McDonnell repays loans, but will it mend his image?

Posted at 4:36 PM, Jul 26, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-26 16:36:45-04

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) -- Earlier this month a Quinnipiac poll showed Governor Bob McDonnell's job approval rating slipping.  In fact it has reached an all time low with a 46 percent approval rating.

CBS 6 political analyst Dr. Bob Holsworth said the controversy surrounding several loans appear to have taken its toll with Virginia voters.  Earlier this week, McDonnell announced he repaid more than $120 thousand in loans, but Holsworth said it may be too little, too late.

The governor found himself facing scrutiny following several financial dealings with local businessman Jonnie Williams, Sr. of Star Scientific.  There were allegations Williams gave McDonnell thousands of dollars in gifts and loans.  But the governor said those loans have been paid back in full.  McDonnell also apologized for the embarrassment it caused.

After 37 years in public service,  Holsworth said the recent controversy may hurt the governor's chances of ever seeking higher office.  McDonnell was once considered a possible 2016 Republican presidential candidate.

"Up until a few months ago his approval rating in Virginia was sky high. His approval rating in fact over the last four years has been as high as almost any governor in the country," Holsworth said.  "So he has a great reputation inside Virginia, a great reputation nationally.  This scandal has tarnished it in some ways indelibly.  We'll have to see if he can recover."

Holsworth added that the governor is going to have to focus now on regaining the trust from Virginians.  And whether or not he can mend his reputation, remains to be seen as he only has a few months left in office.

"There are going to have to be some steps the governor takes himself personally," Holsworth said.  "Putting himself out in front of people, out in front of the media, to give them the kind of accounting I think most Virginians eventually want to have."

Even after repaying the loans, McDonnell could still be looked at by state and federal investigators.