The Executive Mansion in Richmond, courtesy of Wikipedia
Virginia Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe says he has still not spoken with his Republican opponent, Ken Cuccinelli, in the wake of his defeat at the polls Tuesday night. But in Richmond Thursday, Governor Bob McDonnell extended a helping hand to his successor.
Over an asian-inspired lunch of sliced beef and sesame broccoli at the Executive Mansion, the 71st and soon-to-be 72nd governor of the commonwealth discussed McAuliffe’s transition into power. Central to their conversations was Virginia’s next biennial budget, which McDonnell will introduce next month and hand off to McAuliffe in January.
“I want him to have the best possible start, so when he hits that desk January 11 that he’s fully briefed on the budget and can make whatever amendments he sees fit at the time,” McDonnell said.
McDonnell, a veteran policy-maker, also shared some practical words of wisdom with McAuliffe, a first time office holder.
“He said, ‘Terry, this is like drinking water out of a fire hose,’” McAuliffe said. “He said, ‘A lot of things are going to come at you very fast.’”
The two also joked about the apparent similarities between them.
“We were celebrating the fact that it is yet another Irish Catholic with five kids that will be living in the governor’s mansion,” McDonnell said. “So we’ve already warned the staff here.”
There are fewer similarities between them on the policy front, where both are separated along a partisan divide. They split on social issues like abortion, and hold different opinions on whether Virginia should expand Medicaid to an estimated 400,000 uninsured people.
But after their first lunch meeting Thursday, both seemed more focused on their shared interests.
“Transportation and education and job creation, and so forth,” McDonnell said. “These things can be done, even with people who are ideologically apart, if there’s good will. And Terry’s already told me how much he wants to get that done.”
“Bob McDonnell is a class act, and he has been nothing but helpful to me,” McAuliffe said. “I hope as governor I can emulate what Governor McDonnell has done.”
Members of McAuliffe’s transition team are also meeting with members of the McDonnell administration this week, as the governor-elect begins seeking potential cabinet members.
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