Governor Set to Break Record Number of Vetoes. Here's Whose Record He's Breaking

Mar 8, 2017


Former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore gestures as he addresses the Virginia State Republican Convention in Harrisonburg, Va.,
Credit Steve Helber / AP

In the next few weeks, Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe is about to break a record — he’ll be vetoing more bills than any other governor in Virginia history. Michael Pope has this look at the governor who held the record until now. 


Republican Governor Jim Gilmore currently has the all-time record for vetoes. It’s a record he didn’t even know he had until recently, and not particularly one he wants to champion.


“It ain’t a basketball game," says Governor Gilmore, who was in the Executive Mansion from 1998 to 2002. “This is not won and lost record in games. This is not points scored. This is not that kind of a record. Vetoes are strictly there for a governor to help shape public policy, particularly relative to the legislation sent to him. If you have a lot of stuff to do there are going to be more vetoes.”


One curious part about that record is that Gilmore - a Republican - worked with a Republican-controlled General Assembly. So how did he end up with the record for vetoes?  


“The real balance of power in Virginia in those days was held by a group of Republican Senate moderates who sometimes worked with Democrats, particularly if the governor — as Governor Gilmore often did — tried to make cuts that were too severe in the minds of the Republican lawmakers," explains Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington.


These days, Farnsworth says, all those moderate Republicans are gone, which is why the current governor is about to take the all-time record for vetoes.