- The Washington Times - Monday, November 25, 2002

RICHMOND (AP) Gov. Mark R. Warner will push for a constitutional amendment repealing the law the prohibits Virginia's governors from seeking re-election, said a report published yesterday.
Mr. Warner has asked Democratic legislators to drop their opposition to the idea and will make a major push next month toward getting the amendment on the ballot.
He also may enlist the support of former governors to his cause, aides said.
In addition, several prominent state businessmen said they would form a steering committee by year's end to lobby to have the one-term limit repealed.
"It's time," said Richard L. Sharp, chairman of Richmond-based CarMax Group and a major contributor to Republican campaigns. "By the time you have governors hitting their best stride, they're in lame-duck situation."
Virginia is the only state in the nation where governors are prohibited by law from serving consecutive terms. Former Gov. Mills E. Godwin Jr. served two terms nonconsecutively, first as a Democrat from 1966 to 1970, then as a Republican from 1974 to 1978.
If the change is made, it wouldn't affect Mr. Warner, who leaves office in January 2006. Aides to the governor said they would like to see an amendment passed in time for the 2009 gubernatorial race.
Amending the state constitution to repeal the term-limit law has been before the General Assembly before. Both the House and Senate passed a repeal bill in 1984, but it failed in the following year's legislative session and didn't get on the ballot.
The Senate again passed a bill in 1995, but the measure was voted down in the House, which generally has been opposed to the idea.
Legislation proposing constitutional amendments must be passed by the General Assembly in successive sessions before it can be put before voters in a statewide referendum.
Delegate Harry R. Purkey, Virginia Beach Republican, said the decision to change the law makes sense, given the financial problems the state is experiencing. Virginia is facing a budget shortfall of more than $1.5 billion, which has prompted the governor to order massive cuts in the spending of state agencies and state-funded colleges and universities.
"Having the possibility of a two-term executive would help us weather this storm," Mr. Purkey said.
The idea also has the support of Mr. Warner's Commission on Efficiency and Effectiveness, chaired by former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder, a Democrat.
House Speaker William J. Howell, Stafford Republican, said the bill could make it on the floor this legislative session. "It's not going to be my crusade, but this year may be propitious because, for the first time, the business community is interested," Mr. Howell said.
The governor's proposal was first reported by The Washington Post.


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