Bill Bolling Does The Smart Thing

By Joe Budzinski

Virginia Lt. Governor Bill Bolling has decided to “suspend” his quest for the GOP nomination for governor in 2013, clearing the way for Ken Cuccinelli to lead the Republican ticket in next year’s elections.

In related news, I have decided to suspend my quest for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship in 2013, clearing the way for Brad Keselowski to repeat as champion.

Bolling is by all accounts a nice guy and truly decent man, and also the candidate of the Republican establishment, who presumably looked at the newspaper the morning of November 7 and noted the respective fates of George Allen and Mitt Romney … and put two and two together.

On top of the fact that reportedly he was polling at least 30 points behind Ken Cuccinelli, Bill Bolling probably discerned the signs of the times.

To wit: There is a deprecatory adage among Republicans, of being prone to choosing the person who is “next in line” for higher office in the party hierarchy. This year, Bolling suffered the double disadvantage of a lower profile among voters and being, literally, next in line – as a result of a deal he cut with (then-candidate, now Governor) Bob McDonnell in 2009, to step aside in that year’s nomination contest in return for the presumed nomination in 2013.

On top of everything else happening within the Republican Party right now, this is the wrong time to be that guy.

Cuccinelli, who apparently got in the wrong line when they were handing out places in line, made a hash of the orderly succession of Virginia gentlemen by announcing his own candidacy for the GOP nomination. Cuccinelli’s star not only has been on a steady ascent within Virginia, but he enjoys a national stature among conservative grassroots and Tea Party activists for a variety of reasons, most notably his leadership opposing the implementation of ObamaCare.

Regardless of current R vs D polls, Bolling’s announcement is good news for the Republican ticket. It is going to save large sums of money for the general election, and provide a higher profile, for a longer period of time, for the superior campaigner. Cuccinelli will not only fire up the base during the campaign season of the next eleven months, but he is also a creative thinker at a time when tried and true election tactics are now a proven losing proposition for Republican candidates.

I, for one, expect fewer robocalls next year.

UPDATE: The first comment reminds me of a point not included in the post: Democrats undoubtedly will respond with deep concern over the general rightward drift represented by Ken Cuccinelli’s leadership on the ticket, and such concerns should be received with all appropriate seriousness and gratitude relative to the sincerity in which they are proffered. Undoubtedly, Cuccinelli will study long and hard each of the elections he has lost to Democrats in the past, for clues on how to achieve better results in the future.


  • RichmondDem says:

    “…and also the candidate of the Republican establishment, who presumably looked at the newspaper the morning of November 7 and noted the respective fates of George Allen and Mitt Romney … and put two and two together.”

    Yeah, and add to the fact that the big winners of the night were from Cooch’s end of the GOP like Senator-Elect Mourdock and Senator-Elect Aiken…oh wait, that never happened.

    Well at least Allen West won re–oh. Right. Nevermind.

  • Eric the 1/2 Troll says:

    “I, for one, expect fewer robocalls next year.”

    Except from Donny, of course.

  • Eric the 1/2 Troll says:

    “Cuccinelli will not only fire up the base…’

    Yes, but WHICH base is the question.

  • RichmondDem says:


    Just wait until the inevitable rape gaffe.

  • RichmondDem says:

    If it turns out to be Cuccinelli vs. McAuliffe, though, this will be the worst two choices of any gubernatorial race of any state since slimy criminal Spiro Agnew faced off against openly segregationist George Mahoney in 1966. I’m going to need some kind of antidepressant to get through this if that comes to pass.

  • NateDogg614 says:

    RichmondDem, you could always move to Maryland. Its a liberal paradise from what I hear….which is why so many people are moving to Virginia. 😉

  • BlackOut says:

    ND, still in denial? Or just wishful thinking?

    Just read a good quote, a Cuccinelli vs McAuliffe fight is the only fight each of them will have a chance to win, if they were against anyone else they would both lose.

  • RichmondDem says:

    “RichmondDem, you could always move to Maryland. ”

    Thanks, but I’d rather gouge my eyes out with a rusty fork than sit in Beltway traffic for any longer than five minutes. And the cost of living, especially for housing, is downright absurd.

