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The Republican governor also promises to unveil legislation before the session convenes Jan. 9 to reform state transportation financing. He hopes to generate at least $500 million a year in new money for upkeep and repair of state roads and bridges as burgeoning maintenance costs — which have first claim on state transportation revenue — threaten to consume money for new highway construction.

The overarching story of 2013, one way or another, will be money and the damage to Virginia’s economy from Washington’s actions — or lack of them. For anything to happen in Congress, the House has to act, and at the heart of every legislative battle is Rep. Eric Cantor of Richmond, leader of the still-formidable HouseGOP majority.

In 2011, Mr. Cantor relished his role as President Obama’s designated foil when the government came within hours of exhausting its ability to borrow money to pay its bills and defaulting on its debts for the first time in U.S. history. In 2012, Mr. Cantor has been much more subdued, with House Speaker John A. Boehner taking the lead in talks with Mr. Obama as the White House and Congress struggle to reach another deficit reduction deal and avert a New Year’s Day plunge over the “fiscal cliff.”

A likely result is that Congress and the White House will agree to a stopgap measure, avoiding the January deadline and deferring decisive action later into 2013. If that happens, which Mr. Cantor will we see: the combative one who visibly angered the president on at least one occasion, or the low-profile one?

Finally, there’s Rep. J. Randy Forbes of Chesapeake, the reserved Republican who is on a collision course with Mr. McDonnell over the governor’s plans to impose $4 tolls plus $2 on-ramp and off-ramp fees on Interstate 95 near the North Carolina border. Mr. Forbes vehemently opposes the tolls on the interstate, which bisects his 4th District, one of the poorest and most rural in Virginia. Even so, he’s not ready to support higher taxes to fund transportation, either.