What to expect at governor’s inauguration this weekend
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Richmond has a weekend full of pomp and circumstance ahead as Gov. Terry McAuliffe hands over the reins to fellow Democrat Ralph Northam.
Northam will be sworn as the 73rd governor of the Commonwealth during an outdoor ceremony at Capitol Square on Saturday. Other celebratory events are planned Friday through Sunday.
What to expect:
Northam, a pediatric neurologist and former Army doctor who’s served as Virginia’s lieutenant governor for the past four years, will take the oath of office during a ceremony that starts at noon Saturday.
Retired Judge Glen Tyler, a Northam family friend, will administer the oath, as he did at Northam’s swearing-in as lieutenant governor in 2014.
Over 4,000 people are expected in the grandstands outside the Capitol for the ceremony.
The event is free and open to the public, but the ticketing process has closed. WCVE will be airing it on TV and livestreaming it online.
Attorney General Mark Herring and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax also will take their oaths on Saturday. They and Northam took part in a walkthrough on Friday with General Assembly staff.
On Friday evening, there’s a ticketed reception taking place at three downtown restaurants.
Saturday will kick off with a prayer breakfast at historic St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.
Immediately after the swearing-in ceremony, a parade led by Virginia National Guard soldiers and airmen will circle around Capitol Square.
A total of 26 groups are taking part, including a southwest Virginia fiddlers group, James Madison University’s marching band, the Virginia Military Institute Corps of Cadets, and even Deborah Pratt, who has represented the United States four times in the Oyster Shucking World Championships, according to a news release.
An open house will then take place at the Executive Mansion from 2 to 4 p.m., followed by a ticketed black-tie inaugural ball later in the evening at Main Street Station, the train depot that’s one of Richmond’s most visible landmarks.
On Sunday, first lady Pam Northam will host a brunch at The Jefferson Hotel, where she will “offer a glimpse of her work over the next four years,” according to Northam’s inaugural committee.
WHO’S PAYING FOR THIS?
Northam called for sweeping campaign finance reforms during his campaign — including a ban on donations from corporations and businesses, something he reiterated his support for at a news conference this week.
But when it comes to fundraising for the inaugural festivities, he has accepted tens of thousands of dollars from corporations and special interest groups with business before the state.
His inaugural committee has reported raising over $1.9 million as of Friday, according to the Virginia Public Access Project, a nonpartisan money-in-politics tracker.
That includes a $50,000 donation from Dominion Energy. Other donors include EQT Corp., a partner in the controversial Mountain Valley Pipeline, which chipped in $25,000. Atlanta-based Southern Company Gas, one of Dominion’s partners in the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, also gave $25,000.
The inaugural committee is a 501c4, meaning that the funds raised cannot be used for political purposes, spokeswoman Christina Freundlich said.
“The generosity of Virginian people and businesses allows the Governor-elect to focus on his top priority - preparing to begin his administration on January 13,” she said in an emailed statement.
Northam has promised to both champion progressive causes and find bipartisan agreement with the General Assembly, where Republicans control both chambers by thin margins.
In a joint press conference with McAuliffe earlier this week, he outlined his priorities for this legislation session, including Medicaid expansion, the implementation of universal background checks for gun buyers, expanding absentee voting and banning the use of campaign funds for personal use.
Associated Press writer Alan Suderman and photographer Steve Helber contributed to this report.