It was a huge political victory for Governor Bob McDonnell (R) and he wants to make sure everyone knows about it.
Recently ads like the one below have been popping up on facebook and other social media sites designed to encourage people to "stand" with the Governor in the wake of the historic General Assembly session.
McDonnell has a pretty significant social media presence, with more than 56 thousand "likes" on facebook and more thans 32 thousand followers on twitter. Posting something like this on those sites alone would reach to a pretty wide audience, but McDonnell's political arm "Opportunity Virginia" has taken it a step further. They are paying for ads to promote his success in getting the transportation compromise passed.
"We are using every means of communication by which to get out the news about the passage of this legislation and the positive impact it will have on job creation and quality of life in Virginia," said E. Alex Stanley, Opportunity Virginia's director.
Stanley called the campaign "major" but wouldn't reveal specifics about how much they are spending or if we could see more of it in the future. She said an accomplishment like this is something all Virginians need to know about.
"It has been 27 years since the General Assembly passed a major transportation funding plan," she said. "That failure has cost Virginians thousands of dollars in wasted time and gas and hurt Virginia's ability to attract new job-creating companies."
While there is no doubt that McDonnell wants to take a victory lap for this major accomplishment there could also be some damage control behind this project. In the wake of the bill's bi-partisan passage there has been some blow back from both the left and the right. Both sides have mounted campaigns to try and convince the governor to veto some or all of the package.
An on line petition launched this week by two Northern Virginia Democrats is designed to encourage the governor to veto the $100 fee for drivers of hybrid cars. At last check the petition had more than 4,000 signatures.
While the push back from Democrats is one thing, what McDonnell may not have expected was the backlash from his own party. Prominent national voices like Grover Norquist, Rush Limbaugh and Mark Levin have been critical of McDonnell's decision to compromise with legislative Democrats and allow tax increases.
In Virginia, prominent conservatives like Tea Party leader and one time U.S. Senate candidate Jamie Radtke have been on the attack. Radtke started a Facebook group that mocks McDonnell, Speaker William Howell and Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment. The group has just under two thousand "likes" and is frequently posting about the problems conservatives have with the bill.
While this campaign may show a concern by McDonnell that he is losing the support of his base, the man himself seems confident that he made the right decision by breaking his campaign pledge to not raise taxes to fund transportation. While talking to reporters during this week's National Governor's Association meetings, the governor admitted that it wasn't his ideal situation, but in his mind it is what had to be done.
"I don’t like it, this is not my first choice," McDonnell said according to Politico. "But we don’t have another solution. So he signed the bill.” The "he" McDonnell is referring to is Ronald Reagan who had a similar challenge during his administration when it came to a choice on repairing the national highway system.
It is too early to tell if this decision will lead to McDonnell being credited for his pragmatism or discredited for breaking a promise. One thing is for sure, he is ready to base the legacy of his governorship on this tough call.