    These are of course the same reasons I’d never live anywhere north of Stafford County in Virginia either, though.

  • NateDogg614 says:

    “Thanks, but I’d rather gouge my eyes out with a rusty fork than sit in Beltway traffic for any longer than five minutes.”

    Well, now you kinda know how I feel. This is what I find so striking — and this happens with people moving out of IL, CA, MA, etc. not just MD — they can’t stand the taxes, the regulations, the policies, and leadership or lack thereof, and they move to redder states and they KEEP VOTING FOR THE SAME KINDS OF MORONS WHO BRING ABOUT THE TAXES, POLICIES, AND REGULATIONS THAT THEY ARE MOVING AWAY FROM!!!

  • NateDogg614 says:

    “ND, still in denial? Or just wishful thinking?”

    Nope not in denial. There’s a Democrat in the WH. Leaves me POed to no end, but I’m not in denial about it. Frankly, anyone who voted for Obama and then gets laid off, well tough stuff for you! You voted for him, you live with the consequenses.

  • RichmondDem says:

    Texas and Georgia are pretty red and they have the same horrible traffic and increasingly same high cost of living. Vermont, meanwhile, is probably the most left wing state in the country and has neither. Or you could look at Portland, OR.

    You’re looking in the wrong place to where these problems come from.

  • RichmondDem says:

    Oh and why do you think Maryland is shrinking? It grew 9% last census per Wikipedia, on par with the national average.

  • Dan says:

    RichmondDem, kudos for the ancient Maryland political reference. Being an old fart with a fair knowledge of Maryland political history I can appreciate it.

    Spiro Agnew should never have advanced beyond the run of the mill corrupt Baltimore County pol that he was. Had Carlton Sickles won the Democratic nomination in 1966 Agnew would have been relegated to the obscurity he merited. Alas, Mahoney squeaked through and, as a result, the entire nation got Spiggy when Tricky Dick tabbed him for VP in 1968.

    That was my first lesson in how disastrous low voter turnout in primaries can be. Ever since then I have had contempt for those who are too damned lazy to get off their asses and vote in the primary.

  • Dan says:

    Joe, I don’t think anything will come of it, but apparently there is some talk of Bolling running as an independent for governor in 2013. I don’t see it myself, but it seems the wording of his statement is pretty carefully parsed to leave that possibility open.

    It could be interesting. Lots of folks aren’t wild about McAuliffe and think Cuccinelli is a fringe whackjob who is totally unsuited for the office. That could leave some room for a nice boring independent in a three way race.

    The other more likely and interesting development is the possibility of Tom Perriello jumping into the race for the Democratic nomination. I believe he could beat McAuliffe in the primary. And he would be strong in the general election.

    The Republican base may love Cuccinelli’s fringe views and his theatrics as AG, but the general electorate in Virginia may not be as enamored of his schtick. I recall Bob McDonnell casting himself as a moderate in 2009 and somewhat backing off his more extreme stances when running statewide. That’s not going to work for Cuccinelli. He’s been too much of a rightwing showboat. Too much material to be used in a general election campaign.

    I’m betting that if Perriellio gets in the Cooch won’t be smiling.

  • NateDogg614 says:

    And what is Perriello’s claim to fame? A 1-term Congressman who was elected by less than 1,000 votes, who ignored his constituents by voting for every major piece of legislation that the Democrats put forward, including the stimulus, cap and trade and the ACA.

  • NateDogg614 says:


    Out of curiosity, if you’re got some knowledge of Maryland’s political history. I know that Ehrlich was the last GOP governor since Agnew (although the Republicans came close in 1994), but have the Republicans EVER held a majority in the State House of Delegates or State Senate?

    As I say, just curious about that, particularly as the Dems seem to have a solid lock on things in Annapolis.

  • Anonymous says:

    2009 – 57.51% to 42.39% – Mr. Cuccinelli has proven beyond any doubt he is more than capable of winning a statewide election running on his principles and record.

  • David Dickinson says:

    Curious as to what Bolling will do next. I don’t see the Independent thing working. Wish he would have stayed at LTG.

