Establishment and Outsiders: Part 3

This is the third part of the blog series. The first two dealt with describing the Establishment and Outsiders. In this part, I give an example of the typical Establishment politician: Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling.

Note, I said Establishment, not moderate. The two need not be the same, and in the case of Bolling, they certainly aren’t. However, Bolling’s career shows a man very comfortable with the Establishment – and more important, badly out of place as an Outsider.

Bolling made his state-level debut in 1995, when he ran for State Senate against long-serving (and deeply despised by then) Democrat Elmo Cross. The GOP was so determined to defeat Cross that Bolling was, for a time, the most prolific fundraiser of all challengers (at one point, only House Speaker Tom Moss and Brandon Bell had raised more money – among all Virginia candidates that year). Bolling won, and quickly built his ties in the Virginia GOP. He even took a slice of Spotsylvania County during redistricting (the first and only GOP attempt to use the lines to defeat Edd Houck), not that it even came close to endangering him.

Bolling was clearly a party man, even when he disagreed with caucus leadership (such as during the tax increase debacle of 2004). He was a vote against the tax hikes, but not a voice (that is an observation, not a criticism). In his campaign for Lieutenant Governor in 2005, Bolling used his ties within the party to turn his primary opponent (Shaun Connaughton) into a moderate Outsider, turning the usually observed division on its head.

But it would be after he was elected LG in 2005 that Bolling’s Establishment nature became clear – and contrary to outward appearances, it was not his support for HB3202 that did it.

Rather, it was his one attempt to act against type – his aborted gubernatorial campaign.

The Establishment divided into two different reactions: some were neutral, others backed Bob McDonnell instead. As such, Bolling was forced to run an Outsider campaign, and he was clearly uncomfortable doing it. When he switched gears and ran for re-election, the relief of party leaders may have dominated the headlines, but Bolling’s own relief was also very clear.

Thus had Bolling built a career based on relationships, experience, and wise use of political capital.

Again, Bolling is no moderate; in fact his only real blemish on his conservative record is HB3202 (and I suspect in calling it a blemish I may hold the minority view among the contributors). He his, however, Establishment through and through.

Cross-posted to the right-wing liberal

  • Bolling is a good guy as far as establishment folks go but his reactions to Cooch entering the fray was a real disappointment. It is not anyone persons turn at office, this is not an amusement park ride where you wait in line. Insider or outsider, you play by the same rules.

    Speaking of outsiders..

  • Brian E

    The Establishment and Outsiders speak different languages; it’s where political power/control is in direct conflict with free market principles.

    Politicians, bureaucrats, academia, media and lawyers team up to stymie the execution of those who truly produce like doctors, farmers and small business owners. Where the Establishment feel the need to compromise, it’s usually done at the practice of a doctor or farmer.

    Because they have the practicality and the resources to win debates don’t mean they’re right.

  • Woah, woah, woah…

    This series just came completely off the rails.

    Bolling has always worked outside the establishment. He did so as supervisor, he did so as a State Senator, and let’s not forget that he won a bruising Lt. Governor’s primary against Sean Connaughton (another former PWC Chairman who has served in countless gov’t positions — and is a great human being in turn) with over 60% of the GOP primary vote.

    I see what you’re trying to do here… but Bolling as an establishment hack? No way.

    Rather than trying to pigeonhole Cuccinelli or Bolling as “establishment” or “outsider” or “Tea Party” or “moderate” or “squish” or “conservative” by breaking out the rulers and measuring out, why don’t we just let these guys make the case with (1) their records, (2) their backgrounds, and (3) their vision for Virginia first?

    Sorry man… I emphatically disagree. The so-called “establishment” is the logistics train every campaign has to hammer together to win elections — plain and simple. The reason why most “outsiders” don’t get it (and feel as if they are on the outside) is because they fail Morton Blackwell’s first rule of political campaigning… the rightness of your ideas does not guarantee victory.

    This paladin syndrome is the death of conservatives. Just because some candidates understand this (Allen, Cuccinelli, McDonnell) does not make them insiders. And frankly, just because some candidates do not (anyone look at Obenshain’s numbers lately?) does not make them outsiders. You can’t get more down to the very DNA of the Virginia Republicans and the conservative movement in the Commonwealth than Obenshain, guys…

    Anyhow, those are my thoughts on the matter.

  • DCH

    Good summation. I’ve supported Bolling as long as he’s been on the statewide scene (except for this time). I like him personally. I remember when he was at every fish fry and Republican picnic I was – and a whole lot more. I have immense respect for his dear wife, as well.

