Lt. Governor Bill Bolling thought it was his turn to be Governor of Virginia. However, the Old Dominion’s Republican activists appeared to have someone else in mind, so Bolling quit the campaign without ever making a real case for his candidacy – except that he thought it was his turn and Richmond’s political elite agreed.
In attacking his principled small government constitutional conservative rival, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in personal terms, Bolling even left open the possibility that he could run for Governor as an independent.
Were Bolling to follow up on that speculation and leave the GOP to run as an “independent,” he would join such infamous former Republicans as Florida Governor-turned-Democrat Charlie Crist and the late Pennsylvania Republican Senator-turned-Democrat Arlen Specter in putting his personal ambitions ahead of advancing conservative governance.
And, of course, Bolling would not really be “independent.” He would be the candidate of the special interests that have long held sway in the halls of Virginia’s state capitol.
The only real “independent” in the race for Governor of Virginia is the man Bolling gratuitously attacked on his way out the door: Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli.
Cuccinelli has built his political reputation on actually producing the kind of conservative government that establishment Republicans -- like Bolling -- always campaign on, but never even attempt to produce once they get elected.
As he left the race, Bolling publicly questioned the ability of Cuccinelli -- a tea party star -- to win the general election, even as he claimed that, “I love the Republican party …”
Bolling also refused to endorse Cuccinelli, saying, according to The Richmond Times-Dispatch, “I have serious reservations about his ability to effectively and responsibly lead the state… And given those reservations, I could not in good conscience endorse his candidacy for governor.”
Bolling’s most revealing comment about the end of his candidacy also pretty well summed up why the Republican activists who were likely to be delegates to the state convention weren’t warming to his candidacy, “The party has to decide whether we’re more interested in engaging in great ideological debates, or winning elections and earning the right to lead,” said Bolling.
Yet, as Virginia Republican Party Chair Pat Mullins observed, “Nowhere in his [Bolling’s] statements does he mention a policy disagreement with the Attorney General.”
As rumors swirl about whether or not Bolling will leave the Party, many are now wondering whether his “love” for the GOP was disingenuous to begin with, applying only so long as the Party served as a vehicle to advance his personal ambitions.
Bolling was about to be passed over for the nomination for Governor because today’s Republican activists have no interest in establishment-type insider candidates, like Bolling, who are all about biography and “my turn” and are not willing to campaign on, fight for and govern according to conservative principles.
If Bill Bolling leaves the GOP and runs as an independent, it won’t be because Ken Cuccinelli and today’s Republican Party of Virginia are “too conservative” or solely interested in “engaging in great ideological debates.” It will be because today’s Republican activists want candidates, like Ken Cuccinelli, who will actually produce on their campaign promises to govern as conservatives, and that got in the way of Bolling’s personal ambition.