Our View: Wild ride ahead

Posted: January 15, 2014

This past weekend, Virginia’s state Capitol witnessed considerable pomp and circumstance (albeit sometimes in the pouring rain), as the Commonwealth’s new statewide officials were sworn in and feted during this quadrennial rite of passage.

For the first time since 1990, Inauguration Day in Richmond saw Democrats take the oath for all three offices. And now that the festivities have ended, Gov. McAuliffe must turn his attention to something he has never done in his long career in politics — governing.

The new governor took to the stage promising bipartisanship, a theme he has been harping on since his election. As The Washington Post reported, “During the nine weeks since his election, (Mr.) McAuliffe has ardently courted Republicans and selected moderate Cabinet members, seeking to project an image of bipartisanship and seriousness. ‘In Virginia, political progress in divided government is a tradition that we must continue,’ (Mr.) McAuliffe said during his inaugural remarks. ‘I will work to live up to that tradition.’”

With all the niceties out of the way, the next few weeks will see how well the new governor and the GOP-dominated House of Delegates play together, especially on his stated objective of expanding Medicaid in Virginia. On Monday, speaking to the General Assembly for the first time, the governor doubled down on this intent, which generated this icy response from House Republican leader Kirk Cox: “I just don’t see this (Medicaid expansion) happening.”

In the Senate, as the election for Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam’s seat heads for a recount and a spirited race for Attorney General Mark Herring’s seat is underway, the balance of power still remains up for grabs, something that could also impact Mr. McAuliffe’s agenda.

The legislature has settled in for a “long” (60-day) session, so voters will have plenty of time to see how much bipartisanship exists in Richmond.