Chris Graham: What if McAuliffe were to veto the budget?

state-capitol-headerWith Phil Puckett’s resignation throwing control of the State Senate back to Republicans, it’s looking like the budget stalemate that has tied up local and state government since the winter will lift as soon as Thursday.

But that’s assuming that Terry McAuliffe tucks his tail between his legs and accepts the defeat that Republicans dealt him by playing patronage with Puckett.

Question: why are we assuming that?

That question could lead us to this one: what happens if McAuliffe says, in effect, eff you, I veto?

First answer to that could be, but what about his political future? Um, well, this is Virginia, where governors have no political future, especially so when the state’s two U.S. Senate seats are held by members of their party.

This is another area where our one-term governor system comes back to bite us. McAuliffe was a lame duck even before he took the oath of office. Nothing he does in office can help him or prevent him from getting re-elected. He could trade political favors for trips and Rolex watches, and what’s the worst that can happen, he gets indicted?

(See McDonnell, Robert.)

So let’s consider McAuliffe vetoing the budget. Republicans just bought with your tax dollars control of the Senate, but they didn’t buy a two-thirds majority. Democrats have already sown enough discontent with the deal that gave Republicans the majority in the Senate that it’s even money that the public will react either way.

And however the public were to react, what, seriously, are the repercussions from whatever the reaction is? As already discussed, there are none for McAuliffe. The next state legislative elections are more than a year away, with the House being basically a write-off, given that its districts have been redrawn twice now by Republicans to slice and dice a state that has two Democratic U.S. senators and a Democratic governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general into a near-supermajority GOP body.

The 2015 Senate races could be interesting, but more so for more mainstream Republicans like the Valley’s own Emmett Hanger, who no doubt will be Cantored no matter how he votes on the final budget.

The next state elections after that are in 2017, when the three statewide offices plus the House up, but 2017 is so far off into the distance that it might as well be The Adventures of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century.

Which brings us back to McAuliffe and the veto. It doesn’t hurt him, it doesn’t hurt Democrats in the General Assembly. It kicks Republicans in the shins. Oh, and from a policy perspective, it keeps hope alive for Democrats to achieve a key part of the platform that they ran and won on in the 2013 state elections.

No way that veto stays in McAuliffe’s pocket.

 

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