    Next point of curiosity is whether the carpetbagger with a New York accent McAuliffe will have to face a primary challenger? Having previously lost to the electrifying Creigh Deeds, anyone with a hint of a drawl could beat him. Since the democrats are running a primary, he is more at risk at losing (again).

    Since McAuliffe has never held public office, starting at Governor is a bit presumptuous. In general, Virgnians like to see some experience from the people they elect. McAuliffe has none, and will go down in flames.

    I am sooooo looking forward to Gov. Cuccinelli

  • Joe Budzinski says:

    Dan, Bill Bolling likely would have no political future if that rumor were true and he failed to win. Would someone impale themselves for the possibility of a term in the Virginia governor’s office? Knowing nothing about the man, I have no idea if it’s even a credible suggestion.

    It will be a hard fought race regardless of who faces Cuccinelli.

  • BlackOut says:

    I think Salahi’s chances just increased.

  • Joe Budzinski says:

    It would be high theater if the Bolling rumor is true.

    He would have to be de-canonized, first of all.

    BlackOut, HA! Yeah we are going to have to sharpen our pencils and get up pretty early in the morning to go up against the Salahi machine. We sure could use a guy like Lee Atwater right now.

  • BlackOut says:

    Hey, Joe you laugh, he snuck into the White House he probably could sneak into this thing. He’s a solid conservative, loves the horses (just like Romney), never been convicted of a damn thing and jettisoned the nutcase wife. He also hates Journey. Sounds more appealing than the Cooch case.

    Seriously is this the best the Commonwealth can do?

  • Jay Hughes says:

    “Cuccinelli will study long and hard each of the elections he has lost to Democrats in the past”

    Basically Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling have themselves to blame for Ken getting into the race for Governor and outmaneuvering Bill Bolling. They poorly managed Ken and his constituency in the RPV.

    First, let’s deal with Joe’s accurate but poorly contextualized statement above. It’s apparent to anyone with 2 brain cells to rub together the reason why Ken decided to seek the AG spot instead of another term in the Senate is because in each election after his first his margins of victory got slimmer and slimmer. When Ken ran for Senate in 2002 he campaigned as a good libertarian-style conservative. He focused on fiscal conservativism and downplayed the abortion and gay stuff. I know because I was his Treasurer and Deputy Campaign Manager. It served him well and he won by 10% in an extremely tight campaign schedule deliberately selected by Gov. Warner to favor a Democrat. But after he got elected to a full term 2 years later he let his freak flag fly and began his hard vector to the right. With each subsequent election his margins of victory got smaller and smaller. If memory serves his margin over Janet Olezak (sic?) in his final state senate campaign was less than 1%. And, even the Democrats will concede that Janet could barely pour p–s out of a boot with directions on the heel. Such a tissue thin victory margin over such an absurdly incompetent candidate was clear indication his constituents were growing more and more dissatisfied with his transformation from libertarian-style conservative to Bob Marshall and Dick Black’s unholy love child. There could be no doubt the trend would continue. And, it was reasonable to assume that the Democrats would field a stronger candidate than Janet O. and Ken would be defeated in the next election. So Ken realized he had to make the jump to prime time if he wanted to stay in the political game because his tenure in the Senate would end after that term. So he decided to run for AG.

    It was fairly obvious Ken would secure the nomination. His opponents were Dave Foster of Arlington and John Brownlee the former U.S. Attorney for the western district of Virginia. Obviously any candidate from Arlington has about as much chance of securing a convention nomination as I would have of winning a breakdancing competition. And, John Brownlee was found to have a penchant for charging folks with flimsy evidence such they would be driven to bankruptcy via legal defense fees even if acquitted. After Ken secured the nomination at the 2009 convention and the campaign started, McDonnell and Bolling began the process that would bring us to Bolling’s announcement today.

