VIRGINIA GOV. Bob McDonnell’s decision this week to restore the voting rights of non-violent felons returned to society is already different things to different people. It’s a sign of a welcome and surprising centrism from the leader of the state called “the cradle of the Confederacy.” It’s one of the most politically counter-intuitive moves from a Republican governor in a southern state in a long time.
Mostly, it’s an uncharacteristically bold conservative reach for the center — and for minority voters — in a state apparently turning its back on some of its corrosive past. It also could be McDonnell’s first dramatic step onto the national stage, positioning him optically as someone with vision and reach enough to be a possible presidential contender in 2016.
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