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Robert 'Bob' Francis McDonnell
Birthdate: June 15, 1954
Birth Place: Philadelphia, PA, United States
Residence: Richmond, VA
Religion: Roman Catholic
First Elected: 2009
Undergraduate: University of Notre Dame
Graduate: Boston University
Graduate: Regent University
Graduate: Regent University
Bob McDonnell was born in Philadelphia, and currently lives in Richmond, Va. He was raised with three sisters in a Roman Catholic household in Fairfax County, the son of a stern career Air Force officer and a stay-at-home mom.
He earned a bachelor's degree from the University of Notre Dame and a master's in business administration from Boston University. He later earned both a master's in public policy and a law degree from Regent University.
McDonnell served five years on active Army duty in Germany and in Fort Eustis, Va. He has worked for a major hospital supply firm and as an advertising sales representative for The Virginian-Pilot newspaper in Norfolk.
He was elected to the Virginia House of Delegates in 1991 and served until 2005, the year he was elected state attorney general. He left that office in mid-2009 to focus full time on his gubernatorial run. He was elected governor in 2009.
He is only Virginia's second Catholic governor, following on the heels of the first Catholic governor, Democrat Tim Kaine.
McDonnell met his wife, Maureen, when he was in college and she was a cheerleader for the Washington Redskins. They reside in the Executive Mansion on Richmond's Capitol Square and have three daughters and two sons.
In 2008, Barack Obama's presidential election brought the Virginia GOP to its lowest point in decades, leading a Democratic sweep of the state, including a U.S. Senate seat and three U.S. House seats.
One year later, Bob McDonnell capped a stunning Republican comeback.
McDonnell's 2009 gubernatorial campaign focused on creating jobs in a sour economy, with McDonnell touting the simple mantra, "Bob's 4 Jobs." Though a college thesis from 1990 _ in which he denigrated a Supreme Court ruling that privacy rights for married couples trumped states' rights to regulate contraceptives _ came back to haunt him, he successfully dismissed claims that he was hostile to women's rights, gay rights or single mothers.
He was elected governor with 59 percent of the vote, while his party also claimed the lieutenant governorship and the attorney general's office.
McDonnell's tenure has been marked by efforts to push state social and fiscal policy sharply to the right _ sometimes successfully, other times not.
In his first year, he struggled with the same fiscal crisis that had dogged his Democratic predecessor, Tim Kaine.
As part of his budget-balancing strategy, McDonnell persuaded the General Assembly to defer more than $600 million in state payments to the severely underfunded public employee pension fund, the Virginia Retirement System. Applying the money to other programs amid billions of dollars in shortfalls amounted to a loan from the VRS, something McDonnell reconciled two years later by requiring employees to pay 5 percent of their pay into the system, while offsetting the payments with a 5 percent pay raise.
Frustrated like his predecessors with the state's worsening inability to keep pace with highway maintenance needs, McDonnell searched for ways to raise transportation cash without breaking his oath not to raise taxes.
His most successful action was to order an independent audit by a private firm of the Virginia Department of Transportation, which found more than $1 billion squirreled away in unused accounts and tied to mothballed projects. He used that money along with about $3 billion in borrowed cash for the largest one-time investment into Virginia's highways since the 1980s.
McDonnell unsuccessfully proposed putting Virginia's state-owned liquor stores into private owners' hands and using the proceeds for transportation. Democrats attacked the proposal as a gratuitous general fund giveaway, showing that the state would lose millions of dollars in the process. When social conservatives voiced concerns that a laissez-faire liquor policy would put alcohol more easily into the hands of minors and problem drinkers, even the House's ruling Republicans rejected the idea.
According to a 2011 Quinnipiac University poll McDonnell was Virginia's most admired political figure, his popularity peaking at 62 percent. With Republicans winning working control of the state Senate in the 2011 elections, the 2012 presidential election year dawned with McDonnell poised to play a pivotal role in Virginia, a battleground that President Obama needs to win again to assure his re-election.
In January 2012, on the eve of the South Carolina primary, McDonnell announced his preference for former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for the GOP's presidential nomination. McDonnell's name soared as a possible Romney running mate.
But his prospects dimmed in February 2012 when an abortion-related bill blew up in his face. State lawmakers had proposed legislation that would have subjected women seeking abortions to a mandatory vaginally invasive ultrasound examination. Democrats and women's rights groups cried foul, calling the measure "state-mandated rape." The episode received critical national news coverage and became fodder for television comedians such as John Stewart, who called McDonnell out personally and labeled Virginia "the Poonanny state."
McDonnell claimed he was unaware of the provision requiring the invasive procedure and persuaded House and Senate GOP leaders to amend the bill to remove the internal ultrasound exam.
The damage, however, was done. Thousands of protesters _ most of them women _ staged demonstrations on Capitol Square culminating in a March 2012 rally that ended with the arrest of 30 people.
McDonnell's job-approval rating took a hit, falling to 57 percent in a subsequent Quinnipiac poll. More importantly, however, the same poll showed that Obama's 5 percentage-point lead over Romney in Virginia remained unchanged--even with McDonnell as a hypothetical Romney running mate.
Through the spring and summer of 2012, McDonnell was rarely mentioned as a vice-presidential candidate, but he remained an active proxy for Romney, appearing across Virginia and traveling frequently to other states on his behalf.
Source: Associated Press
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