- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 5, 2005

RICHMOND — A panel studying ending Virginia’s unique ban on governors seeking re-election gave the measure a guarded recommendation yesterday and voted to keep studying several closely related measures.

The joint subcommittee gave Delegate Harry R. Purkey’s bill calling for a constitutional amendment to allow Virginia governors two successive terms its tepid blessing and sent it to lawmakers for debate when the General Assembly convenes Wednesday.

The panel, however, chose to keep studying several related measures, including whether to shift some of the governor’s power to make appointments to the state Board of Education, the boards of visitors of state-supported colleges and the Commonwealth Transportation Board to the legislature, if governors are allowed to succeed themselves.

The panel of six legislators and six residents is advisory. Its recommendation for a bill hardly assures its passage, nor does its lack of a recommendation doom a bill.

But with the study commission calling for more study on measures closely tied to the gubernatorial-succession bill itself, opponents who wish to stall or kill the bill gained an advantage, Mr. Purkey said.

“There’s an old adage: ‘You defeat it by delaying it,’” said Mr. Purkey, Virginia Beach Republican.

The measure can take effect only by amending the Virginia Constitution, a process that requires a resolution to pass the House and Senate in successive years with a legislative election in between.

That means Mr. Purkey’s bill would have to pass this session, then again in 2006, after this fall’s election for all 100 House seats, before it could be presented to voters to ratify or reject in a statewide referendum in fall 2006. If the measure doesn’t win passage the first time this year, it could make a statewide ballot no sooner than the 2008 election.

The measure would not apply to Gov. Mark Warner or even to his successor, who will be chosen this fall. The first governor who would be eligible for two straight terms would be the winner of the 2009 governor’s race.

Virginia is the only state that does not permit its governor to seek re-election to a second term. Mr. Warner, a Democrat, and his predecessor, Republican James S. Gilmore III, both have called for allowing successive terms, saying a single term is too little time for a governor to fully implement programs promised as a candidate.

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