    Usually after a convention, the ticket unites and all campaign literature has all the “Big 3” candidates’ names. But in 2009, Cuccinelli’s name was clearly absent from all McDonnell-Bolling literature. It was clear this was a McDonnell-Bolling campaign and they knew in order to win they would have to run a moderate campaign with some distance from Cuccinelli. That is exactly what they did. Up until the final months of the campaign, the Cuccinelli campaign was flailing. They couldn’t raise money. They could barely afford campaign literature, phone banking, etc. It wasn’t until the final few months of the campaign that McDonnell-Bolling decided to inject money into Ken’s campaign. But it would be on their terms. Once the Cuccinelli lit began flowing noticeably absent was any mention of gay marriage and abortion. Instead the code phrase of “protecting families” was used. And, finally with help from the big boys, Cuccinelli made it.

    Then, once in office McDonnell-Bolling made its final mistake concerning Cuccinelli. Several months into their terms, AG Cuccinelli issued his famous AG opinion finding that Virginia’s state universities could not include sexual orientation in their non-discrimination statements because it was not included in the Virginia civil rights act. The opinion sparked massive student demonstrations on the state capital grounds. Media scrutiny also revealed that Gov. McDonnell’s non-discrimination statement did not include sexual orientation even though the Governor had mentioned many times verbally that he would not hire or fire employees because of their sexual orientation. But the student protests only got worse and Gov. McDonnell knew he had to act. And, his action demonstrates how he mishandled his coalition. First he rescinded his first non-discrimination order and issued a new one that included sexual orientation. That wasn’t so bad. But then he had to go one step further. He invoked his role as the Commonwealth’s Chief Executive Officer to override and countermand the Attorney General’s opinion. This was the spit in the eye of the Republican constituency Cuccinelli represented. He had denied them one of the very reasons they supported Cuccinelli: to get in their recommended dosage of gay bashing. Here’s why McDonnell only needed to do step 1. Executive Orders from the Governor are the equivalent of law within the Executive Branch. An opinion issued from the Attorney General’s office is just that: an opinion. It’s nothing more than words on paper. It has no more force of law behind it than the words I’m writing now. After McDonnell re-issued his non-discrimination statement he should have let Cuccinelli’s opinion stand. Then have 1 or 2 senior staff members quietly contact the Presidents of Virginia 17 state universities and colleges and quietly remind them that the Attorney General’s opinion carries no force of law and to only patiently pay lip service to some kind of line like “we will work with the Attorney General to find common ground blah blah blah yada yada yada” and the issue would have quietly faded away. But instead they went the extra step and destroyed the delicate relationship between moderates, the libertarian-style conservatives and the religious conservatives. Which brings us to the situation we have today: Bill Bolling stepping out of the race.

    I am disappointed yet unsurprised by Bolling’s decision. I renounced my membership in the Republican party several months ago after having been called a deviant one too many times. Everyone’s clued in on my personal life so no need to rehash that old chestnut. But I was willing to come back in order to support Mr. Bolling in a convention. Now that I read in Mr. Bolling’s statement he wants to maintain a more “independent voice” I am more comfortable than ever leaving the Republican Party. No doubt Mr. Cuccinelli and his constituency pat themselves on the back and take credit for electing the McDonnell-Bolling-Cuccinelli ticket. But that constituency has a tendency to long for days of yesteryear and occupy itself with re-waging the last campaign. Our party is too busy waging the campaigns of 1993, 1997, 2000, 2004. We now live in a very new Commonwealth. We live in a Commonwealth where a Democratic Presidential candidate won the state two times in a row. The second time after declaring his support for marriage equality. Tim Kaine decisively ended George Allen’s political career.

    The Republican Party of Virginia needs to ask itself if, in its present form, it can compete in the post-2012 political environment. In my opinion, the answer is decisively “no” as evidenced by our performance this past November unless there is fundamental change within the party. And, just like the person caught up in drug or alcohol addiction they sometimes have to endure a great deal of loss, heartache and misery before they have that moment of clarity where they take that first, shaky step to recovery.

    Provided the drugs or alcohol doesn’t kill them first.

  • Joe Budzinski says:

    Jay, well-stated comment as usual. There are certain issues that obviously strike a chord with portions of the electorate while remaining invisible or at least banal to others – to my discredit I am not knowledgeable about how or whether Ken has relied on social issues to gain traction in past elections. I have supported him in part because he has been on the right side of every question that matters to me, and also because I see him as trustworthy, smart, and someone who is in politics for the right reasons.

