No Independent Bid for Bill Bolling in Virginia


The road before Ken Cuccinelli’s campaign just got a little bit easier. Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling ended his flirtation with an independent bid for governor of Virginia this year:

However, after a great deal of consideration I have decided that I will not be an Independent candidate for Governor this year.  There were many factors that influenced my decision to forgo such a campaign.

First, I know how difficult Independent campaigns can be.  The biggest challenge an Independent candidate faces is fundraising.  You can have a winning message, but if you don’t have the resources to effectively communicate that message to voters you cannot win.  To run a winning campaign I would have needed to raise at least $10-$15M.  That’s a very difficult thing to do without the resources of a major political party and national donors at your disposal.  Based on my discussions with key donors over the past three weeks, I was confident I could raise enough money to run a competitive campaign, but I was not confident I could raise enough money to run a winning campaign. While it is possible that these resources could have been secured over time if the campaign progressed as we envisioned, that was an uncertain outcome and it was too big a risk for me to ask my donors to take.

Second, running as an Independent candidate would have required me to sever my longstanding relationship with the Republican Party.  While I am very concerned about the current direction of the Republican Party, I still have many dear friends in the Republican Party, people who have been incredibly supportive of me over the years.  I have tremendous respect for them and I am very grateful for everything they have done for me.  I value these friendships a great deal and I feel a deep sense of personal obligation to those who have done so much to make my success possible.  I have heard from many of these friends over the past several months.  They have encouraged me to not give up on the Republican Party and continue working to get our party back on a more mainstream course.  Maintaining their friendship and respect means more to me than the prospects of being Governor and I was unwilling to jeopardize these longstanding relationships by embarking on an Independent campaign.

Finally, my decision was heavily influenced by a growing dissatisfaction with the current political environment in Virginia.  Politics is much different today than it was when I was first elected.  In many ways I fear that the “Virginia way” of doing things is rapidly being replaced by the “Washington way” of doing things and that’s not good for Virginia.  As a result, the political process has become much more ideologically driven, hyper-partisan and mean spirited.  Rigid ideologies and personal political agendas are too often placed ahead of sound public policy and legitimate policy disagreements too quickly degenerate into unwarranted personal attacks.  This makes it more difficult to govern effectively and get things done.  While I still value public service a great deal, the truth is that I just don’t find the political process to be as enjoyable as I once did.  Because of this, I decided that the time has come for me to step away from elected office and look for other ways to serve Virginia.

Best to Bolling in his future endeavors, but permit this one question . . .

Is the political process meant to be enjoyable?

Tags: SCOTUS , Ken Cuccinelli , Terry McAuliffe

Which Virginia Candidate Needs to Build Up His Website?


I realize it’s only March, but in just eight months, Virginia will be electing a new governor, a new lieutenant governor, and a new state attorney general, and 100 seats in the House of Delegates will be on the ballot.

In the gubernatorial race, you would think the candidates would want their websites up, rocking and rolling. Indeed, Ken Cuccinelli, the Republican nominee, has his up and running, with YouTube videos, a detailed biography, a news page, an events page, and archives going back to October.

Bill Bolling, the currently-Republican lieutenant governor who’s unknown to 72 percent of Virginians, also has a fairly sizable site, including his February 28 statement that he’s deciding whether or not to seek the office of governor as “an Independent Republican.”

But Terry McAuliffe, the energetic former DNC chair who’s the Democratic nominee, has . . . well, a donation page, a place to sign up for e-mails, a Facebook page, and a Twitter feed. No biography or issue pages yet. A bit sparse.

Maybe when they expand the web site, they’ll find room for my rave review of his autobiography.

Tags: SCOTUS , Ken Cuccinelli , Terry McAuliffe

McAuliffe, Cuccinelli Tied in New Virginia Poll



Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli are in a 38 – 38 percent dead heat in their race to become Virginia’s next governor. Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, running as an independent candidate, leaves the race a statistical tie, with McAuliffe at 34 percent, Cuccinelli at 31 percent and Bolling at 13 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today. Bolling, elected as a Republican, said he will make a major announcement next month, presumably about the governor’s race.

When talking up the possibility of an independent bid, Bolling said earlier this month, “I think there is a definite opening in this campaign for a credible independent candidate… We will have our decision made and announced by March 14.”

Is 13 percent really the threshold of support to be a credible independent candidate? Of course, candidates tend to assess their own viability and credibility with a distinctly non-objective eye. Bolling has been lieutenant governor of the state for eight years, and found himself unlikely to be able to win the gubernatorial nomination over Cuccinelli at the state convention. Bolling and his crew may be angry that the Virginia GOP decided to select their nominee at a convention instead of a primary, but he shouldn’t have any illusions about the likely outcome in that venue as well; in June of last year, Cuccinelli led Bolling 51 percent to 15 percent.

But this may come down to what Bolling really wants to see: his own victory… or Ken Cuccinelli’s defeat.

Tags: SCOTUS , Ken Cuccinelli , Terry McAuliffe , Virginia

Bolling Out, Christie Up, Booker Down, Coakley Back In?


The lesson of today’s Morning Jolt is that campaign news never really stops . . .

Could She Who Scoffed at Red Sox Fans Be Back?

Oh please, oh please . . .

