Just received a statement from Virginia Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling that the State Central Committee has switched the 2013 Gubernatorial Race from a primary to a convention. This is big news in Virginia politics. His rival Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli successfully won enough seats on the State Central to switch to a convention in recent elections.
Here is the statement from a clearly perturbed Bill Bolling:
“I am disappointed in the State Central Committee’s decision, which will effectively disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of Virginia Republicans, and all active duty military personnel, from participating in the nomination of our candidates. If we want to grow our party we have to involve more people in the nomination of our candidates, not fewer; and I believe that we do that through primaries, not party conventions. This decision creates the impression that our party is an exclusive party, as opposed to an inclusive party, and that is not the message we should be sending to the people of Virginia.
“In addition, I am disappointed that the State Central Committee chose to change the rules in the middle of the 2013 election campaign. In October of 2011 the State Central Committee voted to nominate our candidates for Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General in a statewide primary. Since that time, numerous candidates, including myself, have hired staff, made strategic and tactical campaign decisions, and expended hundreds of thousands of dollars to put together primary campaigns in reliance on the State Central Committee’s decision. These decisions cannot be undone and these dollars cannot be unspent. To change the rules now, in the middle of the campaign, is unprecedented and unfair.
“Based on discussions with our attorneys, it is my belief that the Committee’s decision to change the mode of nomination in the middle of the campaign may also create significant legal questions. However, I have decided that it would not be in the best interests of the Republican Party to pursue a judicial remedy. Right now, our party needs its focus firmly fixed on electing Mitt Romney, George Allen and our Republican congressional candidates in November. I will not take any action that might further divide our party or distract our attention from the 2012 campaigns.
“In the days to come I will aggressively move to restructure my campaign and prepare to compete in the convention process. I have run and won in conventions before and I will do so again in 2013. My candidacy enjoys the support of hundreds of Republican Party leaders and activists form all across Virginia, and thousands of grassroots Republicans who share my vision of mainstream, results oriented conservative leadership for families and businesses in our state. With their help I am confident that we can defy the political pundits and win in a party convention, just like we would have won in a statewide primary.”
I have to admit that Bolling has a point. This was an unnecessary move. I like both these candidates and would love to see both of them governor at some point. I also really respect Bill Bolling for taking one for the team in 2009 so Bob McDonnell could run unopposed in his quest to save Virginia from 8 years of incompetence under Democratic leadership. What he did then is extremely rare in today’s political arena and I think it took a lot of humility and class.
I also believe Ken Cuccinelli probably will win this race against Bolling whether it’s a convention or a primary. He made this change because a convention favors Cucinelli more than a primary but the difference is probably negligible.
Cuccinelli has every right to run but I’m disappointed at the way he’s doing it because Bolling deserves more respect. I realize politics is a bloodsport and this type of thing is expected but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. All this does is sets up an even bloodier battle that is going to divide the Republican Party in Virginia. My biggest fear is this will bloody the party up so much that it paves the way for Terry McAuliffe, or whatever other clown the Democrats put up, to win the highest office in Virginia. There is precedent for such a scenario as then Lieutenant Governor John Hager and Attorney General Mark Earley battled each other into a general election loss to Mark Warner. History may be repeating itself.