WaPo: Bolling Actively Pursuing Independent Gubernatorial Bid

As first reported on Bearing Drift and now picked up by the Washington Post:

“We’re very seriously evaluating the feasibility of an independent campaign,” Bolling said. “I have been meeting with a number of business leaders across the state to discuss that possibility. We’ve done some polling to assess where we might stand in a three-way race. There’s a lot of due diligence to be done to asses the feasibility of an independent campaign for governor, and we continue in the process of doing that due diligence.”

Bolling has not been raising money, something he will be prohibited from doing during the 30-day General Assembly session that begins next week. Even without that prohibition, Bolling said he would not raise funds unless and until he decides to run. He said he expects to make a decision by early March.

Skeptics still doubt the longtime Republican loyalist will cross his party — even a party that spurned him in favor of his chief rival, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R), by changing the way the GOP nominee will be selected.

This after recent activity online attempting to show netroots support for an independent bid all but locks up the speculation.

Two questions remain: (1) Is Bolling serious about this effort (2) even if it means he’s simply the spoiler?

For conservatives who were in the cold when Bolling and McDonnell made the deal to go to primary, this sure ingratiates the rank-and-file who — thought at times not patiently — waited their turn when nomination methods and contests did not go their way.  To see that the shoe doesn’t go on the other foot?  Well… that’s disappointing, but not entirely unexpected.

  • Man scorned. As much as I do not want to see a dem win, it is Bills right to run as an indy if he chooses. I supported an indy in 2010 who to this day still takes heat for it as do I for supporting him yet I respect it was his decision and right to run independent. Bill could run, dare I say Splitting conservatives, locking up donors and guaranteeing a McAuliffe win.. This is not the way we want to start 2014.

  • Nathan Miller

    I look forward to voting for Bolling if he decides to run. Cooch is a joke.

  • Loudoun GOPer

    If Bill were just an average guy who hadn’t used the Republican Party to lift himself into the position he holds today, then sure, you could say he has the right to run as an Independent. But let’s face it. The only reason he would run as an Independent would be to throw the election to McAuliffe, and the only reason he would do that is because he is a small, petty, vindictive man who has decided that if he can’t be Governor, no other Republican is going to be Governor, either.
    For all the “meetings” and “polling” and “due diligence” Bill says he is doing, there is no way anyone believes he can actually win by running as an Independent. Obama just proved that the Independent vote doesn’t matter anymore. Romney carried the Independent vote by large margins in the swing states this year, but lost those states because Obama got his base out to vote and Romney didn’t.
    I think this upcoming General Assembly session is going to be extremely entertaining to watch as Bolling starts lobbing bombs at Republicans, trying to make himself look like that “Independent Voice” he is talking about. You will probably be able to see the smoke coming from his ears as he furiously calculates how he should break ties on key conservative bills, trying to figure out whether he should look more conservative to try and steal votes from Cuccinelli, or should he try to look more moderate to attract Independents.

  • Seems to me that Bolling may be doing republicans a favor by making it clear that if the party continues on its current path, it will be so far to the right that future successful elections on the state level become impossible. I mean objective observors of the last year in which the evangelical right made a mockery of personal freedom and liberty, and engaged in the most partisan and extreme social agenda, and lost Virginia while failing to deal with the major issues facing this Commonwealth, someone with common sense might conclude that Cuccinelli is too exteme and out of touch with the mainstream.

  • This is why the establishment needs to be kicked out – they will NOT support grassroots conservatives when push comes to shove. All they are interested in are the power and perks of office and influence.

    Anyone with the whiff of establishment about them should be treated as pariah as we take our party back.

    • Like the two-term state senator, now Attorney General and gubernatorial candidate Ken Cuccinelli? I appreciate the sentiment, but this “establishment” nonsense is only masking the problem.

      It’s not “establishment” that’s the problem – it’s those who fail to abide by conservative principles that are the problem.

      • If Cuccinelli were establishment, there wouldn’t have been a deal to cut him out of the Governor’s race this year.

        We’re talking about two sides of the same coin – there’s no one in the establishment who actually has conservative principles.

        You can recognize establishment by finding people who are strangely prominent despite little record of accomplishment and never taking a stand on conservative principle *cough* Jeannemarie Davis *cough* Barbara Comstock *cough*

        • There was never a deal to cut him out of the race. There was a deal between Bob McDonnell and Bill Bolling that Bolling would step aside in return for McDonnell’s support the next go around. When this decision was made, Ken was one of three candidates for AG – he didn’t run unopposed.

          Ken is as establishment as anybody else. He is not a political outsider, which should be proof to anybody out there that this establishment vs. outsider nonsense is just plain nonsense. That’s not the crux.

