Change is in the air for Virginia's top office

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December 15, 2011


Richmond, VA: It's no surprise that Ken Cuccinelli is running for election in 2013. The office for which he's running is, though, is somewhat unexpected. Cuccinelli, the current Attorney General of Virginia, announced earlier this month that he will seek the Republican nomination for Governor of Virginia in the 2013 primary election.

The current governor, Republican Bob McDonnell, is prevented from running for re-election. The term limits Virginia imposes on its governors are more strict than any other state in the country: under the commonwealth's constitution, no governor may serve back-to-back terms. This means that McDonnell, unlike other governors in their first term, is ineligible to run for re-election until a full term has passed.

A group of Democratic legislators would like that to change. As Delegate Bob Brink (D-Arlington) explains, with a one-consecutive-term limit, the governor becomes "a lame duck the minute he takes his hand off the bible," and it becomes more difficult to make long-range plans. Brink is joined by House Minority Leader David Toscano (D-Charlottesville) and Mark Sickles (D-Fairfax) calling for a change to the state constitution that would, among other things, allow a governor to serve two consecutive terms.[1]

But if and until that legislation passes, which is unlikely before McDonnell's current term expires, the term limits will remain in effect. There are no such term limits on the attorney general, and many assumed Cuccinelli would seek another term in his current office. That move would have made Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling the front runner for the Republican nomination to succeed current Governor Bob McDonnell. Bolling himself expressed more disappointment than surprise that Cuccinelli is choosing to challenge him in the gubernatorial primary rather than running for lieutenant governor as Bolling's running mate on the GOP ticket, noting "nothing he does surprises me."[2]


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