Bolling’s opening salvo of the 2013 campaign? Electability

Just in case you forgot, next year is an election year in Virginia, and a big one to boot, as the three statewide office will be up for grabs in addition to the House of Delegates. So let’s waste no time and dive right in to this Politico piece featuring one of the GOP gubernatorial contenders, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling:

Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling called the 2012 election results a wake-up call for state Republicans heading into the 2013 governor’s race, arguing that the party needs to put electability first in choosing a gubernatorial nominee next year.

“Electability.” Isn’t that on the list of forbidden words?

The GOP should offer voters a “clear choice” in 2013, Bolling said, but that doesn’t mean choosing a candidate too conservative and too activist-oriented to win the state or appeal to its growing Hispanic and Asian-American electorate.

“I think I’m the logical person to build on the progress that Gov. McDonnell and I have made,” Bolling said. “Mr. Cuccinelli’s made a lot of noise and he’s gotten a lot of publicity, but he hasn’t really accomplished a lot. … I think I’m the only Republican candidate for governor who’s actually electable next November.”

If Republicans choose a nominee who is an “ideological firebrand,” Bolling said, “it may make some in the base of our party happy, but we’re going to turn the governor’s office over to the Democrats next November.”

It’s a very, very interesting way to frame one’s candidacy. No need for firebrands or party pleasers. Instead, competence and electability are the order of the day.

Oh my.

  • Ask Bob Dole, John McCain, and Mitt Romney how being the electable works our….

  • Loudoun GOPer

    Wasn’t Bolling the man who supported Romney’s campaign from day 1?
    Wasn’t Bolling the State coordinator for Romney?
    Wasn’t the reason we chose Romney beacuse he was the most “electable”?
    How’d that work out for us?
    Here we go again being told that we need to put principles aside and go for “electability,” whatever that means. But let’s look at the track record of the more “electable” candidates:
    George HW Bush v Michael Dukakis – Won
    George HW Bush v Bill Clinton – LOST
    Bob Dole v Bill Clinton – LOST
    John McCain v Barack Obama – LOST
    Mitt Romney v Barack Obama – LOST
    Now let’s look at the track record of candidates who stood up for Conservative ideas and didn’t back away from their beliefs:
    Ronald Reagan v Jimmy Carter – WON
    Ronald Reagan v Waler Mondale – WON
    George W. Bush v Al Gore – WON
    George W. Bush v John Kerry – WON
    In fact, over the last 32 years, the real conservative candidates won 100% of their races, while the only race won by the “electable” candidates could be attributed to wanting to extend the Reagan legacy.
    We need to stop this debate about whether or not our candidates should actually stand up for and clearly support the positions of our party that are outlined in the Republican platform. Bolling’s biggest complaint against Cuccinelli boils down to the fact that Bolling feels that, “it’s his turn.”

  • It may be right to go with the theory of the most electable conservative. Smarter men than me have been proponents of that. But it could be that 3 million didn’t come out to vote for Romney because he wasn’t conservative enough. I’m not smart enough to figure it out, but I am smart enough to figure out which candidate is most appealing to me and that is not Bill Bolling.

    • Why should a candidate’s appeal have anything to do with the election? What about the candidate’s policies? I hope you meant “which candidate’s policies are most appealing,” because if you didn’t our side is just as bad as the left who elect their candidates based on resonance, not reason.

      If you did mean his policies, I look forward to learning why you believe Bolling’s policy positions are less favorable than others.

  • David A.

    What Virginian Republicans need to understand is that the Commonwealth’s electorate isn’t what it used to be several years ago. Trust me, I’m having a hard time swallowing the fact that Virginia voted for Obama again and elected Tim Kaine to the Senate. Simply, Virginia isn’t what it used to me – demographically.

    A conservative can still win in Virginia IF he appeals to moderate voters – especially those in the DC suburbs. Gov. McDonnell proved successful at this. He was successful because he wasn’t a “firebrand” conservative. After growing up in Virginia Beach, spending some time in Williamsburg and now living in Arlington, I can tell you that a “firebrand” individual does not play well up here.

    NOVA voters want to see you more concerned about governing and laying out a strategic vision. Sure, talk about your conservative philosophy – but doing only that will not help you be seen as a credible candidate.

    For me, I like Bolling. I think he’s done a good job as Lt. Gov. and loyal to the governor. I get why some like Cuccinelli – he wears his philosophies on his sleeves and that appeals to a lot of folks who feel the same way.

    The bad thing is that the number of voters in Virginia who feel this way are no longer at the level they used to be. To win Virginia, you need to expand outside your base and that includes moderates. A conservative “firebrand” candidate just doesn’t appeal to these individuals. And if you think you can win an election without – well, you are just plain wrong.

    And as for those complaining about Romney – it wasn’t that he was a moderate or wasn’t a “true” conservative. The fact is, it’s pretty darned tough to defeat an incumbent – especially a president. While the GOP underwent a rancorous primary where each candidate was spending non-stop, Obama was able to lay the groundwork for another successful GOTV effort. It also didn’t help that voters perceived the economy as improving. Lastly, if you look at the demographics of the voting bloc, you’ll see Romney did very poorly among voters under 30, Asians and Hispanics.

