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New year brings hope for positive changes
In next 12 months, we'll pick a new governor, revel in more sports highlights, and add a few million more high-energy, active adults

Date published: 1/10/2013

By Ed Jones

THIS SHOULD BE a banner year. By the time we usher 2013 out the door in 12 months, we will have elected a new governor, cheered through exciting new seasons for the Nationals and Redskins, and maybe, just maybe, improved our country's financial condition.

For me, the coming year means a celebration of my 65th birthday, which, oddly enough, feels more like a launching pad than an end to the road. More about that later.

This year's gubernatorial election proves once again why Virginia's unique, non-succession rule for governors makes no sense. It's virtually impossible for an instantly lame-duck chief executive to build the kind of legislative base he needs to push through major reforms on issues such as transportation and education.

A relic from the Byrd Organization years, invented to ensure that no governor built his own power base, the non-succession rule needs abolishing ASAP.

In the meantime, the 2013 race appears to have narrowed to two candidates, or maybe three, all of whom carry impressively heavy baggage.

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the GOP nominee-to-be, should never be underestimated. Any conservative Republican who can be elected state senator in Fairfax County is a power to be reckoned with.

But Cuccinelli's tea party-ish approach to issues such as climate control will make him a difficult sell in broad swaths of Northern Virginia, an area that often seems only technically attached to the rest of the commonwealth.

Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic front-runner, hails from that same D.C.-area base. His baggage? He often comes across as more of a salesman than a political leader.

An incidental Virginian, McAuliffe appears determined to spend what it takes to win. But check the record: The big spenders who flunk the authenticity test are usually the big losers.

Then there's the possibility that Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling might take a break from the GOP and become a slightly-more-moderate conservative option as an independent.

On paper, a Bolling candidacy makes sense. There's plenty of ideological room between Cuccinelli and McAuliffe. But the track record suggests that it's a long shot at best.

The last Republican-turned-independent deemed to have a fighting chance for statewide office was J. Marshall Coleman, who ran for the Senate in 1994 against Republican Oliver North and Democratic incumbent Charles Robb. Not even an endorsement by Republican Sen. John Warner could lift Coleman above 12 percent of the vote.

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