VA Governor Elected in 2013 to Face Major Challenges - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

VA Governor Elected in 2013 to Face Major Challenges

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left: Ken Cuccinelli; right: Terry McAuliffe left: Ken Cuccinelli; right: Terry McAuliffe

When the dust settles after Election Day, Virginia's next governor is going to face some huge obstacles. From the very start, he will have to navigate treacherous political waters and work with lawmakers to pass a two-year budget. And that's just the first three months.

This continues to be a nasty and difficult campaign, whatever side you're on. But after November 5, things will really amp up for Virginia's next governor - and whether that's Terry McAuliffe or Ken Cuccinelli, it won't be easy.

"The learning curve is going to be massive," said Jen Thompson of Virginia Commonwealth University's Wilder School of Government.

"It's going to test their managerial and organizational skills out of the gate," said Chris Saxman, former Staunton delegate.

Virginia's new governor will face some big challenges when he's sworn in on January 8. That's the same day the Virginia legislature will begin its 2014 session, a 60-day period when lawmakers will debate Virginia's next budget. And from the very start, the new governor will be playing catch-up.

"The governor in the first year is really not going to be that successful implementing an agenda. What he can do is successfully build relationships that can carry a positive agenda forward," said Saxman.

For a governor McAuliffe, those relationships will be key to haggling over a budget bill introduced by his Republican predecessor. They will also be important when it comes to contentious policy issues, like Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

"That's going to be a battle that's set up right from the start," said Thompson.

For a governor Cuccinelli, who has worked in state government since 2002, the learning curve will be easier, and many of those important relationships will already be there. But being a familiar face could also hurt him.

"While it's good in one sense, he's a known quantity, he's built some of those relationships, in another sense it's a bad thing because he's a known quality and not everyone agrees with his approach or his policies," said Thompson.

So both candidates have their work cut out for them.

The polls continue to put McAuliffe up between five and 10 points over Cuccinelli. McAuliffe also maintains a significant fundraising advantage, which will remain critically important in these last two weeks.

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