Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) accused Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) of lodging a “personal attack” against him after Cuccinelli announced he would run against Bolling in the 2013 governor’s race.
In a stinging statement last week, Bolling said Cuccinelli put “his own
personal ambition” ahead of the best interests of the state and the party in deciding to compete with Bolling for the GOP gubernatorial nomination.
“That’s a personal attack and I’d really rather not weigh into such things,’’ Cuccinelli said Monday in an interview with The Washington Post. “If I didn’t think I was the best person for the job, I wouldn’t get in it. I think voters are fed up with being told who they get to vote for. We’ll let them choose.’’
Cuccinelli and Bolling have not spoken since the announcement. The attorney general called the lieutenant governor Thursday afternoon after he told his staff he would run, but Bolling did not return his call.
Three years ago, Bolling and then-Attorney General Bob McDonnell (R) made a deal: McDonnell would run unopposed for the GOP nomination for governor, and four years later McDonnell would back Bolling for the state’s top job.
But the pact did not include Cuccinelli. He said he did not plan to make his candidacy official until the spring, but moved up his announcement after The Post on Wednesday reported his plans.
“We were put to the choice of, do we stand in the way of this and try to put the genie back in the bottle because a lot of things started to happen. . .or do we decide to ride it? And we decided to ride it.”
Cuccinelli said he will not resignas the state’s top law enforcement official to campaign for governor, as has been the general practice of his predecessors. That decision was questioned by McDonnell, who said it’s difficult to do both.
“Virginia is the only state in the country where attorneys general resign to run for other offices,’’ Cuccinelli said. “I talked to people in other states who have done this before I stepped into it, and they indicated to me that it’s entirely manageable. I took a lot of responsibility to be attorney general and that was not lightly taken. I’m obligated to make that the first priority.”
Cuccinelli said he would look out for potential conflicts of interest as attorney general as he begins to campaign for governor. Initially, he said, the campaign will be about raising money and engaging grass roots volunteers.
“We’ll certainly keep our eyes out for them and when they arise we’ll screen them out,’’ he said. “The way to solve potential conflict of interests isn’t to quit in my mind.’’
Does Cuccinelli think McDonnell questioned that decision simply because McDonnell supports Bolling?
“You’ll have to ask the Governor that,’’ he said.