McDonnell, the governor, has acknowledged the importance of federal government, noting that stimulus funds did help Virginia's economy, but he maintains it was only a short-term benefit.
NEW ECONOMIC WORRIES
The recession may be over, but a new financial threat looms.
It's sequestration, the automatic across-the-board cuts that will take place if Congress doesn't reach a budget agreement soon. About half, or $56.7 billion, would come in defense, according to a report by Fuller, of George Mason and Chmura Economics & Analytics.
It's a topic Romney dwells on when campaigning in military communities, criticizing the president for the potential cuts, though they were agreed to under a deal between Obama and Republican leaders in Congress.
If the cuts proceed, they could result in the loss of more than 207,000 jobs in Virginia alone — almost two-thirds of them in defense, according to the report. Fuller says the impact would also hit retailers, car dealers and local governments.
"People are scared, extremely scared," says Johnny Garcia, CEO of SimIS, a simulation and information security company in Portsmouth. A Navy veteran, Garcia says his business already has begun adapting to the shrinking defense business, moving into health care and manufacturing.
"The defense industry — if it doesn't collapse in the next six months, it's going to take a big turn for the worse," he says." It's scary not knowing who the next president is going to be. But I don't think it really matters. We're going to be in a downward spiral the next four years."
Garcia says he's "a Democrat at heart," but is disappointed in the president, saying he believed in the "hype" about Obama in 2008 that "this was going to be something different. It wasn't. It's like getting on a roller coaster ride and it's not all that exciting when it's done. It's a dud."
He's still an undecided voter, unsure if Obama should have more time or Romney has the right ideas.
"It's all about who's going to make the difference," he adds. "That's the hard part. I don't know."
Sharon Cohen is a Chicago-based national writer for The Associated Press. She can be reached at scohen(at)ap.org
EDITOR'S NOTE _ Another in an occasional series, 'It's the Economy,' looking at the economies of battleground states.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.