In a 15-minute speech to a crowd of Democrats who had been waiting months for this moment, McAuliffe thanked his family, staff and the voters for giving him the office he had been running for essentially nonstop for roughly five years.
McAuliffe repeatedly pledged to work in bipartisan, pragmatic fashion, praising the examples set by the last two Democratic governors – current Sens. Mark Warner and Timothy M. Kaine – as well as Gov. Robert McDonnell (R), whose sweeping transportation package McAuliffe backed.
“To the hundreds of thousands of supporters of Ken Cuccinelli and Mr. Sarvis,” he said, “I understand that emotions are raw. I have been there, I get it. So while I promise you tonight that I will be a governor for all Virginians … I expect you to hold me to my pledge.”
McAuliffe praised Cuccinelli for his public service and for the sacrifice he made to run for office.
Stressing the need for Virginians to come together, McAuliffe quoted Virginia hero Thomas Jefferson – who won the presidency after a contentious 1800 election – for saying “every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle.”
Though he acknowledged he and Cuccinelli had “some very big differences on some very big issues,” McAuliffe said: “I bet every single person in Virginia is glad the TV ads are now over.”
McAuliffe said he hoped “to make Virginia a model for pragmatic leadership … and job creation.” He added that he hoped to boost the commonwealth’s schools and attract “the best and brightest scientists and innovators regardless of race, gender, religion or who you love.”
And McAuliffe said he would “work hard to reach out to every single Republican in the General Assembly.”