Janet Kelly has worked with and for former Governor Bob McDonnell for years, a friendship and dedication that is mutual. More than a decade ago when he was planning to run for attorney general, she reached out to ask for help with a hospitality suite at the Republican Advance that was about to be held at the Homestead. During that time, she gained my respect for her dedication and hard work. That has not changed, and her loyalty to the Governor that continues to this day is something that is not often found in politics.
I have found with Bob McDonnell a dedication from many that is rare in politics where we all swim in a shark tank, where others are too eager to climb on the backs of others to reach a higher rung on the ladder of success, and if you have one or two friends (not to be confused with allies), you are fortunate.
Janet’s friendship with the Governor continued Tuesday when she testified at his sentencing trial, as reported by Rachel Weiner with the Washington Post:
Janet Kelly, former secretary of the commonwealth and McDonnell’s close friend, emphasized his work in the final year of his governorship to find homes for more than 1,000 children in foster care.
After learning about the backlog, “it took him 15 seconds to say, ‘Fix it,’ ” she recalled.
“He cares about powerful people, of course,” Kelly said. But, she said, he cared just as much about average people — waitresses and truck drivers. She recalled an annual event McDonnell created in 2007 at which lawyers compete to collect food for the hungry.
Kelly also spoke of a trip to help rebuild homes in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The governor, she said, “wanted to make sure his children … knew what it was like to suffer” and develop empathy for those who had.
That is just part of what has endeared this man to so many who now stand by his side even as many who know him only through news accounts are scathing in their comments. They should take note of the Governor’s friends who are still standing by his side.
And I remember that trip to New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina because the Governor was playing basketball after a day of working on houses and slammed into the goal post, breaking his jaw. When he showed up at the 2008 Republican National Convention in Minneapolosis-Saint Paul, his jaw was wired shut but he was still smiling and upbeat. He was always smiling and friendly and reaching out.
So many memories….