Monday, March 04, 2013

Will Bill Bolling Play Spoiler in Virginia?

Candidly, I do not like either Ken "Kookinelli" Cuccinelli or Bill Bolling.   Both are extreme far right candidates when it comes to the issues of gay rights, women's rights, voter disenfranchisement generally,immigration and many other issues.  However, unlike Kookinelli, Bolling is not certifiably insane or - in my opinion a self-loathing closet case who channels his own self-hatred against normal gays - utterly detached from objective reality.    Naturally, since Bolling is (A) not an insane religious fanatic and (B) supported the recently passed transportation funding legislation, he is anathema to the Christofascists and Tea Party loons who worship Kookinelli.  Should Bolling decide to run as an independent for governor of Virginia, the impact could be complicated, but all things considered, I suspect the Democrat candidate will end up benefiting the most.  Bolling may be trying to position himself as a moderate Republican, but his voting record shows otherwise. A piece in Politico looks at the complicated electoral impact of a Bolling candidacy.  Here are highlights:

You’d think Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling’s ongoing flirtation with an independent bid for Virginia governor would be setting off alarms in GOP nominee’s Ken Cuccinelli’s world.
But it’s not necessarily a given that Bolling would sink the Republican nominee and throw the election to Democrat Terry McAuliffe. Experts say, and polling in the race shows, that the effects of a Bolling candidacy could be more complicated than that.

“The assumption at first was that Bolling would simply split the Republican vote and help McAuliffe, but now I think that’s seen as very simplistic,” said University of Virginia political analyst Larry Sabato. “Both of these candidates, McAuliffe and Cuccinelli, have big vulnerabilities … so for Bolling, the trick is going to be to pull [support] equally from both of them.”

While it would be premature to put much stock in polling at this stage of the race, early surveys show Bolling drawing support in roughly equal measures from Cuccinelli and McAuliffe.

Though they’re reluctant to say it, Democrats believe that as more voters start tuning in to the race, moderate Republicans will be turned off by Cuccinelli’s positions on social issues and look to Bolling instead. If Bolling could siphon enough support away from Cuccinelli on the right and among independents, it would leave ample opening for McAuliffe to win the race with support from Democrats.

Bolling has worked in recent months to position himself as a moderate Republican, criticizing Cuccinelli’s rhetoric and even casting the tie-breaking vote with Democrats in the state senate on voter ID legislation last month. As a result, he’d appeal to Republicans who like current Republican Gov. Bob McDonnell but may see Cuccinelli as too far to the right.

But for Cuccinelli backers, polling so far of a hypothetical three-way race suggests that Bolling would also pull support from moderate Democrats who have doubts about McAuliffe – and thus be less of a threat to Cuccinelli. In that case, Bolling’s entrance into the race could be a wash or even help Cuccinelli, if Bolling took more support from moderate Democrats than he does from moderate Republicans.

Guernsey speculated: “If Bolling were the candidate, you’d probably see the business community come out very aggressively on his side.”   Bolling could also appeal to suburban voters who are turned off by Cuccinelli’s positions on social issues but might not be sold on McAuliffe as an acceptable alternative.   “It’s really those high-income, highly educated suburban and exurban voters who would be open to [Bolling],” Sabato said. “They don’t agree with Cuccinelli’s social issue positions, but they don’t really take to McAuliffe.”

Bolling, for his part, says he’s not sure for whom he’ll cast his ballot if he doesn’t run. But speaking with POLITICO recently, the lieutenant governor suggested that McAuliffe’s message is closer to the one Bolling would deliver if he were a candidate.

“I think [McAuliffe] is attempting to run a mainstream campaign and I applaud him for that,” Bolling said. “His challenge is that people don’t know him and he’s going to have to define himself in this campaign. Mr. Cuccinelli faces a different challenge. His challenge is that people do know him and unfortunately, a lot of them view him as being too extreme.”

Sabato said he expects Bolling’s decision to come down to money and whether he can raise enough to compete – something Bolling has actively been exploring since the end of the state legislative session.  “If the response is cool with donors I don’t think he’ll run,” Sabato said. “If he’s hitting the jackpot with some of these donors, I think he will.”

Regardless of what Bolling does or doesn't do, for the sake of Virginia's future, it is imperative that Ken Cuccinelli be defeated.

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