After eight years with a Democratic governor, Virginia is now firmly back in the red. Voters in the state elected former Attorney General Bob McDonnell on Nov. 3, beating State Senator Creigh Deeds 59% to 41%. McDonnell won over voters who just a year ago voted for Barack Obama, the first time the state had supported a Democratic presidential candidate since the 1960s. The off-year election is considered a bellwether for voter attitudes towards the President and his policies, and the results are not encouraging for Obama: McDonnell, 55, entered election day with a double-digit lead. McDonnell, who campaigned on a platform of job creation and low taxes, may have even greater things ahead: The Virginian-Pilot newspaper has gone as far as to put him on a short list of vice presidential candidates for 2012.
Born June 15, 1954 in Philadelphia, the oldest of five children in a Democratic Irish Catholic family. His mother worked at Mount Vernon, the historic home of George Washington; his father was an Air Force officer.
Has been married 32 years to Maureen McDonnell and has five children of his own; his oldest daughter Jeanine is an Iraq war veteran.
Served 21 years in the U.S. Army and reserves, retiring as a lieutenant colonel in 1997.
Graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1976 with a degree in business management; While serving in Germany, he earned a Masters of Science in Business Administration (MSBA) at Boston University. He later received a law degree and master's degree in public policy from Regent University in Virginia Beach.
Was the business manager for American Hospital Supply Corporation, a a Fortune 500 health care company from 1981 to 1985.
Interned on Capitol Hill with the House Republican Policy Committee while attending law school. After graduating in 1989, began work as a prosecutor in Virginia Beach.
Entered Virginia's legislature, the General Assembly, in 1992 as a member of the Virginia House of Delegates. He served a total of 14 years.
The 2009 election is the second time McDonnell and Deeds have faced off: McDonnell ran against and defeated the Democrat by just 360 votes in the 2005 election for state Attorney General.
As attorney General, McDonnell won all nine cases argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, from 2006 to early 2009, when he left to pursue his gubernatorial bid.
In August 2009, The Washington Post unearthed a graduate thesis he wrote in 1989 while at Regent University that showed the younger McDonnell as far more conservative on social issues than his campaign positions indicated. The 93-page thesis, titled The Republican Party's Vision for the Family: The Compelling Issue of the Decade includes a section in which he describes feminists and working women as "detrimental" to family values, and recommending that government policy favor married couples over "cohabitators, homosexuals or fornicators." McDonnell defended his paper, saying the work wasn't reflective of his views today.
"My promise to you as governor is to strengthen the free-enterprise system, to create more jobs and opportunity so that every Virginian can use their God-given talents to pursue the American dream and liberty here in this great commonwealth."
At a rally shortly after winner the governor's race (Washington Post, Nov. 3, 2009)
"I have made the national issues an issue in this race."
To a CNN reporter, on how Virginia's governor race signifies national politics; his campaign attempted to nationalize the race by linking Deeds to a Democratic Congress (CNN, Oct. 25, 2009)
"Virginians will judge me on my 18-year record as a legislator and Attorney General and the specific plans I have laid out for our future not on a decades-old academic paper I wrote as a student during the Reagan era and haven't thought about in years. Like everybody, my views on many issues have changed as I have gotten older."
In a public statement that ran in several newspapers in August, in response to the Post's story on his controversial thesis attacking feminists, homosexuals and unmarried couples he wrote as a 34-year-old student at Regent University
"For me to have my daughter over in Iraq, flying around in a Blackhawk, dodging bullets in a convoy when we were running against each other in 2005, and for my daughters to be encouraged by me to gain master's degrees for him to suggest that I somehow don't support women in the workplace is insulting."
In response to attacks by his Democratic opponent, Creigh Deeds, on his controversial thesis (ABC News, Aug. 31, 2009)
"I'm a conservative. I've never pretended to be anything else. I believe in limited government and keeping taxes and regulation and litigation low. I believe the traditional values that have been broadly embraced by our society are good."
Explaining his platform in the runup to the Nov. 3 elections (Virginian Pilot, Oct. 17, 2009)
"[Virginia is] also a place where we see that when a Republican, like Bob McDonnell, runs on positive, common-sense conservative ideas, we can win tough elections.
Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican National Committee, who campaigned for McDonnell, on his victory (New York Times, Nov. 3, 2009)
"I don't know when Bob actually became a Republican. I don't know if he ever wasn't one."
Eileen Reinaman, McDonnell's younger sister, on his political leanings (Virginian-Pilot, Oct. 17, 2009)
"There is a just a massive effort underway to rebrand Bob McDonnell, and his whole legislative career speaks otherwise. The voters have a right to know who these candidates really are."
Former Virginia delegate Barnie K. Day, who supports Deeds, on McDonnell's conservative record.(Washington Post, Aug. 30, 2009)
"The thesis is a serious problem for me as a feminist and someone who supports gay rights. Definitely I feel like he's a reactionary."
Ann Merchant, a Democrat who voted for Deeds, on McDonnell's controversial thesis (Washington Post, Nov. 3, 2009)
"Republicans are right to put their hopes in McDonnell, whose conservative credentials paired with his streak of practicality have served him well over a long and productive life."
Editorial (Virginian-Pilot, March 26, 2008)
"You judge a man by his record, not by his thesis. He's done right."
Pat Echols, 84-year-old voter who served in the state senate in the 1960s (Washington Post, Nov. 3, 2009)