There are Republicans who have been begging Bolling to stay out out of the race, including C. Daniel Clemente, a Tysons Corner lawyer and real estate developer who helped orchestrate someone else’s independent bid in 1994.
Upset that Iran-contra figure Oliver North had secured the GOP nomination for U.S. Senate, Clemente helped former Republican attorney general Marshall Coleman run against North and incumbent Charles S. “Chuck” Robb (D). Coleman finished a distant third.
“We ended up with 14 percent of the vote,” Clemente said. “And that was a monumental effort, with a very popular candidate, with strong backing in the conservative community and among moderate Republicans. . . . So when I met with Bill Bolling, I said, ‘Please don’t run as an independent. The only thing you’re going to do is hand the election to Terry McAuliffe.’ ”
Clemente said he likes Bolling but questions how hard he would work as a candidate and as governor, given that he did not do more to beat back Cuccinelli supporters as they worked to pull off the primary-to-convention switch.
“Cuccinelli was working out in the open, and Bill was coasting,” Clemente said.
Yet there are others who say they’d be willing to write Bolling big checks if he jumps in.
“He would have an enormous appeal to a lot of people who don’t like the extreme left and the extreme right, and that has been the story of Virginia politics,” said Earle Williams, a retired defense contracting executive from Northern Virginia.
Williams, who put $2 million of his own money into a failed bid for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in 1993, has assured Bolling supporters that he would offer financial support to his campaign. Williams said he thought it was important for Republicans to have an option besides Cuccinelli — someone he says he understands far less than his own primary opponent, George Allen.
“I could understand George’s positions on things even if I didn’t agree with them,” he said. “I just don’t understand Cuccinelli. . . . Cuccinelli represents, as far as I’m concerned, an outlier.”
Williams added: “I may have that completely reversed — I’m the outlier, and he’s the mainstream. I guess that’s what we’re going to find out.”