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Retiring Virginia senator drops ‘bombshell’ on McAuliffe, Medicaid expansion

A Democrat senator’s surprise resignation could resolve Virginia’s budget showdown by undercutting Gov. Terry McAuliffe’s bid to expand Medicaid.

“This is not necessarily the death knell, but the governor’s plan was rushed to the emergency room today,” said Steve Farnsworth, a political science professor at the University of Mary Washington.

The departure of Sen. Phillip Puckett, D-Tazewell, gives Republicans a 20-19 majority in the Senate. And the Capitol swirled with speculation about his reasons.

Democratic Leader Dick Saslaw, of Springfield, tamped down conspiracy theories that Republicans gave Puckett a golden parachute to leave.

“The Republicans are not authorized to make a deal. They’re as shocked as we are,” Saslaw told Watchdog.

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