDonnell said. "I understand that there are some revenue increases in this bill, I don't like doing it. But the option is we watch our competitiveness of our state go down, we watch our ability to create jobs and get people out of congestion go down, and we don't solve a problem that has been bugging us for 27 years."

McDonnell's support of the bipartisan compromise could help him appeal to moderate voters if he were to run again, but he would first have to receive his party's nomination. That's something Sabato says is unlikely to happen.

"It's going to be difficult for him even to be re-nominated for high office in Virginia,"  said Sabato."Looking nationally, I think a presidential campaign is probably out of the picture now."

That's a different future than many envisioned for McDonnell, after becoming one of the top names on the GOP's short list for vice president last year. But despite speculation, McDonnell says he still hasn't decided what is next.

"I'll decide sometime in the summer what I think the next step should be," McDonnell said. "I've got about 10 months left as governor, I'm not going to waste a minute of it."

McDonnell will use the next 30 days to review bills passed by the General Assembly. After that, he says he'll keep his focus on attracting business to the commonwealth. Economic development trips are planned to China, Japan and California in April.

Regardless of what the future holds for McDonnell, after 22 years in Virginia politics he says he feels incredibly grateful.

"There is no higher honor than being the governor of Virginia," McDonnell said, "I'm sort of an average kid from Fairfax county, I got the same job as Thomas Jefferson and Patrick Henry. It just doesn't get any better than that."

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