By Peter Galuszka
It’s not even 2013 year and the maneuvering in the gubernatorial race is mystifying, showing disarray in both political parties.
Mild-mannered, former GOP loyalist Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling is showing new backbone that can only be taken to be mean he may well run as an independent now that he has abandoned the Republican candidate slot to Attorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli whom he publicly despises.
On Dec. 14, Bolling, who had been programmed by Gov. Robert F. McDonnell as his administration’s “jobs guy,” took the unusual stand of opposing uranium mining, a deeply controversial issue in Southside.
You couldn’t ask for a stronger Declaration of Independence from the GOP machine. McDonnell officially claims he is neutral on lifting the 30-year-old ban on mining for uranium. But he’s done just about everything he can to set things up so the General Assembly may do just that. His Uranium Working Group, made up mostly of lobbyists, just came out with a report showing what Virginia would have to do if it dropped the ban and actually let Virginia Uranium proceed with plans to tap 119 million pounds of the radioactive ore at Coles Hill Farm near Chatham.
While McDonnell projects his public-consumption “hands off” stance, one of his lieutenants, Sen. Bill Stanley got caught making late night phone calls to Pittsylvania County Supervisors urging them not to take a stand on the moratorium. And McDonnell who wants to go down as the “Energy Governor” does seem to place more attention on fossil fuel and nuclear power than renewables.
That is why Bolling’s strong stand against mining is significant. He joins a host of other mining opponents including the Virginia Farm Bureau, Norfolk and Virginia Beach which get significant drinking water from near the mine site, and a host of others. The North Carolina legislature is considering a draft legislation against the mining since the Tar Heel state is next door and would get none of the benefits of mining and milling uranium ore.
Bollings’ defection and now this suggests huge turmoil in the State GOP after the Democrats big win in November.
All not well on the other side of the aisle, either. With U.S. Sen. Mark Warner and former U.S. Rep. Tom Perriello not running for governor, the candidacy seems to have gone automatically to Terry McAuliffe, who failed in primaries for governor the last time around.
McAuliffe, a big time Democratic schmoozer on the national level and investor, is dynamic but somehow is cast as being distrustful. The Associated Press has a story for instance of how Virginia officials were not impressed when McAuliffe pitched them a plant to build tiny electric cars. Some, such as fellow blogger Donald K. Rippert, say that McAuliffe is actually being unfairly maligned and that he’s simply doing what many entrepreneurs do — pushing innovative projects that might or might not make it. That’s what Mitt Romney did with Bain Capital and ditto Mark Warner with Columbia Capital in Alexandria back in the 1990s.
Still, the McAuliffe baggage is so heavy that some think the Democrats really need to look elsewhere. Over at Bearing Drift, Norm Leahy has been flying a trial balloon for U.S. Sen. Jim Webb as a better Democratic possibility.
Norm’s idea is intriguing, but I haven’t seen it get picked up anywhere. To be sure, Webb’s legacy in the Senate was mixed and he seems much more interested in national and international issues, such as Burma. Plus he never stays in one office for very long.
This being the case, Bolling is seizing up his chance as an independent and they might be good. The Cooch will get the hard right fringe, but so what? They didn’t do the GOP much good against Obama in November. The whole Tea Party-Limbaugh-O’Reilly-Hannity media schtick is passing into irrelevance anyway. McAuliffe, if he is as bad as everyone seems to say, will fail to hold the Democratic middle or attract cross-over Republicans.
“Jobs Guy” Bolling might actually be creating a job for himself.