February 28, 2013

Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who dropped out of Virginia’s Republican gubernatorial contest, is sending a clear signal he’s ready to jump into the race as an independent.


Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (Steve Helber/Associated Press)

He sends out a mass e-mail today, which reads in part:

I have sought to call us to a higher purpose, focusing more on policy and less on politics; and more on the next generation than the next election.

The reaction to this more mainstream approach to governing has been amazing.  Over the past few months I have been contacted by business and community leaders from all across Virginia and encouraged to re-enter the race for Governor as an Independent Republican, and I have been objectively assessing that possibility.

Let me assure you that I have not entered into these deliberations lightly.  I have been a loyal Republican for the past 25 years.  No one has done more or sacrificed more for the Republican Party than I have.  But quite frankly, this is a challenging time for our party and I’m concerned that our party is headed in the wrong direction.  That’s why there has been so much interest in an Independent Republican campaign.

He attaches to his e-mail blast some internal polling showing his favorable/unfavorable rating is better than Republican Ken Cuccinelli and Democrat Terry McAuliffe. The polling shows 67 percent open to an independent run, with both major candidates polling under 40 percent in a three-way race. Bolling, without yet officially campaigning, draws 15 percent. He argues that he “can run a credible Independent campaign that can draw strong support from Republicans, Democrats and Independents.”

Bolling says he will decide in two weeks, but this suggests he is already off and running. Normally a move like this would only damage the official GOP candidate. But in this case the Democratic candidate is weak (as we saw from his failed run in 2009), and it is possible Bolling will draw equally from his two opponents. Moreover, McAuliffe has set about running a campaign built around the idea that Cuccinelli is an extremist; so what’s his beef with Bolling?

As I have written many times, Cuccinelli and McAuliffe are both very flawed candidates with high negatives. Could Bolling be the answer to Virginians who abhor Cuccinelli’s extremism but don’t want a Democratic money man with no elective experience dragging the state to the left? We will find out.

Jennifer Rubin writes the Right Turn blog for The Post, offering reported opinion from a conservative perspective.