Virginia Governor's Race May Split Three Ways

When Virginia Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling dropped his bid to seek the Republican Party's 2013 gubernatorial nomination last week against Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, political observers scored Cuccinelli's likely nomination as a Tea Party victory. 

But Bolling later signaled that he may run as an independent against both Cuccinelli and Terry McAuliffe, the Democrat who is likely to win his party's nomination. 

In 2009, Bolling made a deal with current Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. Bolling would not challenge McDonnell for the gubernatorial nomination and, in return, he would be assured the party's gubernatorial nomination in 2013.

Before Bolling dropped out, Richard Viguerie, chairman of ConservativeHQ.com, wrote that "between now and 2016, there is going to be a knockdown drag-out fight for the soul and direction of the Republican Party – and Round One is going to be the 2013 Virginia Governor’s race.”

“Cuccinelli’s race is also the first chance following 2012 for the Tea Party to demonstrate its permanency in politics,” Viguerie wrote. 

In a statement, Bolling said he intended to “remain actively involved in the 2013 campaigns – perhaps not as the Republican nominee for Governor, but as a more independent voice.”

Bolling emphasized to Virginia political analyst Bob Holsworth, a veteran Virginia political analyst who has moderated many a statewide debate and has been praised by both parties, to focus on his use of the word “independent,” suggesting that he was considering mounting an independent run for governor.

Last week, at the Republican Party Advance in Virginia, Cuccinelli said Virginians had a chance in 2013 to "show the country that conservatism isn't dead," is not "old or worn out," and is “still alive and thriving." 

“Over the years, many people have told me that they may not agree with me on every issue, but they appreciate knowing where I stand,” Cuccinelli said. “And they feel confident voting for me because they know exactly what they're getting: a no-nonsense, constitutional conservative who will watch out for every Virginian.”

Holsworth, one of the deans of Virginia politics, said conservatives believe their last two presidential candidates -- John McCain and Mitt Romney -- lost because they were too moderate and want "a real principled conservative who will articulate conservative values in a compelling way.”  

"Ken Cuccinelli is going to be a test of that thesis," Holsworth said.


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