Thursday, November 8, 2001

Virginia Gov.-elect Mark R. Warner said yesterday if his victory carries any mandate, it is to end politics as usual and foster bipartisanship.
“I think the voters of Virginia and the people of Virginia said they want a fresh approach,” Mr. Warner said at a news conference at the Richmond Marriott hotel, his first since winning the governorship Tuesday by 5 percentage points.
“They want an approach that is going to be inclusive, bipartisan, diverse, that’s going to focus on innovation. And that’s the approach we’re going to give them,” he said.
Mr. Warner said he is ready to appoint some Republicans to his Cabinet and other positions in his administration, a move he says will end the bickering that deadlocked the legislature earlier this year and prevented lawmakers from amending the state budget.
“You will see the most bipartisan administration in Virginia history,” Mr. Warner said.
Gov. James S. Gilmore III did not have any Democrats serve as secretaries in his Cabinet. However, the Republican governor sought out one state senator and one state delegate both Democrats from conservative districts to join his administration. Republicans went on to win the vacated seats.
Mr. Warner said that shortly after winning the election, he spoke with House and Senate Republican leaders, who he said pledged their support for bipartisanship.
“The bottom line is, the time for campaigning is over. It’s time for governing,” he said.
Mr. Warner, who will be sworn in as governor in January, says he takes office Jan. 12; who’s right? didn’t waste any time moving forward toward the governorship yesterday. The only break he did take was to spend some time with his family, who stayed with him in Richmond, his staff members said.
He announced the first members of his transition team, which so far includes two Republicans, Jim and Barbara Ukrop, who own a chain of grocery stores in the Richmond area and who previously donated money to the state Republican Party. The list also has women and blacks.
Former U.S. Rep. L.F. Payne will serve as his transition-team chairman, and former Virginia Commonwealth University Provost Grace E. Harris will be vice chairman.
The transition director is former state Transportation Secretary John Milliken, who helped Mr. Warner put together his transportation plan during the campaign.
Other members include Jane Kusiak, former director of the state’s joint committee on health care, who will act as the transition team’s deputy director. Actors Tim and Daphne Reid and the Ukrops will serve on Mr. Warner’s inaugural committee.
Mr. Warner also prepared to accompany Mr. Gilmore to New York today for an annual visit with top business leaders who own facilities in Virginia.
Yesterday, Mr. Gilmore promised to work with Mr. Warner and his team for a smooth transition. The Republican governor said he named his deputy chief of staff, John Mahone, to oversee transition activities for the administration.
Mr. Mahone met with two of Mr. Warner’s officials early yesterday to talk about the transition. Mr. Gilmore has set aside room for Mr. Warner’s team to operate in the Virginia Retirement System’s office building in Richmond.
Throughout his campaign, Mr. Warner had said he couldn’t commit to some policies, particularly what he will do with the fifth and final phase of the elimination of the car tax, which is due to end next year.
Yesterday, Mr. Warner said he looks forward to getting a briefing on the economy from the Gilmore administration, and hasn’t decided how he’ll approach the looming revenue shortfall.
“Since about 11 o’clock last night and 11 o’clock this morning, I haven’t had a chance to take a look at the books,” he joked.
Besides the state’s economic downturn, Mr. Warner’s big challenge will be working with a Republican-controlled House of Delegates.
With Tuesday’s election, Republicans control 64 seats in the 100-member House, compared with 52 last session.
However, many House Republicans said they look forward to working with Mr. Warner, but only if the Democratic governor-elect will work with them.
“Mr. Warner will be the governor, and we will have to work with him,” said House Speaker S. Vance Wilkins Jr., Amherst Republican.
House Majority Leader H. Morgan Griffith echoed Mr. Warner’s comments about bipartisanship.
“We’re ready to work with him,” said Mr. Griffith, of Salem. “The people elected the governor and they also elected the Republicans to the House. That means that the people want us to work together.”
Stephen Dinan reported from Richmond.

Copyright © 2021 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

Please read our comment policy before commenting.

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide