What to expect if Terry McAuliffe becomes governor - WSLS 10 NBC in Roanoke/Lynchburg Va

What to expect if Terry McAuliffe becomes governor

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ROANOKE -

We're only five days away from electing a new governor.

So we want you to know where the candidates stand on key issues before you step into that voting booth.

After focusing on Republican Ken Cuccinelli on Wednesday, we're now taking a closer look at Democrat Terry McAuliffe.

"I want to be a pragmatic governor who operates in the mainstream," he said.

McAuliffe is best known for working in the Clinton White House, although he has never held elected office.

He's pushing several issues, none bigger than the expansion of Medicaid through the Affordable Care Act.

"When we know that 400,000 Virginians could gain healthcare coverage by accepting our Medicaid expansion, we must act," McAuliffe told a crowd of 400 during a rally with former President Clinton in Roanoke on Wednesday.

McAuliffe said this would result in a windfall for Virginia's economy.

In fact, his plan to spend more money on education is built around that added money.

"It does free up about $500 million in the first four years from the General Fund that I want to use on my priorities like pre-kindergarten, early childhood development, teacher pay," he said.

We asked if the success of a Governor McAuliffe is tied to Medicaid expansion.

"I think we're going to have so many issues," he said. "I don't think in fairness to the myriad of issues we're facing. My focus has been since day 1 jobs, economic development, diversifying the economy."

There aren't many issues McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli agree on, but one of them is there dislike of the Business Professional Occupation Licensing tax, better known as BPOL.

Both candidates have tread carefully on the subject, since any reduction could cost local governments and likely taxpayers millions.

McAuliffe said any change will be decided on the local level.

"This is totally optional at the local level," he said. "If they want to keep what they have that's fine. I just think it's important to provide some opportunities for what I say, more tools in the toolbox."

We also tackled coal plants. In 2009 McAuliffe offered little hope for Virginia coal, saying he never wanted another coal plant built during a primary debate.

Since then his position has changed.

"My emphasis from day one as it relates to the coal fields is to protect the jobs that we have," he said.

Although McAuliffe said new energy jobs are the future of Virginia's economy.

"We've got to be thinking 5, 10, 15 years down the road."

If elected, the real test could come early on for McAuliffe.

He will likely have to work across the isle to accomplish much of his agenda.

"The day after I get elected I'm going to proceed to meet with every single Republican and Democratic legislator," he said. "I'm going to really put my hand out."

A hand he hopes Republicans will also extend if he's elected governor on Tuesday.

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