Terry McAuliffe’s low-key inaugural: cash bar, few celebs

Photo by Rachael Weiner Photo by Rachael Weiner

Anyone expecting a splashy soiree to kick off the administration of newly sworn-in Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe was in for a disappointment on Saturday.

In keeping with the tone of his administration this far, the Democrat’s inaugural ball, held at VCU’s Siegel Center, was a moderate affair: the bar was cash, the food was minimal and the celebrity factor was low.

VIPs were feted in private, presumably more lavish, receptions, while reporters kept at bay, not allowed to explore the ballroom (or even go to the bathroom) without an escort. But the bands were lively, as was guest Bruce Johnson, a hotel developer and former backer of outgoing Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell. Johnson compared negotiating with McAuliffe over a role in the campaign to “dancing with a bear.”

As revelers mingled, McAuliffe came onstage around 10:15. With a hoarse voice he thanked his staff and supporters,  promised to work without sleep, and revealed that at the morning’ sprayer breakfast he prayed for the sun — which did come out, partway through his speech earlier that day.

Along with Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring, the governor and his wife shimmied to the R&B classic “Higher and Higher,” then the pair enjoyed a proper first dance to Beyonce’s “Love on Top.”

Photo by Rachel Weiner
Photo by Rachel Weiner
Rachel Weiner covers local politics for The Washington Post.

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