Ten days out from his inauguration as governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam says he is working on an ambitious legislative agenda.
"I think the advantage I have coming in as 73rd governor is that I've been here for 10 years. I have relationships with people on both sides of aisle. They know how I like to do things," Northam told News4 in his first broadcast interview of the new year.
An Eastern Shore native with the accent to match, Northam's low-key style is a sharp contrast to his energetic predecessor, Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
Northam insisted his landslide victory -- fueled by anger towards President Trump -- is a mandate for his top legislative priority: Medicaid expansion.
"No family in Virginia should be one medical illness away from financial demise so, Medicaid expansion is very important and I will do everything I can to make that happen," Northam said.
He said dedicated funding for Metro is another priority.
Gun violence is also on the top of his list. Northam said more Virginians die from gunshot injuries than car crashes.
"Universal background checks will be, I think, on the table for discussion. We also need to talk about weapons of war. Do we need weapons of war on our streets, in our society in Virginia?"
Northam is confident a flood of Democratic newcomers to the House of Delegates will encourage bipartisan cooperation.
"We're in such a -- have a unique opportunity with the makeup of the legislature this year to really bring people from both sides of the aisle and get some good things done and do what's in the best interest of Virginia," he said.