Back-handed compliment: Howell sends warning to McAuliffe

The ink is not yet dry on Terry McAuliffe’s win in Tuesday’s governor’s race, and he’s already in for a fight with Republicans in the House of Delegates, judging from the congratulatory message offered by House Speaker Bill Howell.

howellgavel2Howell reminded McAuliffe in the message that “Virginians have overwhelmingly re-elected a Republican majority in the Virginia House of Delegates, affirming their support for principled, conservative leadership and the promise of real results based on the ideas of fiscal responsibility, free enterprise and limited government.”

Virginia Democrats in 2013, as in past House election cycles, did a poor job of fielding candidates across the board in House races, and didn’t seriously challenge Republicans in any respect for control of the lower legislative chamber.

Howell spun that lack of effort into a conservative mandate from the same voters who elected McAuliffe and Democratic lieutenant governor nominee Ralph Northam.

Republican candidates for the House of Delegates won over 1,000,000 votes, nearly 25,000 more than Gov.-elect McAuliffe with 97 percent of precincts reporting,” Howell said. “This demonstrates overwhelming support of Virginia voters for Republican leadership and is a clear vote against higher taxes, more spending and bigger government.”

Then came the kneecap from Howell.

“The people of Virginia have spoken, and I congratulate Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe on his victory. Serving as Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia is a distinct honor that comes with tremendous responsibility. Throughout the now-concluded campaign, we have seen nothing but vague promises from candidate McAuliffe. I am eager to hear what substantive policy proposals a Gov. McAuliffe will offer. While we are not certain what his legislative priorities are, we hope that we can find common ground on the issues Virginians care about,” Howell said.

Not exactly left unsaid there: Good luck, Mr. Governor, on that Medicaid expansion.

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