- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 29, 2016

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said Wednesday he had little concern that Republicans would prevail in a lawsuit over his blanket restoration of voting and other rights to ex-felons, but added that even if the court ruled against him he would still prevail with several thousand strokes of his pen.

The Democratic governor and Republican lawmakers are at odds over whether McAuliffe had the authority to issue an order in April restoring certain civil rights - like voting, serving on juries or being able to run for office - to more than 200,000 ex-felons. Republicans have argued McAuliffe only has the right to restore rights on an individual basis, and are suing him. The Virginia Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments in the lawsuit in July.

On Wednesday, McAuliffe mocked the GOP-led lawsuit’s arguments, the Republican’s chosen lawyer, and the potential threat to his restoration order. McAuliffe said during an appearance on WTOP radio he’s confident he’ll win the case, but said it won’t matter if he doesn’t.

“Let me tell you, the next day, I will sit at my desk, probably with the assistance of my autopen, and I will sign 206,000 orders,” McAuliffe said, referring to a machine that simulates personal signatures. “They will have their rights back that day. This is much ado about nothing.”

The line in the sand drew a quick rebuke from GOP House Speaker William J. Howell’s office. Howell and other Republicans have blasted McAuliffe’s administration for including some individuals who are not eligible to have their rights restored on a state-run online database, including 132 sex offenders who are confined to a treatment center under a form of civil commitment. McAuliffe has said those were clerical errors and no one whose rights were not meant to be restore have been.

Howell spokesman Matthew Moran said McAuliffe should be accountable for each restoration order he signs.

“He won’t be able to cover up his mistakes as clerical errors and he will have to explain to Virginians why convicted murderers should serve on juries and child predators should be able to run for school board,” Moran said.

Also during the WTOP appearance, McAuliffe said Virginia should find out in the coming days whether it will receive as much as $200 million federal funds for a range of transportation projects designed to ease congestion in Northern Virginia. Those projects include improving passenger rail service, and extending express lanes on I-95 to Fredericksburg.

McAuliffe also said he’s been strongly advocating to presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton that she pick Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine to be her running mate.

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