Virginiaâ€™s Lt. Governor Bill Bolling is going to have to lose a considerable amount of weight and drastically increase his time on the tanning bed to physically resemble Charlie Crist, but Bollingâ€™s ideological transformation is coming along nicely.
For those who donâ€™t follow Florida politics, Charlie Crist is the former Republican governor who intended to be the stateâ€™s new US senator in 2010. When Crist announced he was well known and could raise money â€” music to establishment Republican ears. Crist was immediately endorsed by the National Republican Senatorial Committee in an effort intimidate potential primary competition.
Life was good! Crist had essentially been handed the nomination. Time to order some staffer to start measuring for new drapes in his senate office. Except Marco Rubio decided to enter the race. Rubio had everything going against him but the voters.
Crist wasnâ€™t worried at first. But as the campaign continued, FL voters decided Crist was too cozy with Obama and lacked conservative commitment. Rubio won the primary and in a fit of pique, Crist changed his registration to Independent and ran as a spoiler.
Rubio beat him and the Democrat both.
Now really angry and wanting to â€ślash outâ€ť (thank goodness there werenâ€™t any â€śassault riflesâ€ť handy!) Crist endorsed Obama in 2012. And he just made the news by changing his party affiliation to Democrat. Proving Republican voters were correct all along.
Bollingâ€™s situation is quite similar. In 2009 he was in his first term and Bob McDonnell was the Attorney General. Both wanted to run for governor, but Bolling didnâ€™t want a fight â€” something that appears to be characteristic. As Pope Alexander IV divided the world between the Spanish and the Portuguese â€” McDonnell divided the top Virginia offices between himself and Bolling. McDonnell ran for governor and promised to support Bolling in 2013.
Unfortunately, the nomination is not McDonnellâ€™s to confer. The wealthy may be able to hand political office from relative to relative in Massachusetts, hence the â€śKennedyâ€ť senate seat, but Virginianâ€™s donâ€™t cotton to inheriting office.
Like the English in Pope Alexanderâ€™s time, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli ignored an agreement he was not party to and worked to secure the nomination. He packed the GOP central committee with his supporters. After Cuccinelli announced, the committee changed the nomination process from a primary election to a convention.
At which point Bolling avoided another fight and dropped out in the belief he could not win a convention in which strong grassâ€“roots support is a crucial factor.
Cuccinelli is not without sin in this saga. Ken initially promised voters he would run for reâ€“election, which I thought was an excellent idea. He broke that promise when he announced for governor, but as former Texas Gov. Bill Clements once said in connection with a lie he told, â€śWell, there never was a Bible in the room.â€ť
Few Republicans are as popular with liberals and their media choir as establishment Republicans defeated by a conservative. All it took for Bolling to become a statesman was for Cuccinelli to run him out of the primary. Now he is another unfortunate establishment moderate who â€” according to the media â€” is the best general election candidate. Unfortunately he canâ€™t win a primary dominated by the right wing.
Whatâ€™s wrong with mouthâ€“breathing TEA party types? Didnâ€™t they see how successful Republicans were with John McCain, George Allen and Mitt Romney?
Predictably, Bolling is now â€śgrowing in officeâ€ť as he starts emerging from his â€śCristsalis.â€ť Bolling has come out and opposed uranium mining in Virginia because he agrees with â€śenvironmentalistsâ€ť that it will create a hole in the ground. After the Newtown elementary school shooting, Bolling broke with McDonnell and opposed even researching the possibility of arming school staff. And Bolling warns he will be an â€śindependent voiceâ€ť during the 2013 gubernatorial campaign.
All thatâ€™s left for Bolling is to â€śevolveâ€ť his views on homosexual marriage and schedule a big hug photo op with Obama. Then heâ€™s free to enter the race as an independent and undermine Cuccinelliâ€™s candidacy.
Only Bolling wonâ€™t really be running as an Independent. Heâ€™ll be running as a Petulant. Nothing prevented Bolling from putting his supporters on the central committee. He wasted eight years instead of building a strong grassâ€“roots organization. Bollingâ€™s problem isnâ€™t Cuccinelli or conservatives; itâ€™s inertia.
Michael R. Shannon