Ask a Virginia Democrat for a public comment about Governor Terry McAuliffe and you get the standard political rhetoric about what “a great job he is doing,”
Talk to them privately and a different picture emerges. The celebration over McAuliffe’s victory last November is over and an increasing number of Democrats admit, off the record, that they have “had it” with the missteps by the former party fundraiser in his first elected political office.
As Virginia heads for a possible government shutdown at the end of June, more and more Democrats say they are worried about the lack of political acumen of their novice governor and his outright arrogance of insisting that “my way is the only way” when it comes to managing the government of the Commonwealth.
“Virginia took a chance on an untested and unproven commodity,” says a Democratic insider I’ve known since our common days working in politics in Washington. “Some now regret taking that chance.”
McAuliffe won the governorship mostly because his tea party-embraced opponent, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, was so far out in right field that even that he even scarred conservatives. And it didn’t help the party of the elephant that the incumbent governor was ending his term mired in scandal.
Of course, anything aligned with Obamacare sends Republicans into seizures and the battle has brought Washington-style gridlock to Virginia government and the very real possibility of a government shutdown when the current fiscal year expires at the end of June.
Southwestern Virginia State Sen. Phil Puckett added to the mess over the weekend by resigning — eliminating the one-vote majority that Democrats hold in the Senate and giving Republicans an opportunity to seize absolute control of the General Assembly.
Puckett’s move, some say, was an “in your face” gesture that highlights the growing dissatisfaction that Democrats have with their governor.
“It’s a mess, there’s no doubt about that,” grumbles one Democrat. “It could have been avoided if Terry McAuliffe had turned out to be more of a Democrat and less of an autocrat.”