Andrews was vain and quick-tempered, but also principled,
brilliant and a undisputed master of the Virginia
state budget. His legend will live long after he's gone.
friends and colleagues unveiled the portrait of a
gentleman in Richmond
the other day ó a gentleman who, en route to
legendom, became a legislative giant. And, no, Iím not talking about Vance
Wilkinsí mug in the House chamber at the Capitol.
first encounter with Hunter Andrews was years and
years ago. I
had written a profile of Ed Willey, the Genghis Kahn
of Senate Finance whom Hunter succeeded as chairman
in 1986, and Hunter took exception to one or two of
the characterizations I used.
I say exception? He
was in a spittle-flecking rage.
His eyes crystallized.
The color drained from his face.
The skin on his cheek-bones tightened.
His narrow nose narrowed.
then he got mad.
of course, from that moment on, I was hooked.
like Hunterís is a rare, rare thing anywhere ó
but especially in politics. (I later wrote a profile of him that was
widely published, at least here in Virginia,
and he still reminds me of that ó with, I think,
was thin-skinned and prickly as all get-out ó and
people loved and admired him for his honesty.
I did ó and still do.
didnít have a short fuse.
Hunter didnít have a fuse.
Hunter had an undeveloped nub where fuses
went to the Senate in 1964 and served 32 years ó
the last 10 as chairman of Senate Finance.
fact will seem redundant to many of you, but it will
be illuminating to others. In the House of Delegates, one committee
raises all the state money and another spends it. In the Senate the same committee does both.
Every nickel raised and spent by state
is raised and spent only with the blessing of the
chairman of Senate Finance.
Hunter know state finances?
curiosity was insatiable and multi-directional.
Was he smart? How
many people do you know whose intellect will make
the lights flicker?
personal, first-hand knowledge does not go past Ed
Willey, who went to the Senate in 1952, the year I
was born. (He
stayed 34 years). But
I can say with some plausibility, I think, that for
the last half-century or so it has been like this in
cannot understand Hunter Andrews without some
understanding of Ed Willey. You cannot understand John Chichester, the
current Finance chairman, without some understanding
of Hunter Andrews. You
will not be able to understand William Wampler, who
most likely will follow Chichester
in the chairmanship, without some understanding of Chichester.
just the way it works.
Such is the mentoring process that gives the
Senate Finance Committee continuity worth its weight
and Willey were Democrats; Chichester
and Wampler, of course, are Republicans ó but, always,
they were, and have been, Virginians first.
unveiling of Hunterís portrait on the 10th
floor of the General Assembly Building (GAB), the
Senate Finance Committee kingdom, didnít get the
press that the Wilkins portrait got across capitol
square, but I will wager you on this point:
will hang a lot longer.
friends and admirers ó chief among them former
Senator Elmon Gray ó paid for the portrait and
Virginian Loryn Brazier painted it.
at a University of Virginia commencement in 1997,
Andrews told the graduates: ďTo our detriment, we
live in an era when political expediency has taken
the place of true leadership, when principles are
flexible, truth is relative, and forthright candor
in public life is scarce.Ē
was not always the case here in Virginia.
If you want to see what principle and truth
and candor used to look like, his portrait is
hanging on the 10th floor of the GAB. Thereís no rush.
It is going to be there a long, long time.
October 4, 2004