“Respected legal experts will tell you this is a nonissue,’’ he said. “This is nothing about nothing.”
Howard’s 1996 legal opinion was never put into use. Democrats, who had 20 senators and the lieutenant governor, intended to rely on it to control the chamber. But Sen. Virgil H. Goode Jr., a Democrat who later switched parties while serving in Congress, would not agree to the reorganization unless Republicans shared power in the chamber. The two parties shared control for four years.
Bolling said he is relying on Howard’s legal opinion as it relates to organizational issues. But he said he does not know whether he can vote on the budget, tax bills, bonds, constitutional amendments and judges. His staff indicated last week that it thought he could, but Bolling said Monday that he is doing more research. “There is conflicting opinions on that,’’ he said. “It is a less settled question.”
Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel (R-Winchester) called Democrats “desperate” and “sore losers” for threatening a lawsuit, which she predicted would damage them in the public’s eye. “Nobody wants to sit around and navel gaze and talk about stuff that doesn’t matter,’’ she said.
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II (R) has been asked for a legal opinion, his office confirmed Monday, but a spokesman declined to comment.
Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R), on a phone call from India where he was wrapping up an 11-day trade mission, said it was his understanding that “on organizational matters, the lieutenant governor breaks the tie vote.”
But McDonnell pledged to work closely with both parties and suggested that they could work out their differences.
“I will work with Democrats and Republicans to try to get results for Virginia,” he said. “In terms of internal [organization], I think the senators are perfectly able to work those out.”
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