McAuliffe, 56, a former chairman of the Democratic National
Committee and a major party fundraiser, will take the oath at the
state capitol, which was designed by Thomas Jefferson.
The soon-to-be governor, who has never before held public office,
narrowly defeated Republican Ken Cuccinelli, the outgoing attorney
general and a favorite of the party's conservative Tea Party wing.
Saturday's ceremony marks the first time in a quarter-century that
Democrats will hold all three of the state's top elective posts:
governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.
Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University
of Virginia, said Republicans could learn from McAuliffe's victory
if they want to win competitive swing states like Virginia and take
back the White House.
"Just about everyone realizes that Terry McAuliffe won mainly
because Ken Cuccinelli's positions, especially on social issues,
were too far to the right for a moderate swing state," Sabato said.
He added that McAuliffe was helped by bad publicity created by
outgoing Republican Governor Bob McDonnell's acceptance of more than
$160,000 in gifts and loans for himself and his family from Jonnie
Williams Sr, a former chief executive of dietary supplement company
Star Scientific Inc.
In his farewell address to the legislature on Wednesday, McDonnell
apologized for "the problems and pain I've caused this past year."
McDonnell is being investigated by federal and state authorities.
HILL AND BILL
Among those attending McAuliffe's swearing-in will be longtime
friends former President Bill Clinton and his wife, former Secretary
of State Hillary Clinton.
McAuliffe once wrestled an alligator to get a campaign contribution,
and he could face a similar challenge getting bills through a state
legislature where Republicans hold two-thirds of the seats.
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McAuliffe is hoping in his first year to pass legislation expanding
Medicaid and pre-kindergarten programs, tightening laws on gifts
given to public officials and improving mental-health care.
Mental health reform has become an emotional issue for lawmakers
after state Senator R. Creigh Deeds was stabbed and wounded in
November by his son, Austin "Gus" Deeds, who had a history of mental
problems. The younger Deeds then committed suicide by shooting
Gus Deeds had undergone a mental health evaluation the day before
under an emergency custody order. He had been released because no
psychiatric bed could be found.
Republican lawmakers have said they will oppose an expansion of
Medicaid. McAuliffe, who campaigned as a dealmaker, has said he is
willing to negotiate since expanding the program under the
Affordable Care Act will provide 400,000 uninsured state residents
access to health care.
During his campaign, McAuliffe received about $1.8 million from
abortion rights advocates, but his reappointment of Dr Bill Hazel as
secretary of health and human resources has raised eyebrows among
some abortion rights supporters.
Hazel was in charge when Cuccinelli, as attorney general, was
forcing through regulations for abortion clinics that could lead to
(Writing by Ian Simpson; editing by Scott Malone and Leslie Adler)
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