Bolling breaks with McDonnell — again

December 19, 2012

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling broke on Wednesday with his fellow Republican and close political ally, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell, by opposing the possibility of arming teachers, principals and other staff at schools.

“The Lieutenant Governor believes that the job of a teacher is to teach and he does not support arming teachers,” Bolling’s deputy chief of staff, Ibbie Hedrick, said via e-mail. “If school security needs to be enhanced, it should be done by trained law enforcement personnel.”

A day earlier, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell (R) had remarked in a radio interview that Virginia should consider arming teachers, principals and other school staff to protect children from attacks like the one that killed 20 first-graders and six adults at a Connecticut school.

“I think there should at least be a discussion of that,” McDonnell said in response to a question on WTOP. “If people were armed, not just a police officer but other school officials who were trained and chose to have a weapon, certainly there would have been an opportunity to stop aggressors coming into the schools.”

Bolling’s break with McDonnell comes less than a week after he got uncharacteristically ahead of the governor on what is expected to be one of the most contentious issues of the General Assembly session that begins Jan. 9: uranium mining.

Bolling traveled to Danville Friday to announce he was against lifting the state’s 30-year-old ban on mining the radioactive element. McDonnell is said to still be weighing the issue.

Political observers saw the earlier move as a sign that Bolling, who is not seeking re-election after an abortive run for the GOP gubernatorial nomination, was seriously considering an independent bid.

Bolling put his own plans to run for governor on hold for McDonnell four years ago and has worked closely with him ever since. The lieutenant governor’s more independent moves of late follow his decision in November to bow out of the race for the GOP nod. He said at the time that he was considering a run as an independent.

Bolling has said he will not endorse his Republican rival, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II. Cuccinelli is expected to face Democrat Terry McAuliffe in the general election to replace McDonnell, who by state law cannot succeed himself.

Laura Vozzella covers Virginia politics for The Washington Post.
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