The AP has this item about Virginia’s new governor-elect — only the second Catholic one in the commonwealth’s history:
The new Republican governor-elect of Virginia brings to the office firmly conservative views that took root in the suburban, middle-class Irish Catholic home of his youth.
McDonnell was hardly a rebel — childhood chums recall him as a straight-arrow type. As a teen, he scored the only touchdown Bishop Ireton High School could muster against the undefeated 1971 T.C. Williams High football team immortalized in the movie “Remember the Titans.”
McDonnell’s Catholicism drew him to Notre Dame University on a ROTC scholarship. But it was back home where he met Maureen Gardner, a Washington Redskins cheerleader who became his wife and mother of their three daughters and twin sons.
After college, McDonnell was an Army officer in Europe, then worked as an executive for a major hospital supply firm, moving as far west as Kansas City before settling his family in Virginia Beach.
Eyeing a career in law and politics, McDonnell juggled Army reserve duties, a part-time newspaper advertising sales job, and raising a growing family with studying for a combined law and master’s degree in public policy at CBN University. The school, now Regent University, was established by Christian Coalition founder and religious broadcaster Pat Robertson.
At age 34, he wrote a 93-page thesis for his graduate degree that called working women a detriment to society and argued that government was justified in discriminating against gays and unmarried “cohabitators” to shield traditional families.
Twenty years later, after a state legislative career spent advancing tough penalties for crimes and curbs on abortion, then a term as state attorney general, the thesis became the most potent issue against McDonnell in the race for governor. Still, he never trailed in polling behind Democratic state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, whom he narrowly defeated in the 2005 attorney general’s race.
McDonnell, 55, dismissed the thesis as a long-ago academic exercise. He said raising three daughters, one of whom was an Army platoon leader in Iraq, had made him an admirer of career women.