Democrat Terry McAuliffe’s election as governor will have a profound impact on Virginia’s policies and politics. Here are just a few of the ramifications.
McAuliffe favors Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act, saying it would create thousands of jobs, bring millions in revenue to the state and extend care to 400,000 Virginians.
GOP leaders of the House of Delegates are skeptical that the federal government would live up to its pledge to fully fund the expansion for the first three years and fund it at 90 percent in subsequent years.
McAuliffe has suggested he would find a way to undo requirements, approved by the state Board of Health, that apply stringent new-building requirements to existing abortion clinics.
The next governor will appoint the state health commissioner, who has the authority to issue waivers to the clinics or guidelines to inspectors that could allow clinics to stay open without full compliance with the regulations.
The governor appoints members to the Board of Health whose terms expire during his term. Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican who opposes abortion, appointed a majority of the current board.
The campaign played out amid the scandal involving McDonnell’s acceptance of gifts and loans from Star Scientific CEO Jonnie Williams Sr.
McAuliffe says he would issue an executive order to impose an immediate ban on the governor and resident family members accepting gifts exceeding $100. He says he will seek legislative approval to extend the $100 limit to the offices of the lieutenant governor and the attorney general, and members of the General Assembly.
McAuliffe says he would sign an executive order that includes sexual orientation as part of the state’s anti-discrimination policy.
McAuliffe supports recognizing gay marriage, but has said he doubts legislation to counter the state’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman would reach his desk. Republicans dominate the House of Delegates.
McAuliffe is banking on economic growth spurred by Medicaid expansion. He says he would identify efficiencies in government to fund an agenda that would expand prekindergarten education and higher education affordability and give teachers a pay raise.
Balance of power
McAuliffe gained a key ally in Democrat Ralph S. Northam, the new lieutenant governor.
The Senate is split with 20 Republicans and 20 Democrats. The lieutenant governor — currently Republican Bill Bolling — may cast tiebreaking votes on most legislation.
If the Senate remains 20-20 following special elections for Northam’s Senate seat and for that of the senator who is elected attorney general, Democrats would gain tiebreaking authority.
Cuccinelli’s loss to McAuliffe, who has no elective experience and lost the Democratic nomination in 2009, could lead to a reassessment in the state GOP.
Last year, Republican activists and tea party supporters engineered a takeover of the state GOP’s central committee, which changed the nomination process from a primary to a convention — a shift that favored Cuccinelli.
McAuliffe’s victory gives former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton a friend and ally at the helm of a critical swing state as she contemplates another run for president. McAuliffe was the chairman of Clinton’s 2008 campaign for the Democratic nomination.