    But when it comes to the question of who is willing to do the hard work and lead as a principled conservative, I have no questions about who to support for Governor in 2013. I rarely see Bill at events anymore and when I do, well his speeches contain multiple references to being the “chief jobs creation officer” and rarely mention conservative principles…

    Thankfully Bolling is no John Warner moderate, but he’s not resonating with the base the way he used to either.

  • Brian E

    Aren’t you tired of following? It must get really tired waiting on others to determine your future. Instead of a representative government where the vision of the people are gauged, we have to wait on bureaucrats and politicians to dictate our future.

    And what is their specialty? Ideas!

  • Brian E —

    Not so sure *I’m* the one who’s following… 🙂

    That’s the funny thing about Thermopylae. Everyone gets themselves in a lather over “The 300 Spartans” against the Persian hordes.

    The Spartans died. It took Philip of Macedon and Alexander the Great to teach a bunch of squabbling Greeks how to conquer an empire. Even then… it was imposed upon them by the Macedonian “establishment”.

    Amateurs talk tactics; professionals talk logistics. Simple as that.

  • @DCH —

    On that, we agree… but I still cannot fathom the idea of Bolling as the stereotypical “establishment” hack. That just does not follow.

  • Shaun,
    I never called Bolling a “hack,” and your use of the term says more about how you view the Establishment than how I view Bolling.
    The whole point of the series is to show that neither Establishment nor Outsider should be perjorative terms per se. I specifically said the Establishment and moderate are not interchangeable.

    As for the 2005 race, it proves my point. Bolling rallied the party Establishment and forced his more moderate challenger to run as an Outsider. It makes abundantly clear that Establishment does not mean the party’s left.

  • In my experience, it’s difficult to label anybody with a significant political career as anything other than establishment.

    Both Bolling and Cuccinelli are establishment Republicans. Neither can claim to be an outsider. They’ve both spent multiple years in the state Senate and they’ve both served in statewide elected offices.

    In terms of policy, the two are almost identical. Thus, as Eve is already starting to do, this race is going to turn on personalities and that means it’s going to get very bloody, very quickly.

    As a side note, I’ve always thought it funny that I, the union official and social moderate who has never held elected office, am considered “establishment.” But then again, reading DJ’s description, that had me pegged pretty good.

  • I agree with Brian S., both are establishment. I first saw Bill Bolling when Robert Dean invited me to visit a VBTA meeting that Bolling was speaking at.
    *waiting for the shrill reply to mentioning Dean & VBTA*

    So, in the past he has met with “outsiders”. Cuccinelli is the AG! How is he not part of the establishment eventhough he isn’t afraid to mix it up with party moderates? Cuccinelli is well known for having good connections to the “outsiders”. You know that “big tent” some PRETEND to have? Cuccinelli expands the base and acts rather than pretends.
    Two good guys. I have to go with Cuccinelli, my outsider viewpoint and just loving Cuccinelli’s bold moves as AG.
    I have to say, that it is refreshing to have 2 good picks for a change. IMHO Cuccinelli is a far superior pick, but even if Bolling wins, at least I don’t have to worry about anything. Congrats to the RPV for having such a contest.

  • Lauren Yoder

    Frankly I don’t care what label they have attached to them. Our 2013 nominee needs to both be able to run an aggressive campaign and then after the election be able to lead with conservative ideas. One of these two candidates is much better at these two things then the other.

  • Lauren, both of these candidates have demonstrated how to win by running aggressive conservative campaigns and by leading that way after they were elected.

    Again, there is very little daylight between Bolling and Cuccinelli when it comes to policy and their beliefs and support for conservative issues.

    This is going to turn on personalities and regional support.

    Anybody who says Bill Bolling is less conservative than Ken Cuccinelli doesn’t know Bolling’s record. And anybody who says Ken Cuccinelli is an outsider should have seen how masterfully he handled the State Central races the last few weeks.

  • As Brian said, this will be a tough contest between two excellent candidates. To label the non-winning candidate “loser” is a gross misuse of the word.

  • You nailed it Alton.. Two good choices, One great choice if Cooch wins though.

  • Like a lot of things, it’s relative. Sometime Establishment is good, sometimes not. In 1980, Ronald Reagan was NOT the establishment candidate. Ford was, followed by Anderson. The establishment was convinced that a Reagan win in the Primaries meant a win for Carter.

    By 1984, Reagan was not only the establishment candidate, he WAS the establishment.

    Establishment does not mean Rino, and outsider does not mean conservative.

  • Well put Ron.. Truer words never spoken on BD.

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