RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – The General Assembly "gavels in" tomorrow, and one of the biggest questions will be how the GOP wields its newfound power.
And they're fighting from a position of strength: big majority in the House, a tie in the Senate...aided by the lieutenant governor's tiebreaking vote.
Halfway through his four-year term, Governor Bob McDonnell is surrounded now by more republicans than he's ever had before.
"We'll be civil, but we'll be passionate about the things that republicans and conservatives believe in for the future of our state," said McDonnell.
The numbers, they believe, bode well for the GOP agenda this year...including more money for the state retirement system, a bigger investment in education, and more...as explained by two future rivals for McDonnell's office.
"It is the little guy that is protected when we protect property rights. Be it small business or homeowners," said Ken Cuccinelli, Attorney General.
"Having a modern transportation infrastructure is critical to our ability to attract new business, industry, and jobs to our state," Lt. Governor Bill Bolling added.
The Lieutenant Governor has gone on record saying his tiebreaking power will affect mostly organizational issues. If committees are organized to favor republicans, that could impact the kind of bills that actually make it to the floor for a vote.
Democrats like Senator Don McEachin say the GOP won't have a blank check.
"We are not shrinking violets by any stretch of the imagination. So my caucus certainly feels inclined to speak and to be heard on the issues, and we will be," he said.
Back on the steps of the state capitol, the governor urged cooperation.
"I'm asking republicans don't be arrogant, don't overreach, don't fight. And I'm asking the democrats, don't be angry, don't be petty and political, work together," McDonnell stated.
A new dynamic, as the 2012 session gets set to begin.
It's a sixty day session...so it'll take a while before we see what kind of bills get passed. But the organization of the House and Senate, that's one of the first orders of business, and we'll get a look at that tomorrow.