Don’t send me the Bill. Bill Bolling today announced that he will not run for Governor of Virginia in 2013. A copy of the Lieutenant Governor’s full statement can be found on his website. In the missive Bolling admits that he seriously considered an independent run. He also believes that he would have been a good candidate and the right kind of governor for Virginia. However, he cites three main reasons for not running – fundraising, alienating the Republican Party and the current hyper-partisan political process.
Channeling Woody Hayes. Woody Hayes was best known as the iconic head football coach of Ohio State. He was once quoted as saying that, “Only three things can happen with a forward pass and two of them are bad.” Hayes’ boring approach led the Ohio State Buckeyes to a 205-61-10 record. I suspect that Bill Bolling might be looking at this election in the same way Woody Hayes looked at forward passes.
Could Bolling win? Probably not. Ken Cuccinelli’s hijacking of the Republican nominating “process” (think of the Cantina Scene from the original Star Wars) left Bolling too little time for fund raising. As Bolling wrote in his announcement, “ To run a winning campaign I would have needed to raise at least $10-$15M. That’s a very difficult thing to do without the resources of a major political party and national donors at your disposal.”
Perils of menage a trois. If Bolling ran and lost he would face a dim future regardless of who won. If McAuliffe won Bolling would be blamed by the Republicans for costing Cuccinelli the race. Then he would disappear into the unelected woodwork in a McAuliffe Administration. If Cuccinelli won it would be after campaigning against Bolling. No doubt “the Cooch” would feel that he won in spite of Bolling. No room at the inn in a Cuccinelli administration.
He who turns and runs away. Lives to fight another day. By dropping out Bolling has opened a pretty big door. He’s still probably toast if Cuccinelli wins. Cuccinelli as governor becomes the face of the Republican Party in Virginia and bad blood takes a long time to dry in this state. Meanwhile, Bolling goes back to his insurance executive gig without any particular spotlight. However, if McAuliffe wins it’s a different story. Cuccinelli ends up in the wilderness while Bolling leads the opposition. Plenty of spotlight for an opposition leader – even if he doesn’t hold elected office.
60 ways to leave your lover. Bill Bolling was born in June, 1957. He’ll have just turned 60 at the time of the next governor’s election in 2017.
Playing the odds. Much of what I have written has been discussed by others – especially Paul Goldman. However, I’ll take what’s been said a step further – Bolling needs Cuccinelli to lose. In fact, the worse he loses, the better for Bolling’s 2017 chances. Bolling’s calculation involved assessing his odds of winning against Terry McAuliffe’s odds of winning. Once he decided that McAuliffe had a better chance to win than he did, the die was cast.
What do you feed an invisible cat? Evaporated milk. Look for Bolling to disappear during the campaign. Remember, he needs Cuccinelli to lose (preferably badly). But he can’t risk alienating the Republicans by speaking out against “the Cooch.” Bolling’s third reason for not running (hyper-partisanship) gives him cover during this election. As Bolling writes, “Politics is much different today than it was when I was first elected. In many ways I fear that the ‘Virginia way’ of doing things is rapidly being replaced by the ‘Washington way’ of doing things and that’s not good for Virginia.” How long will Bolling refrain from re-entering the mud of modern day Virginia politics? Until Nov 6, 2013.
– D.J. Rippert