    I think some would argue that his decreasing margins of victory were because of a constituency getting increasingly more liberal with changing demographics in Fairfax – but you seem to have had an inside perspective. Your disappointment with the GOP is understandable. For me, Ken is one of the few politicians I believe in – and I think many of his supporters would say the same thing.

    As to your case that he was basically carried to victory by McDonnell and Bolling … well, I don’t know about that. In any case, he will be put to the test next year.

  • Elder Berry says:

    I think Kook (I like that nickname better than Cooch) has by now gotten enough statewide exposure of his basic crazy that he will not have a chance in h*ll of winning in the general. You don’t know “how he has relied on social issues”? Yeah, right, so just ask Mike Farris.

    Mr. Bolling would be right to flee what the Republican Party of Virgina has turned itself into.

  • Smith says:

    Good for Bolling for maybe going for an independent run.

    It actually shows some conviction for his values and his problems with Cooch.

    Congrats Bill on being a PUMA (party unity my ass).

    And I have to ask Joe and the other GOP drones, what type of candidate could the GOP put out that you WOULDNT support? Cuccinneli is not a uniter, hell, he hasnt done anything but promote himself and extreme positions that are not mainstream.

    I expect this to be a circus, which means I also think there could be a Democrat out of nowhere who decides to run.

    If you want to rile the democrat base on an off year- congrats VAGOP, you did it!!

  • Scout says:

    Always good to have commentary from Jay Hughes. Sorry to hear he left the Party. He gave it a lot of service and we need his intelligence and insights.

    His analysis of the trajectory of KC’s political career is spot-on.

  • Matthew Osborn says:

    ” I have supported him in part because he has been on the right side of every question that matters to me, and also because I see him as trustworthy, smart, and someone who is in politics for the right reasons.”

    And not just a guy who said he thinks our President could’ve been born in Kenya, thinks there should be laws reflecting that being gay is wrong, doesn’t believe in Climate Change and thinks Obama was re-elected because of voter fraud?

    Good luck with that. The right-wingers on this site may be painting a rosy picture, but reasonable conservatives all over the state (the state that just RE-elected a Black man who came out for same-sex marriage rights) are busy trying to convince themselves that McAuliffe is moderate enough to vote for. And he is.

  • Joe Budzinski says:

    “Climate Change.” yeah, he’s nuts.

    2 days ago it was winter coat weather, and today it’s nice.

  • edmundburkenator says:

    Science = what coat to put on today

  • Joe Budzinski says:

    Religion = what coat to put on a year from tomorrow at 2 pm, if your neighbor is mowing the lawn.

  • Eric the 1/2 Troll says:

    I believe this election will be fought on the science of forced ultrasounds vs. the science of climate change. A Cooch run will ensure a strong Dem turnout – something that has been demonstrated to be deadly to the Virginia GOP.

  • Joe Budzinski says:

    If Ken is not smart enough to realize he has to get his message across outside the traditional political communication vectors, and convince more people to believe what he believes, he probably will lose. I agree with you there.

  • BlackOut says:

    Bingo Joe!

    I’ll give Chooch this, he puts his beliefs out there for everyone to see. Unlike many social conservatives in VA who hide their beliefs and agendas for the benefit of winning an election.

  • David Dickinson says:

    Cuccinelli has never lost an election.

    McAuliffe has never won one.

    As is typical, it will come down to voter turnout in NOVA and Virginia Beach. In this case, I think NOVA will be more important to democrats because I don’t see a high degree of GOTV enthusiasm for a white guy from New York that lives in McLean from a more heavily black population in the SE corner of the state.

    Cucinelli has a lock on the rest of the state, save a couple of enclaves.

    I can already see that the democrats have to attack Cuccinelli. With McAuliffe being a democratic Romney, all that 1% hyperbole can now be thrown back in their face.

    If the democratic claim that Romney couldn’t possible connect with the averge Joe is correct, then how is a multi-millionnaire from McLean going to do it?

