Yesterday’s chain of events has Republicans buzzing.
First, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who has become a folk hero among Conservatives had a bombshell of an announcement when it was disclosed (somewhat prematurely) that he plans to run for Governor of Virginia in 2013. Word is, he planned to make the announcement next week, but the news somehow made it’s way to the media.
But the timing is not exactly what Cuccinelli had in mind. One would speculate that he would have preferred to announce next week after this weekend’s Republican Advance (Republicans don’t retreat) to not disrupt the conversations at the annual Republican event.
But it is big news regardless of the timing. And it delighted Cuccinelli’s fans to say the least. And it has driven fear into the hearts of Democrats, Liberals and especially Progressives in the state.
And it also prompted a response from Lt. Governor Bill Bolling that a number of “engaged” Republicans and Conservatives find, frankly, disappointing.
Bolling’s office released the following statement, which says (in part):
“Needless to say, I am very disappointed by Mr. Cuccinelli’s decision to run for Governor in 2013. During the 2009 campaign, and since taking office in 2010, Mr. Cuccinelli had repeatedly stated that he intended to seek re-election as Attorney General in 2013 and that is what I and other Republican leaders had expected him to do. Unfortunately, he has now decided to put his own personal ambition ahead of the best interests of the Commonwealth and the Republican Party.
“In 2009, Governor McDonnell and I gave Virginia Republicans a blueprint for how to win statewide elections in Virginia. It started with our decision to join together and offer a united vision for the future of our state. In order to make that possible, I decided to seek re-election to the office of Lieutenant Governor and support Bob McDonnell’s campaign for Governor. Unlike Mr. Cuccinelli, I set aside my personal ambition and did what was right for the Commonwealth and our party.
Bolling comes off as feeling “entitled” to the job of Governor and bitter about facing competition. One colleague of mine called the Bolling statement “petulant whining”.
Most agree that it would have been stronger politically for Bolling to have welcomed Cuccinelli and all potential challengers to create a robust debate and an opportunity to give Virginians a choice in November 2013.
The Bolling statement reads “Unfortunately, he (Cuccinelli) has now decided to put his own personal ambition ahead of the best interests of the Commonwealth and the Republican Party.”
There is no political queue and no heir apparent in Virginia. And it is totally inappropriate to accuse Cuccinelli of putting his personal ambitions ahead of the best interests of the Commonwealth. Such a statement is both ironic and hypocritical.
Both of these gentlemen are more than qualified to be Governor of Virginia. Bill Bolling has done a remarkable job as Lt. Governor and has worked with the McDonnell Administration and has been a major part of the success of the Administration. His record is substantial and stands on it’s own merit.
Ken Cuccinelli has done an amazing job as Attorney General as well. He has done more in the interest of Liberty and state’s rights than any other Attorney General.
And the success of Bob McDonnell – our former Attorney General – is proof that one can successfully jump from AG to Governor and do well.
Bolling’s statement also mentions a “deal” that was struck in 2009 to avoid a costly primary and unify the party around Bob McDonnell. And we all applaud Bolling’s sacrifice in that deal.
And while Cuccinelli has stated his intentions to run for reelection as Attorney General, that is certainty not binding and it is perfectly acceptable for him to change his mind without being accused of putting personal ambition ahead of the best interests of the Commonwealth.
I have come to know Attorney General Cuccinelli as a very logical man. I have no doubt that if he did not believe that running for Governor was in the best interest of the Commonwealth, he would not do so.
Lt. Governor Bolling has a unique opportunity to prove his mettle and his leadership in the 2012 General Assembly session beginning next month. With a 20-20 split, his vote will be the most important one in the Virginia Senate on many bills. But the true test of his ability to lead will be in the organizational fight that comes first.
Democrats are demanding equal representation on every committee in a “power sharing” arrangement. And while a few years back, when the situation was reversed and the Democrats held the tie breaking Lt. Governorship, they were perfectly willing to grab the power and share nothing until a lone Democrat refused to go along with the plan. Of course, that Democrat was Virgil Goode who would eventually switch parties. But it was Goode’s refusal to go along with the other 19 Democrats that led to power sharing in 1996, not the good will and voluntary acquiescence of magnanimous Democrats.
Absent a turncoat Republican defecting, the Republicans, with proper leadership from Bolling, should take control.
Times are different this time around. The Senate Democrats have ignored – even broken – Senate rules by improperly killing legislation in prior sessions. And they redrew the Senatorial Districts in what can only be described as a power protection scheme for Democrat’s jobs. Absent these transgressions, a power sharing arrangement would be worth considering. But this bad behavior on the part of Democrats does not merit the reward of power sharing.
Bill Bolling has a difficult task ahead. How he leads will make or break his case to run for Governor.
Not a predetermined pecking order.
The statement from the Lt. Governor has placed a negative tone on an election that has not even started. And that is not in the best interest of the Commonwealth, although the Democrats are jumping with joy at the prospect of the internal fighting within the Republican Party that Bolling’s words are sure to spark.
What is in the best interest of both the Commonwealth and the Republican Party is to bury this silly nonsense, deal with the matter at hand (the Senate fight) and act like the Virginia Gentlemen that we know both to be.
Virginia deserves that!