          • I think Alexis was referring to the fact that McDonnell and Bolling secretly wanted John Brownlee to be the Attorney General nominee in 2009 instead of Cuccinelli, hence making Cuccinelli “anti-establishment.” It was no secret that several McDonnell and Bolling operatives like Phil Cox, for example, were also quietly assisting John Brownlee’s campaign. Remember those McDonnell-Bolling-Brownlee signs from the ’09 RPV Convention? Those signs were too polished to come from an anti-establishment outsider.

          • I honestly don’t remember seeing and McDonnell-Bolling-Brownlee signs. The only memories I have of that convention were that McDonnell and Bolling came out to “Up Around the Bend” by Credence Clearwater Revival, and Ken’s speech with the Gadsden flags waiving in the aisles and the arena going insane.

          • The McDonnell-Bolling-Brownlee signs did exist. They were not as abundant as the Gadsden flags, but I saw them and others can vouch for me. The McDonnell and Bolling campaigns did not sign off on them. However, the fact that consultants like Phil Cox and a few others were working for McDonnell and Brownlee simultaneously lends credence to the assertion that Brownlee was the “establishment” favorite even if McDonnell and Bolling themselves never lifted a finger to push the AG race in a certain direction. Never do the dirty work yourselves. Always delegate it to your surrogates and keep yourself a few steps removed from the process.

            Many McDonnell, Bolling, and Brownlee supporters feared Cuccinelli getting on the ticket. I heard countless complaints from Brownlee supporters and Dave Foster supporters about how Cuccinelli was going to “drag down the ticket” because he is a right-wing bomb thrower (Full disclosure: I voted for Dave Foster.). It turns out that it was Bolling who was a drag on the ticket because Cuccinelli got more votes statewide than Bolling.

            To get rid of the semantic arguments, let us define “establishment.” If we define establishment by who is in power, then we can make the easy case that Ken Cuccinelli is “establishment.” His people control the RPV. Cuccinelli himself has been in elected office since 2002. He is not outside the system and knows full well the inner workings of government.

            I argue that Ken Cuccinelli is “anti-establishment.” Yes, the establishment is the ruling class, but we have to break down the definition further. If a ruling class has controlled an organization over a long period of time through its preferred individuals and institutions, that ruling class is “establishment.” Team Cuccinelli has only recently took hold of power within the RPV. It is too early to call Team Cuccinelli an established ruling class.

            For most of his political life, Cuccinelli has never been the preferred candidate of the established ruling class. Most of the influential leaders, donors, and activists of the Fairfax County Republican Committee rallied behind Mike Thompson in the 2002 State Senate primary, not Cuccinelli. Cuccinelli went on to win a seat in the Senate of Virginia.

            However, holding an elected office does not make an individual a part of the establishment simply by having the power that comes with elected office. There is a certain order and hierarchy of cliques within institutions of power, or any institution for that matter. In order to be accepted into the establishment, or the “cool kids,” one must perform actions and inactions to garner the favor of the establishment. Keep your head down, do what you are told, and don’t rock the boat.

            Cuccinelli was never a preferred Senator for the Senate Republican leadership. He refused to go along just to get along. He proposed bills that he was told to scrap in order to be a good “team player” and not force vulnerable Republicans to make politically inconvenient votes. He did not care to make friends. He was there to advocate his principles. Cuccinelli succeeded in this regard by relying on strong grassroots support for his initiatives at the expense of winning favors from the Senate leadership. Cuccinelli remained anti-establishment throughout his State Senate tenure.

            We then had the ’09 RPV Convention and the Attorney General nomination process. Let me reiterate that many McDonnell, Bolling, Brownlee, and Foster supporters openly said to other activists that Cuccinelli could threaten to destroy everything the Republicans were trying to do. They said that Virginia needs common sense, mainstream conservatism that would appeal to the wine and cheese people of Northern Virginia who are not of Cuccinelli’s culture. They freaked out when Cuccinelli ran away with the nomination on the first ballot because he bussed people to Richmond who were never involved in the process before. Some campaign offices in Northern Virginia did not even carry an adequate supply of Cuccinelli paraphernalia out of fear of being tied to Cuccinelli by the moderate McDonnell voters who might vote against the House candidate if they saw too much of Cuccinelli running around with the House candidate. Even on the statewide ticket, Cuccinelli was still not welcomed with open arms so he was still anti-establishment in ’09.

            In 2010, Cuccinelli interjected in the 11th Congressional District Republican primary. He endorsed Keith Fimian over Pat Herrity. Pat Herrity had all the support from the major leaders in the FCRC and had much support from the elected officials as well. For full disclosure, I too was an ardent Pat Herrity supporter.

            Thanks to the Cuccinelli endorsement, Keith Fimian was able to activate a gigantic Republican coalition that existed outside of FCRC and won in a landslide. Keith Fimian did not win because he was best buddies with the FCRC leadership. Fimian won because he had to go outside of the power structure and established base and activate the outsiders that Cuccinelli led. Cuccinelli was still an anti-establishment outsider in 2010.

