The Bulletin

Senate rejects proposal to give Va. governors a shot at two terms. ‘Two words: Gilmore and McAuliffe.’

By: - January 16, 2019 3:12 pm
Virginia State Capitol

The Virginia State Capitol. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

Virginia is the only state in the union that limits governors to one consecutive term and, at least for now, it’s going to stay that way.

The Senate rejected a constitutional amendment that would have let governors run for a second term in an 18-22 vote that cut across party lines, though Republicans made up the majority of the opposition.

The constitutional amendment has been proposed by members of both parties for years, but this is the first time (at least in recent memory) it’s made it out of committee to a floor debate.

Sen. Adam Ebbin, D-Alexandria, sponsored the resolution. He and other senators from both parties argued letting governors run for a second term would promote greater continuity of government and increase accountability by giving them more of an incentive to keep their campaign promises.

Opponents argued that they think the current system is working pretty well. “Realistically, what is a more efficient and effective government than the one we have in Virginia? I can’t identify one,” said Sen. Dick Black, R-Loudoun.

Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, R-James City, said his opposition came down to two governors former governors he apparently doesn’t think very highly of.

“Two words: Gilmore and McAuliffe.”

Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax, also opposed the move, saying he sees a “dysfunctional government” across the Potomac in Washington.

“For better or worse we’re able to solve issues and get things done,” he said.


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Ned Oliver
Ned Oliver

Ned, a Lexington native, has been a fulltime journalist since 2008, beginning at The News-Gazette in Lexington, and including stints at the Berkshire Eagle, in Berkshire County, Mass., and the Times-Dispatch and Style Weekly in Richmond. He is a graduate of Bard College at Simon’s Rock, in Great Barrington, Mass. He was named Virginia's outstanding journalist for 2020 by the Virginia Press Association.