Bob McDonnell's long 2012

A year ago, it looked like McDonnell might spend this year on a glide path to the No. 2 slot on Mitt Romney’s ticket. That was before he spent the past few months grappling with a series of state-level crises: a leadership battle at the University of Virginia, a destructive storm that knocked out power for millions in the Washington area and — most significantly — an attempt by conservative legislators to mandate an invasive ultrasound procedure for women seeking abortions.

“McDonnell is back down to a minimal majority in job approval. Transvaginal ultrasounds and other controversial social issues have hurt him. … Maybe Romney puts [McDonnell] into the Cabinet,” mused UVA political scientist Larry Sabato, who spoke out prominently in the debate over the university presidency. “Otherwise, I don’t see much for him. He can’t beat Warner in ’14, the other Senate seat won’t be available until 2018, there’s already a line to run for governor in ’17 and I can’t see McDonnell being a very strong candidate for president in ’16 or ’20.”

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