In the early stages of the 2013 gubernatorial race, it seemed as if Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling would be the unquestioned Republican nominee. Due the deal struck four years earlier between now Governor Bob McDonnell and Bolling, where Bolling would forgo running for governor for McDonnell in exchange for future political support, who would able to stand up against the combined political strength of these two men?
Then Ken Cuccinelli entered the picture. Ken Cuccinelli, the dynamic Attorney General of Virginia who garnered national attention for his stand against Obamacare, tossed his hat in the ring for governor. Some people in Republican circles had hoped that Cuccinelli, following Bolling’s example four years prior, would run for re-election thus giving Bolling a clear path to the Republican gubernatorial nomination. After several months of uncertainty, Ken Cuccinelli announced that he was entering the race for governor. Given the popularity of Cuccinelli in conservative circles, this decision alone would have made a very difficult path for Bill Bolling’s victory going forward. However, when coupled with the factor that the Republican Party of Virginia then switched their nominating process from an open primary to a convention, Cuccinelli became a virtual lock for the party nomination. Cuccinelli had established himself as a rock star among conservatives and although feared by liberals, the closed process meant that Democrats and independents would have no hand in the party’s nomination process.
With these exceedingly difficult circumstances, Bill Bolling recently withdrew from the Republican nomination for governor. At that time, he refused to endorse Cuccinelli for the post. Given that Bolling had been seeking the nomination for governor presumably since first running for lieutenant governor in 2004, the fact that he would not readily endorse the man who he likely believed stole the nomination from him isn’t too surprising.
However there was one startling development as Bolling floated the idea of continuing his campaign for governor as either an independent or a third-party candidate. The prevailing thought was that Bolling would not run in 2013 but was merely using the idea as a way to vent his frustration about the whole process.
But it seems that the idea of Bill Bolling for governor is not dead. Over the weekend, I was sent the link to a website that is actively promoting his candidacy. It seems that Gail “for Rail” Parker, a candidate for U.S. Senate in 2006, and the Independent Green Party of Virginia are working to get Bolling’s name on the ballot. According to the site, the petition drive for Bolling began on January 2nd of this year. The real question becomes is this effort independent of the Lt. Gov. or is website part of his exploratory run?
I’ve said on several occasions that Ken Cuccinelli will be the next governor of Virginia. However, if Bill Bolling runs either third party or as an independent, it is possible that he could draw enough support from disaffected Republicans to radically change November’s outcome. Will this movement led by Gail Parker derail the Cuccinelli campaign train? Will Bill Bolling run for governor?