A Well-Telegraphed Punch Arrives

All the Democrats who have been screaming “scurrilous” and “pathetic” over the cartoon cutout of Kaine will I’m sure join in condemning Leslie Byrne’s new ad, which I first saw this morning. I couldn’t find a link. It is posted at www.lesliebyrne.org. It portrays Bill Bolling as a bobblehead doll, attacks him as a friend of the insurance industry and ties him to the legal problems of his former employer.

This punch was telegraphed well in advance and takes advantage of a well established truth of logic — you cannot prove a negative. The issue floated out in the primary but Bill’s opponent then never pressed it home (to his credit). Byrne trotted it out front and center at the Virginia Chamber of Commerce debate late last month. Byrne has zero evidence that Bill Bolling played any role or profited in any way from the problems with his employer, The Reciprocal Group, but she puts the burden on him to play the Nixon role and assert over and over “I am not a crook.” Bolling has quite a bit of evidence that he was not part of the problem at the firm and he was never a target of the investigation, let alone charged, but expect four weeks of her demanding more evidence, more records…demanding proof of a negative.

Creigh Deeds and Bob McDonnell have opened with some nice ads touting their experience, families, backgrounds, endorsements — ads that make you like them. At some point they are likely to take off the gloves. Kilgore and Kaine are probably keeping some positive ads in the mix, if not the 51 percent Sabato demanded. Leslie starts nasty and forces Bill to choose his opening card carefully. It is the political equivalent of leading trumps.

Share this article


(comments below)


(comments below)


  1. SouthoftheJames.com Avatar

    How dare she insinuate that a Republican is a tool of big insurance! Next thing you know, some GOP’er will start trotting out ads about how Tim Kaine should burn for defending the rights of death row inmates to the fullest. Oh wait, that’s been done….This stuff is typical Leslie Byrne. She’s a liberal throwback – and unashamed to say it. You got to give her credit for not trying to go mushy and fake voters out that she’s some kind of centrist or something. Personally, she’s far more entertaining than Bill Bolling, and from all appearances, a lot more thoughtful. That being said, she’s gotta do something to differentiate from Kaine if she hopes to not be dragged down by his sinking ship.

    The Creed/McDonnell race is actually interesting because there’s very little policy difference between the two. It’s great to see a race where the Dem is claiming the conservative mantle and the Republican never mentions his party. I wonder how a Deeds win, coupled with Kilgore/Bolling will play out over the next 4 years..Could he restore the “Virginia Democrat” tradition?

    — Conaway

  2. Waldo Jaquith Avatar
    Waldo Jaquith

    I don’t know what to make of the Byrne/Bolling tiffs.

    On the one hand, something like a bobblehead doll ad is lame and insulting — surely the charges could be presented without resorting to being so demeaning. (I’ll reserve “scurrilous” and “pathetic” until I actually see the ad.)

    On the other hand, I have to admit that I’ve rather enjoyed their carrying on. There’s something damned near nostalgia-inducing about such a good old-fashioned out-of-the-gates row like they’ve been having. Part of that is because I’ve been following the race from arm’s length — Creigh’s my man in Richmond, and the governor’s race is the governor’s race, but Leslie and I are only loosely and recently acquainted.

    I’ve got to admire a woman as ass-kicking as Leslie Byrne. I smile despite knowing it’s wrong of me. ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. SouthoftheJames.com Avatar

    As un-PC as it sounds, Leslie’s always had the biggest cajones in VA politics.

    — Conaway

  4. Anonymous Avatar

    “That being said, she’s gotta do something to differentiate from Kaine if she hopes to not be dragged down by his sinking ship.”


    Nice try anyway: more objective “attacknalysis” of the race. I’ve never seen so much slavish message discipline out of Republican blgoflaks. No wonder Republicans can violate virtually every single principle, from pro-life to small government, and illict barely a groan from their committed yes-men.

  5. Anonymous Avatar

    We groan, but always hiding behind psuedonyms or the ubiquitous “anonymous” ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Angry MD Avatar

    Despite the fact that I have no use for Leslie Byrne, have had the distinct pleasure of voting against her previously, and think her ad is childish, the fact remains that Bolling has a huge problem that he needs to address. A lot of people in the medical profession were hurt by the Reciprocal debacle. I have friends who lost a lot. Bolling may not have caused it, but he can’t deny being part of it. Bolling may have a good story to tell, but so far he has run from many opportunities to tell it.

    The problem is that Bolling’s financial reports show very high salary and a lofty, officer-like title with Reciprocal. This was at a time when: 1)Reciprocal was sliding down the slope of ruination and 2) Bolling was a State Senator. What did Bolling get paid all that reported income to do? Little or Nothing? Then he was being “kept” by Reciprocal for reasons that can’t be honorable. If he did enough to earn the money, then what the devil did he do for those crooks? To the limited extent Bolling’s people have deigned to address this issue they have vaguely hinted that he didn’t get paid as much as he reported. The $250K was a mistake. Well, that’s verifiable. Get the facts out.

