- Last Updated on Wednesday, 07 September 2011 00:00
- Published on Wednesday, 07 September 2011 00:00
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Governor Bob McDonnell has been having an exceptionally good year. While most states are still grappling with budget shortfalls, layoffs, and having to cut back on services, McDonnell was able to report that Virginia had one of its largest surpluses in years. Thanks to Virginia’s typically tight-fisted approach to government the budget year ended with $545 million still in the bank. It’s a remarkable feat.
But that’s not all.
While unemployment, nationally, just can’t seem to get below 9%, and last month, actually went up a little, Virginia’s unemployment, which was 7.5 percent 18 months ago, is now 6.1%. That is a substantial improvement over just a year ago. In fact, there are few states that can match that kind of improvement. Oh, and add to that, a recent CNBC poll which showed Virginia as the most business friendly in the nation, and it leaves the Governor with a little room for a well-earned
pat on the back.
However, all those encouraging economic and budget numbers weren’t the only thing making our Governor smile. Earlier this month, McDonnell was asked to the Chair the Republican Governors Association. This is a high profile national job that makes him a player in the preparations for the 2012 election. He will be heavily involved in candidate recruitment, fund-raising, and campaigning. The GOP, having already picked up several executive mansions in 2010, would like to pick up a few more in 2012.
But there is more going on than that. McDonnell, thanks to being part of the tide which signaled a backlash against the Democrats in 2009, and later, proving himself a competent economic manager in the midst of a national economic crisis, has found some national attention. His steady management of the state, relying on a conservative fiscal policy, and his equally conservative stands on social issues has made him someone to watch in the GOP ranks. And now, as Chairman of the Republican Governor’s association he will regularly be called on a spokesman for the Republican Party. He will also be gathering his share of political IOU’s as he stumps for GOP candidates (and not just those running for Governor) all over the country.
This puts McDonnell in an ideal position to be a Vice Presidential pick for the GOP ticket in 2012. McDonnell, with his conservative credentials, would be an ideal compliment for anyone currently in the Republican field. He could be the calm, reserved voice if Rick Perry were to win the nod or he could be the true blue conservative to balance a ticket led by Mitt Romney.
Virginia, in years past, when it came to national politics, was almost forgotten. We voted soundly Republican and rarely did our senators or governor achieve much on a national stage. But that’s changed. Virginia, while still conservative, after 2010, is considered a swing state, and during the last election cycle our former Governor, Tim Kaine, was Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. Kaine was also a strong contender for being Obama’s pick for Vice President. And now, it looks like his successor, while not in the same demanding role as Chair of the Party, fortunately still has time to be Governor of Virginia and will have his chance at the national limelight, as well.