  • Novaguy says:

    What a terrible selection of candidates…. a NY carpetbagger in McCauliffe, and a social conservative wingnut in the Cooch. Hell, I would vote for Creigh Deeds over these two nuts. I feel kind of bad for Bolling, but it seems like he was counting on a President Romney to come stump for him before the convention. Like I said, I feel bad for Bolling, but not enough to support him. He’s no Bob McDonnell.

  • liz says:

    McAuliffe’s lived in McLean for over 20 years. Hardly a carpetbagger.

    Heck, in NOVA, that’s practically a legacy.

  • Matthew Osborn says:

    “Cucinelli has a lock on the rest of the state…”

    Based on what? Conservative polling?

    Democrats don’t have to attack Cooch. All Dems need to do is let Cooch speak.

    McDonnell’s anti-woman thesis was decades old by the time his election, so he had a chance to convince voters that he didn’t really think women should stay pregnant in their kitchens….Cooch is creating new wing-nut narrative every day.

  • David Dickinson says:

    McAuliffe is a 1%-er and that will be a difficult pill for democrats to swallow after demonizing success for the past 2 years.

    I’m note sure “McAuliffe’s lived in McLean for over 20 years.” helps his case. That’s like saying I’ve been really rich for a really long time. Not exactly the narrative that wins over democrats.

  • David Dickinson says:

    And let me remind our audience of Global Crossing, the company McAuliffe made a fortune off of and then it went bankrupt (more shades of Romney). As I personally was working with Global Crossing at the time they went bankrupt and saw them go down, I also think that the fact that McAuliffe put in $100k, then took out millions ($18M I think I read) and then the ship sank and all those people lost their jobs.

    Again, not the best narrative for a “man of the people” wanna-be.

  • Novaguy says:

    It will be fun to see the Dems get hit with the same attacks they used against Romney…. The only downside is that we end up with Cooch.

  • Independent voter says:

    The pundits are saying these are the worst two candidates VA has had in decades. What a choice! With a bit of luck a surprise Dem knight will ride in in a white horse and save the Commonwealth. Surely there is a winner out there. A Mark Warner clone?

  • Matthew Osborn says:

    That’s a nice story, but is it true? I thought I’d read that McAuliffe sold his stock for 18 million BEFORE the company went bankrupt. Which seems devoid of any controversy whatsoever.

  • David Dickinson says:

    He did sell it before it went bankrupt (otherwise he would have lost his money). But the antics of the management make one wonder whether they told their friends to get out while they could:

    I don’t think he did anything illegal, but the irony of the democrats pillorying Romney’s success for investing in companies, some of which did well and some of which failed, and then have them turn around and nominate a virtual clone, smacks so hard of hypocrisy that it almost knocks one unconscious.

  • Matthew Osborn says:

    Only if you continue to cling to the “fact” that Democrats pilloried Romney for his investing success..and ignore the fact that Dems actually pilloried him for profiting from outsourcing jobs, hiding money in foreign accounts, and refusing to release his taxes…all the while pretending to be concerned about the middle-class who’s votes he so desperately needed.

  • David Dickinson says:

    Does 1% ring a bell, Matthew?

    Democrats spent 2 years conditioning their adherents to loathe success and to channel that hate to the ballot box.

    Now, Virginia democrats will have some backpedalling to do.

    As was already said, if nothing else, it will be entertaining to watch the pirouettes the spin doctors will attempt.

  • Matthew Osborn says:

    By the way, if you really want to paint McAuliffe as a Romney clone, I’ll stop arguing with you.

  • David Dickinson says:

    Actually, I don’t think they are clones. What Romney did took business skill and he did it repeatedly in the private, public and non-profit sectors.

    McAuliffe’s buddies hooked him up and he scored big. Once.

  • liz says:

    Sorry David D., that’s horsepucky. We spent a year and a half letting people know what Romney was actually saying about anyone who wasn’t as rich as he was. It was never about how much money he had, it was that he felt that anyone who didn’t have his kind of money wasn’t worth his time or his respect.

    Every president we’ve ever had has been wealthy beyond the dreams of most Americans, so don’t act like it was all about Romney being rich.

  • NateDogg614 says:

    No, it was his being rich AND Republican! If you’re a rich Democrat, then you’re heart is automatically in the right place! 😉

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