Picture this: One of the most historically rich states, which in the time of our nation’s founding, boasted representatives such as Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, James Madison, and many others and has since that time been known throughout America as a bastion of liberty and freedom is now run by a lover of liberalism, big government, and Bill Clinton. Sad, no?
The worst part is it’s true. This past Saturday, Virginia inaugurated New York native Terry McAuliffe her 72nd Governor, and yes, his bestie Bill was at his side. Although Virginia has proven to be a purple state over the past 20-30 years, it’s hard to believe how fast the political spectrum can change. Four short years ago, Virginia was livid. Barack Obama had crushed John McCain in the 2008 Presidential election, so Republicans in Virginia rallied. In 2009, Republican Attorney General Bob McDonnell handily beat his Democrat opponent, Creigh Deeds. Along with a McDonnell Gubernatorial win, Virginia also elected a Republican Lieutenant Governor (Bill Bolling) and Attorney General (Ken Cuccinelli).
The following is a list of their accomplishments:
- McDonnell delivered the 2010 Republican response to President Obama’s State of the Union address.
- Four consecutive budget surpluses, as well as leaving office with a $585 million revenue surplus.
- Cuccinelli was the first AG in the country to file suit against Obamacare after its passage on March 23, 2010.
- More than 1,000 children adopted in 2013 as a part of the Governors “Virginia Adopts” initiative.
- Instituted new health regulations for abortion providers.
- McDonnell was on Mitt Romney’s final list of VP picks in 2012.
- Controversial transportation bill passed which will greatly improve road conditions, cut down on NoVa and Hampton Roads traffic, and create — jobs.
- Implementation of state Senator Mark Obenshain’s Voter ID bill.
- Restored the voting rights of non-violent fellons.
- McDonnell served as Chairman of the Republican Governor’s Association.
These are just the major highlights of their four years of serving Virginia. Sadly, much of their accomplishments, and the accomplishments of Virginians for a long time are about to be changed in a big way. Moments after formally becoming Governor McAuliffe, TMac showed Virginia what she’s going to be dealing with over the next four years.
“My administration will work tirelessly to ensure that those opportunities are equal for all of Virginia’s children– No matter if you’re a girl or a boy, no matter what part of the Commonwealth you live in, no matter your race or religion, and no matter whom you love. There is still work to do to. We must work to ensure that the children of new immigrants to Virginia have equal educational opportunities. To ensure that someone can’t lose a job simply because they are gay. And to ensure that every woman has the right to make her own personal health care decisions.”
McAuliffe has plans to repeal Virginia’s ban on same-sex marriage, remove all restrictions on abortion (so much for “Safe, legal, and rare” eh, Bill?), institute strict gun control laws, address mental health, and give illegal immigrants in-state tuition rates. The scariest part is all of it will likely be achieved. Although Virginia’s House of Delegates is run by a Republican majority, the state Senate is split 20/20, leaving Lieutenant Governor Northam to cast the deciding vote.
It’s amazing what a difference four years can make. The situation this time around was the exact same as 2009. President Obama had just won re-election in 2012, Virginians were angry, but clearly not enough. Even though the race for Governor between McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli was one of the closest in Virginia history, it wasn’t enough. Two of the deciding factors of this election were the highly successful “Cuccinelli is anti-woman” smear campaign McAuliffe ran and the fact that TMac handily won NoVa.
So unless McAuliffe does something impeachment worthy over the next four years (which isn’t that unlikely considering he is the Lincoln Bedroom booking agent), Virginia Republicans have four very difficult years ahead of them. With Senator Mark Warner up for re-election this fall, it’ll be interesting to see if the Tea Party, Libertarians, and GOP unite by nominating a strong Conservative candidate at their convention this June, or if they will continue down the path of fighting over every tiny disagreement which can also be known as literally handing an election to the Democratic candidate.
Follow Julia Porterfield on Twitter @JK_Porterfield.