She is the woman who couldn’t beat Scott Brown, but now she’s the Democrats’ best hope to keep the governor’s office in 2014.

Don’t laugh, but that woman is Attorney General Martha Coakley.

Lt. Gov. Tim Murray? Treasurer Steve Grossman? Please. If they’re the best the party can offer, then Republicans might actually have a chance at winning a statewide race again.

Coakley is still scarred from her 2010 Senate defeat, and many Democrats shudder at the thought of her running again. There is a possibility Gov. Deval Patrick could appoint her to U.S. Sen. John F. Kerry’s seat if Kerry gets a Cabinet post, but sources said she’s more interested in succeeding Patrick in the Corner Office.

“That’s what she’s definitely looking at,” one veteran Democratic strategist said.

Now the irony is that I’ve heard Scott Brown is also more interested in being governor of Massachusetts than running for Senate again.

Brown vs. Coakley: The Rematch!

Judging a Booker Poll by Its Cover

It’s early, but . . . maybe the 2009 gubernatorial races aren’t going to be so exciting. In Virginia, we’ll see Ken Cuccinelli as the GOP nominee, since Bill Bolling has suddenly dropped his bid. At this point, it looks like Cuccinelli will be taking on the jovial soul Terry McAuliffe, a former DNC chair who flamed out in a 2009 bid. McAuliffe would be a very, very “northern Virginia” candidate, which may or may not be enough in an off-year election.

Then there’s New Jersey, where everyone thought there was a chance of a clash of the titans, incumbent Republican Chris Christie against Democrat Cory Booker, mayor of Newark. Eh, maybe not so much:

Newark Mayor Cory Booker remains the wild card, with political observers believing he is the Democrat with the best chance of ousting Christie. He didn’t respond to an interview request and his Twitter account was silent on political matters.

Booker fares best among Democrats against Christie in head-to-head tests in a new Rutgers-Eagleton Poll but still would get thumped by Christie, 53 percent to 34 percent, if the election took place now.

The poll also shows 59 percent of New Jersey voters support a second term for Christie, with 32 percent opposing. Support for Christie’s re-election has risen dramatically since before Sandy, said David Red­lawsk, director of the Rutgers-Eagleton Poll and a professor of political science at Rutgers.

The sequence could scare off Booker, Red­lawsk said. “Any Democrat, even Booker, has to take these numbers seriously. At the same time Booker remains the Democrat who would seem to have the best chance in the early running.”

Liz Marlantes of the Christian Science Monitor looks at some recent examples of governors who had their popularity changed by hurricanes:

. . . the goodwill Christie amassed in the weeks immediately following the storm shouldn’t be underestimated, either. A perhaps more relevant comparison is former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush — who, interestingly, seems to be pondering a 2016 run himself. Bush was widely praised by Democrats and Republicans alike for his handling of a series of hurricanes that battered the Sunshine State in 2004 and 2005. The St. Petersburg Times dubbed him “The Hurricane Governor” in a laudatory profile that quoted Democratic strategists who’d worked for his opponent as saying he’d been “a superb leader.” Two years later, Bush left office with a nearly 60 percent approval rating.

On the other hand, it’s worth noting that Bush’s predecessor, former Florida governor Lawton Chiles, was roundly criticized in the wake of 1992’s Hurricane Andrew — with his approval rating in the state going all the way down to a dismal 22 percent. Two years later he won reelection, anyway.

In what is undoubtedly the same kind of buzz that got President Jon Huntsman where he is today, the New Yorker is suddenly writing gushing profiles that talk about Christie’s presidential potential:

As a launching pad for Christie’s 2013 reëlection campaign, all of this could hardly be better, and it also provides him with a ready route to 2016. If he wins next year, which seems likely, he can continue the process of rebuilding the areas battered by Sandy and push through more reforms, while quietly constructing the political operation and campaign chest he needed for a run in 2016. Here, too, being from Jersey is an advantage. The national media and the moneymen are just across the river. (Having been unsuccessfully prevailed upon to run in 2012 by a group of super-rich Republicans, including Rupert Murdoch and Wilbur Ross, Christie shouldn’t have much trouble raising cash.)

Ahem. That was before he was seen as the guy who spent the final weeks before Election Day doing more to restore Obama’s brand as a bipartisan healer more than anyone else this side of Richard Lugar. Some of those GOP moneymen are going to be a little grumpy if Christie calls in the near future, I suspect. They continue:

Small wonder, then, that Christie is widely regarded as one of the front-runners for the G.O.P. nomination in 2016. But before he can be seen as a wholly viable candidate, he still has some issues to resolve, including his record as U.S. Attorney, his political identity inside the Republican Party, and his health.

That last item is a legitimate concern, although clearly Christie has managed to be an effective governor with his weight issues. Perhaps the biggest indicator of his ambitions after 2013 will be his waistline.

Tags: SCOTUS , Chris Christie , TSA , Ken Cuccinelli , Martha Coakley , Terry McAuliffe

Richard Epstein, Donald Verrilli, and Michael Carvin Assess SCOTUS Term


An interesting discussion at the Heritage Foundation earlier today. Towards the end, Richard Epstein gets a nice dig at Paul Krugman, too.

Tags: 2012 , SCOTUS

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