    What I’ve always wanted to know is, when Reciporcal management realized the wheels were coming off, what chits did they call in from their apparently lavishly paid employee, Senator Bolling? Tennessee insurance authorities were the first to realize Reciprocal was in trouble. Was Bolling used to influence them? Was Bolling used to influence the Virginia insurance authorities to influence the Tennessee authorities? Was Bolling used (or did he do it on his own hook) to influence Virginia authorities not to follow Tennessee’s lead? What contacts did Bolling have, formal or informal, with Virginia authorities in his ambiguous role as State Senator/Reciprocal VP?

    The part that gripes me is that I feel very certain Bolling would not have had his position or his salary (whatever it was) with Reciprocal had he not been a State Senator. That’s not cram the money in your pocket corruption, but it’s corrupt. I’m sure he’s not the only one in the Senate or House of Delegates who makes money off these positions. There’s nothing in Bolling’s biography that he has any marketable skills or trade to make money any other way than to be a career office-seeker who capitalizes on his position to suck money out of the economy.

    Bolling and his keepers, by their silence on this, have made this all possible and possibly have hurt the other candidates on the slate. Here’s my opinion. I dare Bolling’s people to knock it down: Bolling got paid big money by Reciprocal because he was a State Senator, It’s the best money he ever made and couldn’t make it anywhere else. In return, he was on display as Reciprocal’s guy. As Reciprocal started having problems with state authorities, they hoped their links to Bolling might help them. Bolling did as much as he thought he could get away with to influence the Virginia (and possibly other states) regulatory environment to Reciprocal’s advantage. Some of my friends and colleagues were hurt as a result. This is my opinion based on the avoidance I’ve seen to date from the Bolling camp. If Bolling can tell me chapter and verse where I’m wrong, I’ll publicly recant on this website. He’d better get to it. Leslie Byrne should be easy to beat, but this isn’t going to go away. It stinks. I generally vote Republican, but I can’t understand how the party could dig up someone so seemingly without background or character for leadership. It’s very disappointing.

  7. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    Another bridge analogy: a peek is worth two finesses. And Angry MD, loyal R that he is, gave you a real good peek into the way this is going to be packaged.

  8. SouthoftheJames.com Avatar

    Anon: Obviously, you don’t know me. I don’t know where you get your info from, but I am not now nor have I ever been a Republican. It always amazes me how Democrats like you can attack people merely on the basis of your false assumptions. Maybe if you guys stopped hiding behind vails of anonymity, your party would get somewhere. No wonder the voters don’t know who you really are!

    And just for the record, I actually LIKE Leslie Byrne.

    — Conaway (my real name b/c I’m not scared)

  9. Tom Paine Avatar

    I’m a Democrat and I don’t like the Byrne ad. But its so nice to hear a little lecture about ethics from Steve Haner. We all remember when Haner–then director of the Republican Caucus–put out a memo to his troops urging them to question the merits of lobbyists’ bills by asking them why they contributed funds to Democrat campaigns.

  10. NoVA Scout Avatar
    NoVA Scout

    I don’t know Mr. Haner or Mr. Paine, but the Byrne ad is really scurrilous. If Byrne wants to make Reciprocal an issue, she has an obligation to get to the point and not imply a degree of participation that absolutely no one has alleged. Bolling’s no prize in the campaign delicacy department, but Byrne’s ad said much more about her than about him.

    But the comment up above by Angry MD does get at the heart of the matter. That is very powerful stuff and ought to be a major concern for everyone in the Republican camp, particularly Bill Bolling. I’ve sensed that the Kilgore people (or maybe Bolling’s own team) have urged Bolling to lie low through November. (not a bad tactic, given the opponent). His campaign has been low-key and there seems to have been very little joint campaigning. This is probably why. I don’t think that will work indefinitely if citizens like Angry MD keep asking the direct questions.

  11. Steve Haner Avatar
    Steve Haner

    Mr. Paine: Thanks for reminding some who keep forgetting that I once was a fierce partisan Republican — and good at it. Our paltry efforts to apply the strong arm in those days paled in comparison to the tactics of Moss and Cranwell, and no such memo existed. Rule number one — nothing on paper you wouldn’t want the Post to print.

    But I did produce a report card on lobbyist donations — all you had to do to get an A was give 40 percent to Republicans. It was very ethical! And worst of all — it worked and we started getting our fair share. Oh the hue and cry! Now VPAP produces the same data routinely — no more hue and cry.

  12. NoVA Scout Avatar
    NoVA Scout

    Hats off to you, Steve. Sounds like fair play to me.

  13. Tom Paine Avatar

    Haner is wrong –there was a memo and he did say that you should bring it up when the lobbyist came to talk to you about a bill in which he or she was interested.

    As far as the reference to “Moss or Cranwell” tactics–I don’t know about that. I never saw an article in the T-D charging them with such extortion.

    In any event, it sounds like Haner’s trying to justify his conduct with the old complaint that “everybody does it.” Well, everybody shouldn’t do it and Haner did it.

    He’s a weird one to lecture on ethics.

Leave a Reply