Analyzing Bill Bolling, the Republican Party of Virginia’s Prodigal Son
Peter A. Finocchio, CRFV Parliamentarian
Bill Bolling is once again in the news, criticizing Virginia’s “extreme” Cuccinelli-Jackson-Obenshain gubernatorial ticket. Yesterday a Farmville Herald editorial contended that Bolling must root for this year’s Republican ticket to fail so that his new PAC, focused on electing “mainstream” Republicans, can be successful. Bolling has not denied this charge, instead opting to share the article on his own website. Since his failed attempt to defeat Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in a bid for the Republican nomination, Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling has drifted far from the conservative base and Virginia’s Republican Party. Because of his refusal to support our Republican ticket and his recent attacks against movement conservatives, he has been branded as a sore loser and a “RINO.” His recent actions are certainly characteristic of these labels, but Bill Bolling was not always this way. Bolling was once a highly respected leader in Virginia’s Republican Party. And it’s not too late for Bolling to come back to the party that he has, in the past, served so well.
While Bolling has been painting Cuccinelli as “too extreme” for Virginia, their records in the Virginia Senate were not very different from each other. In fact, two years ago one Virginia conservative website remarked that “in the state senate Bill Bolling was Ken Cuccinelli before there was a Ken Cuccinelli.” In 2009, Bolling was reelected Lieutenant Governor on a winning Republican gubernatorial ticket that marked the beginning of a conservative comeback in the Old Dominion. After the 2011 elections tied the Virginia Senate, Bolling cast a record 28 tie-breaking votes in favor of Republicans in the subsequent legislative session. His new role as tiebreaker in an evenly divided Senate enabled Republicans to pass conservative legislation, such as a new photo ID law for voting, that for years had passed a Republican House of Delegates only to die in a Democrat-controlled Senate. Bolling’s presence was so integral to Republican legislative prospects post-2011 that one key Democrat Senator, Don McEachin, filed, but lost, a lawsuit to block the Lieutenant Governor from being able to vote on certain matters.
Bill Bolling has been a respected friend of both the Republican Party and Virginia’s conservative movement for decades. It would be a shame for him to throw that away over embitterment from his failed gubernatorial bid. The aftermath of conventions and primaries is supposed to be a time of unity, when the Republican Party comes together to support its nominees. Bill Bolling can learn from the aftermath of this year’s convention, when former Attorney General candidate Rob Bell rallied behind Attorney General nominee Mark Obenshain, and runner-up Lieutenant Governor candidates Pete Snyder and Corey Stewart embraced nominee E.W. Jackson after a drawn-out contest. If Bill Bolling returns to the Party and movement that he has for so many years served diligently, then he may still have a future as a statesman in this Commonwealth. Contrarily, if he should choose to abandon the Republican Party, he will share the same fate as a recent turncoat, Lincoln Chafee, the Rhode Island congressman who recently switched parties, is now trusted by neither Republicans nor Democrats.
Like the prodigal son in the Bible, Bill Bolling has squandered the political fruits reaped through decades of service to Virginians. He has burned a lot of bridges in these past few months, but if he comes back to the fold and embraces our gubernatorial ticket, he can begin to repair the damage he has done to himself and to our Party. The Republican Party of Virginia will welcome home its prodigal son with open arms, overlooking recent transgressions in remembrance of so many years of loyalty and hard work. But not for long. Time is running out and once that door closes it will not reopen.
Edited by CRFV Deputy Communications Director Kate Gaziano
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policies or positions of the College Republican Federation of Virginia.