            Now we see the tables turned. Cuccinelli masterminded a wholesale takeover of the RPV in 2011 and he is now the de facto leader of the party. If we are talking about 2013, then yes, Cuccinelli has arrived and he can fit the definition of “establishment.” Team Cuccinelli is no longer on the outside. Team Cuccinelli is the ruling class. They are now the “cool kids.”

            Meanwhile, the old guard that consists of McDonnell, Bolling, Gilmore, Allen, Cantor, Davis, et al is losing influence. The tables have turned and now everyone has to get with Cuccinelli’s program if they want to have any hope of getting power and/or, more vacuously, any hope of becoming a celebrity via politics. After all, “politics is Hollywood for the ugly.”

            Politics is made up of cliques. Cliques that are in power like power to be handed down to one of their own – somebody who dresses alike, talks alike, and acts alike. A boss would rather hire a friend’s kid instead of hire a well-qualifed stranger. Tribalism is human nature.

            Human nature and the rough and tumble world of politics create strange bedfellows. McDonnell now endorses Cuccinelli not because they are best buddies or because McDonnell is in awe of Cuccinelli’s prowess. McDonnell does it because it is his obligation as a “good Republican” and a “team player.” He might run for President one day and will need help. He can’t afford to alienate anyone just because Bolling was his preferred choice.

            Anyone who makes their career out of politics and/or has aspirations to run for office in the future has to accept the fact that Cuccinelli is in charge now. They know who holds the purse strings. They have to swallow the pill and get with the program because they are now on the outside. They can only hope to win the blessing of Team Cuccinelli so that they can be welcomed into the new establishment.

            I write all of this as a person who is staying out of the gubernatorial race. I have personal reasons for doing so. Yes, I have never been on the same side as Cuccinelli in any intra-party battle that has divided the party.

            Arguably, I AM part of the RPV “establishment” that is looked upon with scorn by Team Cuccinelli. Yet, while I’m not a big fan of Cuccinelli, I do not like it when he is mischaracterized.

            There is so much that people don’t understand about Cuccinelli because he IS anti-establishment. Despite my loquaciousness here, I have only begun to scratch the surface of what I know about Cuccinelli’s operation. He did not garner political power the old-fashioned way by playing nice and buttering up the “cool kids.” That is a good thing. He fought the power, set up his own independent operation outside of RPV and FCRC, and won many times.

            Cuccinelli is still misunderstood by many today for those same reasons. He wasn’t the pre-2011 RPV establishment so many insiders have not had enough opportunities to cozy up to him at cocktail parties over wine and cheese. Cuccinelli was too busy raising money by shooting skeet with regular working-class non-FCRC people.

          • Chad Parker

            I don’t remember seeing those signs either. And if the signs did exist, it was the Brownlee camp, without the knowledge or approval of Phil Cox and his subordinates like Mike Reynold or Dave Rexrode.

            It’s interesting that you wait until the last of your 19 paragraphs to make the distinction “he wasn’t the pre-2011 RPV establishment.” Your definition of “establishment” also assumes warring intraparty factions storming the political barricade and exiling the “ruling class.”

            (Un?)fortunately, Phil, party politics is not a dramatic episode of Game of Thrones. . .at least not since Jeff Frederick’s ouster. When Cooch won the nomination in 2009, he assimilated into the existing establishment. He toured with McDonnell and Bolling, participated in fundraisers sponsored by the RPV, and had tea with the Tuckahoe Republican Women. The unified McBolliNelli ticket won by a landslide, and Cooch took office. Because VA’s AG is an independently elected official, he was able to maintain enough separation between himself and McDonnell/Bolling in order to prepare for a possible primary, allowing staff to paint him as the “anti-establishment,” but still maintaining support of the RPV.

            Did some party members prefer Bolling? Sure. But enough opted for Cooch. It wasn’t a coup, it was internal establishment politics. Need more proof? Look at who Cooch tapped for his campaign manager: McDonnell Deputy Campaign Manager and RPV Executive Director Dave Rexrode.

          • Can’t say that I remember those signs, either.

          • I don’t remember the signs but do remember being told that McDonnell and Bolling wanted Brownlee, by many people. And all the “drag down the ticket” crap too. I ignored all of it and obviously a large majority of the convention did the same.

  • MD Russ

    Anybody remember Sen. Russ Potts and his role in electing Gov. Tim Kaine, now US Sen. Tim Kaine?

  • One the one hand, I can’t see Bolling running as an independent knowing the consequences that will come. With that said, he’s already alienated and pissed off a large portion of the GOP and grassroots conservatives. So, what more does he have to lose (besides the election, of course)?

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