McDonnell requests monthly calls with legislators
Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) wants to start holding monthly conference calls with state lawmakers in both parties in an effort to build closer ties with the legislature, the governor told Democrats in a call last week.
McDonnell spoke to members of the House and Senate caucus Thursday evening, said Sen. Mary Margaret Whipple (D-Arlington), who chairs senate's Democratic caucus. She said McDonnell spoke briefly, asking that delegates and senators keep him informed about their top priorities for the upcoming legislative session. Then Eric Finkbeiner, McDonnell's chief policy adviser, came on the line with much the same message.
"He was basically saying, 'it was good to work together last year, I hope we're going to work together this year. And my policy staff is available to you," Whipple said.
She said she understands McDonnell held a similar call with Republicans earlier in the week.
McDonnell may be trying to build stronger bonds with members of the General Assembly in an attempt to avoid a repeat of his experience in unveiling his plan to privatize the state's liquor system. Lawmakers in both parties complained the governor had not included them enough in his planning.
Their opposition led him to postpone plans for a special session to consider the idea. He has indicated he will introduce a privatization bill on the first day of the regular session.
Whipple said the ABC issue did not come up in last week's call. She praised the governor for reaching out--but said the call felt a little one-sided. After all, McDonnell asked that legislators bring their ideas to his staff, but he didn't reveal any of his own plans to them.
"Some kind of contact is better than not having contact," she said. "But I felt like it was a little one-way."
UPDATE: We've heard from McDonnell spokeswoman Stacey Johnson about these calls. She said: "The Governor is committed to working closely with legislators during session and throughout the year. Part of his outreach efforts include periodic conference calls with legislators of both houses and both parties. These forums are one of the ways our office is coordinating with members of the General Assembly on policy and to hear about any constituent issues that may be of concern."
Rosalind S. Helderman
| November 16, 2010; 11:28 AM ET
Categories: General Assembly 2010, House of Delegates, Liquor privatization, Rosalind Helderman, State Senate
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