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Bill To Allow Two-Term Governors In Virginia Goes To House

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Members of the Virginia General Assembly are considering a constitutional amendment that would allow the commonwealth's governor to run for reelection.

Virginia is the only state where the governor is prohibited from seeking a second consecutive term. Former governors can run again later, as was the case when Mills Godwin returned to the Governor's mansion in 1974 four years after his first term ended.

The Virginia State Senate approved an amendment to the Virginia Constitution this week that would end the longstanding prohibition, which dates back to 1851. But the effort may have a difficult time in the House of Delegates, according to Geoff Skelly of the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

"Virginia has this legacy of having one-term governors, and perhaps that's seen as some kind of small government position that more Republicans might be included to support than not," Skelly says.

One House member who is in favor of the amendment is Del. Bob Brink (D-Arlington). He says the amendment must overcome the force of inertia.

"In Virginia, nothing ever happens for the first time. So the fact that we have this system in place has a force of its own," Brink says.

Former Govs. Jim Gilmore and Chuck Robb are in favor of overturning the restriction, although former Gov. George Allen is not. Former Govs. Linwood Holton and Gerald Baliles are in favor of a compromise position: a one-time six-year term.

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