RICHMOND — The peaceful transfer of power in Virginia would not be complete without a prank pulled by the outgoing governor on his successor.
So it was that as newly inaugurated Gov. Ralph Northam (D) hit the sack Saturday night after his inauguration, he found something special on his pillowcase — and it was not one of those fancy hotel good-night chocolates.
An image of former governor Terry McAuliffe (D) was plastered on his pillowcase, emblazoned with one of the go-go-go ex-governor's favorite sayings: "Sleep when you're dead."
And yes, Virginia's 73rd governor spent his first night in the mansion with his head resting on the 72nd's governor's grinning mug. His wife, first lady Pam Northam, let him use her McAuliffe-covered pillow, too, opting for a plain pillowcase for herself.
"Let me show you the picture," Northam said, pulling out his cellphone after a brunch hosted by the first lady Sunday at Richmond's Jefferson Hotel.
The pillowcases are not the only reminders McAuliffe left behind.
"There are pictures of the governor all over the mansion that he left for me," Northam said. "Also, at 3 o'clock this morning, an alarm clock went off, which I have yet to find. I texted him and thanked him, and he said there was more to come."
The alarm clock trick is not a new one, but certain pranks are bound to get recycled in the only state where the governorship changes hands every four years. Departing governor Robert F. McDonnell (R) set one to go off at 4 a.m. four years ago, giving McAuliffe a jolt on his first weekend in the Executive Mansion.
Another surprise awaited the newly sworn-in McAuliffe when he got to his office: a huge stuffed bear in the private bathroom. It was no teddy bear. It was the real, taxidermied thing, poached from the office of McDonnell's natural resources secretary Doug Domenech.
On his way out of the governorship, in 2010, now-Sen. Tim Kaine (D) hid cellphones in the mansion elevator shaft and periodically called them as a trick on McDonnell. It took a few days for McDonnell's team to locate them.
And before that, now-Sen. Mark R. Warner (D) left a life-size cutout of himself in the governor's mansion shower for Kaine.