    Let’s also be honest – the presidential race was close. Look at the margins in New Hampshire, Ohio and Virginia. It wasn’t a blowout.

    For Republicans to win nationally or in Virginia, we’re going to have to look at inclusion. Simply relying on our traditional base will not get the job done.

    • Loudoun GOPer

      ” The fact is, it’s pretty darned tough to defeat an incumbent – especially a president”

      With all due respect, that is a huge cop-out. This was a race that never should have been lost. Barack Obama’s record was as bad, or worse, than Jimmy Carter. We should have been able to nominate my six year old and still won this race. I know of no president faced with the fundamentals of the race so uniformly against them get re-elected until now.

      I will also make you two guarantees right now. Ken Cuccinelli will be our nominee, and he will win.

    • Chris

      Ken Cuccinelli has spent his entire career getting elected in Northern Virginia. He grew up here, works here, raised a family here. Bill Bolling knows absolutely NOTHING about Northern Virginia and is quite a lazy campaigner. Whoever wins or loses, Bill could not even come close to understanding Northern Virginia as well as Ken does.

      • David A.

        Cuccinelli spent his career running in a district in Northern Virginia. There is a big difference. He represented the 37th in Fairfax. Look at the votes that came in from there. While I can’t overlap his old district on the current county presidential results, Fairfax County did go Obama – by 1,715,301 votes.

        I wasn’t ever saying that Cuccinelli can’t win. What I was saying is a “firebrand” conservative who throws out the GOP “red meat” will have a tough time getting elected statewide now.

        Look at the vote margins in other areas of Virginia. Look at Henrico, Prince William and Virginia Beach. Obama ran away with Henrico 55-43 and PW 57-41. While Romney won VB, it was only by a two point margin – 50-48.

        • David A.

          Correction. Slow morning. No by that crazy vote margin. But by 85,261.

  • Al

    That’s a pretty good assessment. You can put forth an ideologically pure candidate and be certain of your virtue in your loss, or you can put forth a candidate who might actually win.

    Pick one.

  • EricMcGrane

    What Virginia needs, and what will really excite voters, is a candidate that puts them to sleep. That doesn’t say what needs to be said. The says different things to different audiences. That is afraid to actually talk about values.

    That’s what Virginia needs. More moderation. More republicans trying to be like democrats. You see…that will make you more “electable”. Be all things to all voters.


    • MD Russ

      No, Eric. What will really excite voters is a candidate who espouses core values and actually walks the talk in his positions. A candidate who calls for less government intrusion and then doesn’t call for laws that put the government between a patient and his or her doctor by banning abortion in cases of rape or outlawing withdrawal of life support for someone who is terminally brain-dead. A candidate who calls for smaller government and then doesn’t vote for pork barrel ear-marks. A candidate who calls for respect for all life beginning at conception and then doesn’t call for the death penalty for abortion doctors.

      Look around Virginia, Eric, and you will find elected Republicans who fit the dichotomies described above.

  • David A.

    I don’t think anyone is saying that moderation is the requirement for victory. I was simply saying a “firebrand” conservative will have an extremely tough time winning in Virginia. The Virginia a decade ago, probably not a problem. But that electorate simply doesn’t exist anymore. If it did, George Allen would be going back to the Senate.

    An “ultra” conservative can win, he just needs to leave the social issues out of it and talk about governing and what you plan to do in office. Preaching the conservative “gospel” in a state-wide race will most likely alienate independents and liberal Republicans. Unless you’ve got a liberal counterpart to the “firebrand” conservative, many in the middle VA voters would probably opt to vote for the Democrat.

    In order to govern, you first need to win. Just saying.

  • Just a reminder –

    In 2009, LG Bill Bolling received 1,106,793 votes and Ken Cuccinelli received 1,124,137 votes.

    They are BOTH electable by definition. They have both already been elected statewide in VA. Now who is going to effectively energize, strengthen and broaden the conservative base while reaching out and persuading the general electorate of our conservative principles?

    • David A.

      Broaden the conservative base? This is interesting. How do you see that happening when the conservative base decreases each year in Virginia? When you traditionally rely on white males and seniors and the other party covets youth and minorities, you would have to agree that time isn’t on your side. Demographically, the Virginia electorate is no longer what it used to be just like the nation as a whole.

      Of course they’re both electable, no one is saying they aren’t. However, if McAuliffe runs like Mark Warner did and Cuccinelli runs similar to a Santorum/Bachmann/etc. The GOP will lose. Game over. The ONLY way to run in this situation is as a common-sense Republican as Gov. McDonnell did. Leave the social issues at home and use your conservative credentials to talk about how you’ll be a pragmatic governor.

  • Summary of the choices facing the Rs in Virginia courtesy of South Park:

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