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Should Virginia Governors Be Able To Run For Reelection?

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Some lawmakers in Virginia think the office of governor would be more effective with longer term limits.
Doug Kerr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/dougtone/8124526253/
Some lawmakers in Virginia think the office of governor would be more effective with longer term limits.

Virginia lawmakers are about to consider a constitutional amendment that would allow governors to seek reelection. The commonwealth is currently the only state where governors can not seek a second consecutive term.

The role of governor began as a relatively powerless job in Virginia  — one that was subordinate to the legislature. Members of the General Assembly selected the governor until 1851, when voters in Virginia were finally able to elect their chief executive. But a limitation was placed on the popularly elected governor: no second consecutive term.

Now legislators are about to consider a constitutional amendment that would allow Virginia to ditch its status as the only state that does not allow governors to run for reelection.

"If a governor comes up with a good idea in the second year of his term, it doesn't take much to just wait him out," says Michael Fauntroy, political science professor at Geroge Mason University.

He supports an effort by Del. Bob Brink (D-Arlington) to amend the state Constitution. Brink says the failure of former Gov. Tim Kaine to pass a transportation package in a single term is evidence supporting the need for an amendment.

"What we've done through consecutive governors is not been able to build up the consensus that we need in order to get long-range solutions to transportation," Brink says.

But Del. Dave Albo (R-Fairfax County) doesn't think Kaine's stalled transportation package is a persuasive argument.

"He could have come back and had a bill re-filed with a fix," Albo says. "Why does he need another four years to do that? Why couldn't he just do it when he was there?" Albot is skeptical about the need for change.

"Well I'm trying to figure out exactly what problem they are trying to fix," Albo says. "We have a really well run and profitable state. I don't understand why we need to change."

The effort to allow two consecutive gubernatorial terms has failed many times before, although the last vote was back in 2004. Dozens of new members have been elected since that time, and supporters of the amendment are hopeful this could finally be their year.

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