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Virginia Politics
Posted at 01:12 PM ET, 03/12/2012

As naming rights deal for roads, bridges clears General Assembly, mock corporate sponsorships sprout on senators’ desks

On the last day of the General Assembly, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R)’s big transportation bill got boiled down to a plan to sell naming rights to roads and bridges. Time will tell if that brings in big bucks. But it has already inspired senators to sell naming rights to their desks.


Virginia state senators known collectively a the "raucous caucus": Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania), front left, Thomas A. Garrett (R-Louisa), front right, and from left in back row, Ryan McDougle (R-Hanover), William M. Stanley (R-Franklin) and Jeffrey L. McWaters (R-Virginia Beach), decorated their desks with corporate sponsor signs in a nod to Gov. Robert F. McDonnell's plan to sell naming rights to roads and bridges. (Laura Vozzella - Washington Post)

While the Senate stood in recess Saturday night after the vote, one Republican got busy with marker and paper, making corporate sponsorship signs for the chamber’s polished wooden desks.

“This desk sponsored by Smith & Wesson,” read one sign.

Placards for Chick-fil-A, Nike, McDonald’s, Virginia wine, the U.S. Army and more appeared before sine die.

Senators embraced the corporate signs, even if they didn’t like the real naming-rights deal. Sen. Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) proudly showed off his — “This desk sponsored by pay-day lending,” it read — even though he’d complained that the road-and-bridge scheme would dishonor deceased state troopers for which many bridges are currently named, and lead to commercialization in other areas of the commonwealth.

“You will see the Burger King High School, mark my words,” Saslaw said.

Sen. Dave Marsden (D-Burke) made a similar warning: “Are we going to look up at this skylight one day and see ‘Exxon’ because we’ve sold the naming rights to our chamber?”

During a recess, an abortion-rights senator who'd opposed a transvaginal ultrasound bill was heard telling senators who'd supported it that he’d shell out to christen something “Transvaginal Tunnel.”

The senator who drew the corporate signs asked not to be identified, so I will say only that he is part of a group of reliable Republican cut-ups known as the “raucous caucus.” It’s not fair to single him out for last-day-of-session hijinks. Richmond’s upper chamber was exhausted to the point of punchy during its final, marathon session.

One normally well-behaved legislator spiked another’s drink with Tabasco sauce. Another lobbed a football in the chamber. (They were in recess when he threw it, but still!)

By  |  01:12 PM ET, 03/12/2012

 
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