McDonnell leaves office popular; but with indictment looming - NBC12 - Richmond, VA News

McDonnell leaves office popular; but beneath the shadow of possible indictment

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Saturday marks the end of Governor Bob McDonnell's term in office.

The republican's administration will leave its mark on history. That legacy will be both positive and negative.

When McDonnell took the oath of office four years ago, his future as a national political star seems limitless. He leaves office with a cloud of legal troubles overshadowing a governorship that accomplished much of what he set out to do.

McDonnell took office in a $6 billion hole. His first move was to reform Virginia's government.

"We found smarter ways to do things," McDonnell said.  "I cut a lot of things out of state government."

His reforms worked. They lead to four straight budget surpluses, without raising taxes- a campaign promise. But when confronted with Virginia's biggest challenge, major road congestion, McDonnell was force to break his no tax hike pledge.

"People are willing to pay more in order to make sure they have a better quality of life that they don't spend hours a day in traffic," he said, defending his transportation plan.

That plan may have required some give, but McDonnell was able to foster job growth and major reforms to the education system with broad bi-partisan support.

"Every kid having a world class teacher and great classroom," he said.  "I think as many have said this is the civil rights issue of our time."

But that does not mean his time in office was without partisan battles. Pro-choice groups marched on the capitol steps when his fellow pro-life legislators put through tough bills to restrict access to abortion. Two of the three passed, including a bill that required ultrasounds for women seeking abortions.

"If I had been the chief patron of that bill, I would've written a bit differently," McDonnell explained, "But there was a lot of misinformation put out by the opponents of that bill."

Despite all of McDonnell's accomplishments, the headline of his term remains the possibility of indictment after he took more than $160 thousand in gifts and loans from the CEO of a supplement company, money he has since repaid. he still contends he did nothing wrong.

"Whether it is the homeless shelters or the food banks or whether it is Dominion Virginia power or Star Scientific, everyone gets a fair shake when it comes to getting meetings or talking to people in government," McDonnell said.

Negative press aside McDonnell remains a popular figure in Virginia. While his political future has been put on hold, he does not rule out a return to the spotlight, perhaps in four years in a run for the office he is set to leave. 

"I'm 63 now, and a lot can happen in that time, I can't say." But he refused to rule it out.  

That means the book on Bob McDonnell is not be finished. We will have to wait to learn if the ending is a happy one.

You can see Governor McDonnell talk about the potential of another run for Governor of Virginia on DecisionVirginia.com.

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