RICHMOND, Va. —
Gov.-elect Terry McAuliffe phoned Republican lawmakers Wednesday to talk about ways he can work with them once he takes office, saying voters are looking for bipartisanship over showmanship.
McAuliffe won a narrow race a day earlier against Republican Ken Cuccinelli and immediately tapped advisers to lead his move into the governor’s office early next year. McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee chairman, said he spent his morning calling Republican lawmakers to hear their ideas and to start building relationships.
“From now until I am inaugurated, I will continue to reach out to state legislators to build friendship and mutual trust,” McAuliffe told reporters at the state Capitol. “Compromise is actually a good thing.”
The 56-year-old McAuliffe prevailed in a campaign that was driven by a crush of negative advertising, non-stop accusations of dodgy dealings and a tea party-backed nominee who tested the limits of swing-voting Virginia.
In winning, McAuliffe broke a stubborn streak in state history. During the past nine governor’s races, the party that controlled the White House at the time has always lost.
Turnout for the election was low and only 52 percent of voters said they strongly backed their candidate; the rest had reservations or backed a candidate because they disliked the other options, according to exit polls.
Neither major candidate’s ideological views seemed “right” for a majority of Virginians; 50 percent called Cuccinelli too conservative, and 41 percent said McAuliffe is too liberal. The exit poll included interviews with 2,376 voters from 40 polling places around the state. The margin of error was plus or minus 3 percentage points.
McAuliffe tried to reset voters’ views on him on his first day as governor-elect. He said his first action once he takes office would be an executive order banning discrimination based on gender, race or sexual orientation. He said his second executive order would be to ban gifts to him or his family valued over $100 — a nod to the ethics controversies that have overshadowed incumbent Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican.
“The main message that came out of last night is that they want folks working together in a mainstream, pragmatic way,” McAuliffe said. “They are sick of the dysfunction that’s going on in government.”
McAuliffe said voters deserve a bipartisan administration and he pledged to include GOP ideas. He said there is no reason for Republicans who have the majority in the state House and make up half of the Senate to oppose his efforts.
“Jobs and economic development,” he said, “should not be partisan.”