Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell was named the chairman of the Republican Governors Association two days after Texas Gov. Rick Perry announced his intent to run for president.
“I look forward to working with my fellow Republican governors to expand our majority and ensure the RGA remains the most effective political committee in the nation,” McDonnell said in a statement issued by the RGA.
By taking the helm, McDonnell will elevate his political power as he travels across the country to support Republican gubernatorial candidates. There are currently 29 Republican governors.
“The RGA is in position to have unprecedented impact this election cycle,” McDonnell said.
McDonnell has also often been mentioned as a possible running mate in the 2012 presidential election, and the new role will likely fuel more speculation that the popular governor could be a VP candidate.
At an event last month in Virginia Beach, Mitt Romney mentioned McDonnell as someone he’d have on his short list for a VP, according to conservative site briefingdrift.com.
McDonnell recently spoke with Politico about the possibility of being a running mate.
“I’d be very interested. It is a swing state. I’m not asking for the call, I’m not looking for the call. As I’ve said many times, I’ve got the best job in America,” he told the paper, adding, “We’ll see. It’s going to be seven, eight, nine months before any of these decisions are made.”
Aside from being considered a rising star in the GOP, McDonnell also maintains a high popularity in Virginia. A recent poll by the Quinnipiac University found that 55 percent of voters polled viewed him favorably; only 26 percent disapproved of the job he is doing.
McDonnell’s new role as the head of the RGA also brings more political power to the Washington region. His counterpart to the north, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley currently serves as the chair of the Democratic Governors Association.