To the surprise of, well, no one, LG Bill Bolling announced today that he will not pursue an independent bid for governor. Bolling cited three reasons for not running, with money leading the list.
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.
Honestly, I never thought Bolling would run, not because of the money, but because of the second reason he cited:
Second, running as an Independent candidate would have required me to sever my longstanding relationship with the Republican Party. […] 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.
At the end of the day, Bolling is a company man. I think he demonstrated that when he stepped aside for McDonnell last cycle. Despite all of the reasons he gave at the time, the only one that really made sense – and one he didn’t offer – was that the party was more important than a single individual. Bolling wants to be governor – I recall him saying it when he was first running for LG in 2005 – but not at the expense of another Republican. (The cynic in me says that four years from now, look for Bolling to be in the mix.)
And that makes his third reason a bit of a stretch. As a company man, Bolling has had a hand in contributing to the hyper-partisanship in Richmond. Not only as LG, where, since 2011 he has wielded the Republican 21st vote, but also as a Senator. He and Cuccinelli differ in style – but not necessarily in substance. Just take a look at his voting record. (Visit http://lis.virginia.gov/lis.htm and look at sessions prior to 2006.)
Nevertheless, Bolling has attempted a bit of a makeover, stretching back to the time he took office as LG. He’s tried to moderate his positions. Whether this is reflective of a change in heart or a calculated move, only Bolling knows.
While I didn’t believe he would run, I did hope he would. Not only would it have been a much more interesting race, but also I think this makes it more difficult for Terry McAuliffe to win. Will Republican voters get in line behind Ken Cuccinelli? Will Democratic voters turn out in the necessary numbers?
It’s going to be a long eight months.