The 2013 statewide election for Virginia’s governor is becoming more interesting by the day. The Republican presumptive nominee is Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and the Democratic presumptive nominee is former DNC chair Terry McAuliffe.
On March 14 Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling will make an announcement. The announcement is widely speculated that he will run for governor as an independent. It is feared Bolling would take votes away from Cuccinelli but polls show that may not be the case though it is too early to tell. Polls indicate as many as 40% are undecided.
In 2009 Bolling stepped aside for Governor Bob McDonnell with the promise of McDonnell’s support for governor in 2013. But Bolling was outmaneuvered by Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for the Republican nomination when the Republican Party of Virginia changed the nominating process from a primary to a convention that is scheduled for May 18. He made no secret of his feelings of betrayal by the RPVA.
Terry McAuliffe said in a speech that he’d be open to Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling filling a roll in his administration if he was elected in November. McAuliffe is seeking a bi-partisan administration, said McAuliffe’s Press Secretary Josh Schwerin.
Bolling accepted McAuliffe’s request to meet in Richmond. Schwerin, in an email, said, “Terry and Lt. Governor Bolling met to discuss policy and the state of the Commonwealth. Terry enjoyed the meeting and appreciates Lt. Governor Bolling taking the time to sit down with him.”
Ever since Bolling unleashed himself from the Republican Party’s hold, he has exhibited an independent streak and has on occasion broken ties in favor of Democrats in the evenly divided Senate. He has not been shy about voicing his opinion on issues that don’t follow the party line.
In a letter to Senate and House leaders Bolling disagreed with Governor McDonnell when he recommended expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). He compared it to legislation he proposed in 2000 that covered thousands of Virginia children.
“I believe the mounting evidence supports moving forward with the expansion, subject to our ability to obtain acceptable waivers from the federal government to implement critical Medicaid reforms.”
Bolling estimated that there would be a savings to the Commonwealth of $300 million from 2014 to 2018. He said it would also create an estimated 30,000 jobs. “As the Commonwealth’s chief job creation officer I am particularly mindful of these economic benefits.”
Bolling pushed legislators to move forward, “I am confident that there is no state better prepared to move forward on both reform and coverage expansion than the Commonwealth … To me the decision is straightforward.”
Bolling broke a tie in favor of Henrico Democrat Senator Donald McEachin’s amendment to delay until 2014 the implementation of tighter voter ID identification options. Senator Mark Obenshain’s “no exception” photo ID bill takes effect in 2014.
In a statement Bolling said, “We cannot change these requirements every year. I am concerned that this would create unnecessary confusion among voters about what forms of ID are required at the polls.” Bolling later broke the 20/20 party-line tie vote favoring the amended bill and it is expected to pass a vote by the Republican dominated House.
The surprise Senate redistricting amendment to HB259 that was introduced to make corrective adjustments to House district boundaries was also opposed by Bolling. The amendment made major changes to Senate districts that would have made Democratic districts more favorable to Republicans.
Without Bolling’s support Senate Republicans passed the bill by for the day until a Democratic Senator Henry Marsh was attending President Obama’s inauguration. It caught the Democrats flat footed with only 19 members present. When the bill reached the House, Speaker Bill Howell declared the amendment not germane to the relief of the Senate Democrats.
If Bolling runs as an independent he would leave the powerful Republican Party machine behind. Cuccinelli is a Tea Party favorite and McAuliffe as former DNC chair is perceived as far left. Bolling believes that there is an opening in the political middle.