RICHMOND — Robert F. McDonnell had just done something huge, something that for nearly a generation, every other Virginia governor had tried and failed to do. As leader of a state with some of the nation’s worst traffic and a road construction fund due to go broke by 2017, he’d ordered legislators to find a fix.
At the very moment they complied, as the balky Senate voted to send a transportation funding bill to the Republican governor, somebody watching the proceedings from inside McDonnell’s third-floor Capitol office snapped a photo that soon wound up on Twitter.
McDonnell, hands covering his mouth, palms and fingertips together as if in prayer, looks overcome with emotion. An applauding aide, tie aflutter and knees bent, appears to be doing a celebratory hop.
McDonnell looks very happy. And that’s a problem, at least now, as conservatives criticize the deal, which is heavy on taxes and came only after Democrats exacted a written pledge from the governor on Medicaid expansion. In supporting the deal, McDonnell broke a major campaign promise — made in 2009 while eviscerating Democrat R. Creigh Deeds for his willingness to raise taxes for transportation.