Earlier tonight at Virginia Beach Sheriff Ken Stolle's annual chili cook-off, one of session's most anticipated events — where sportsmen and law enforcement personnel provide more than a dozen types of chili ranging from "Scorpion" to moose and buffalo and even vegetarian; where legislators, staff, lobbyists, public safety, journalists and politicos of all stripes hang out for food, drink, dessert and a great time — Governor Terry McAuliffe made a very substantial visit. He just didn't pop in to make an appearance.
The governor was as you'd expect from a man whose book was entitled What A Party: jovial, acommodating and a great room worker. There wasn't a chili he didn't try nor a hand he didn't shake, and he stayed around to present the awards to the winning entries with a good ol' boy affectation that would wow an Old Dominion native.
I even got face time with His Excellency (yes, in the commonwealth, that is one of the governor's titles). He probably didn't remember our first meeting, what became a very renown event in 2009. (I had to decide whether to use my time getting a picture with him or pitching my pet project.) I'm in a very bipartisan mood these days (helped get this passed earlier today) so I told him of a great economic development idea and he eagerly asked me to proceed.
I told him I knew he was a soccer fan because I saw him at the 2010 World Cup at the U.S. games. I said we need to recruit a Major League Soccer team to Virginia. He said it was a great idea because, "We don't have anything here." I told him D.C. United should be easy pickins' because the D.C. government has jerked the team around for years on a stadium. We just need to get them to move across the river.
Then the conversation got tricky. He asked if I had a card. Great news! He really is interested! It became tricky because I didn't know if I should give him my Family Foundation card — which would've been a hoot (you really need to follow the above link about that first meeting we had) — or my personal card. I did the latter. I pulled out a pen to write "soccer" on the back but he said he was going to do just that. He took my pen, wrote "soccer" on the back, returned my pen and gave my card to an aide. All in all, supremely personable and fun. But deal makers — good ones — usually are.
Now, I'm expecting a call to head up the Governor's Commission To Bring MLS To Virginia. (Until he reads this.)
It is a testament to his room working skills that he was able to effectively glad hand a room of law enforcement (which endorsed his opponent) and dozens of sportsmen sporting NRA stickers (who really supported his opponent). It was quite a night and there are more pics and anecdotes to come.
Virginia chili and Major League Soccer (not to mention the NRA). The new governor is comfortable in just about any situation.