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All is not fair in love or politics: Bolling throws a tantrum

December 9, 2012 12:11 am


Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling announced last month that he was suspending his campaign for governor. edwals09.jpg

GOP nominees Bill Bolling (left), Bob McDonnell (center), and Ken Cuccinelli presented a united front in 2009.

I ADMIT IT. I love 2-year-olds. They are, hands down, some of the cutest people on the planet. Two-year-old eyes dance with happiness, their exuberance is boundless, and if you could bottle their energy, you'd have the next blockbuster vitamin supplement. As Bill Cosby once said, "If I had an army of 2-year-olds, I could take over the world."

As darling as they are, 2-year-olds are prone to tantrums when the world doesn't go their way. They are still egocentric: Reality not matching their expectation creates quite a hubbub. While meltdowns in a 2-year-old are developmentally normal, in adults the behavior is not so endearing.

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling chose to clamorously drag himself out of next year's gubernatorial race, bemoaning a number of reasons in an email to supporters. Citing his blue-collar roots, he gives a sense of pride in his accomplishments. I always find it somewhat amusing when politicians do this--it's almost as though they seek credit for their own blue-collar credentials by association.

Bolling paints himself as both a Virginia lover (not a bad thing) as well as a martyr and victim of the political process: "Four years ago, I decided to set my personal ambition to be governor aside and join with Bob McDonnell to create a united Republican ticket. Time has proven the wisdom of that decision. Gov. McDonnell and I were elected in 2009 by historic margins, and for the past three years we have successfully worked together to get Virginia back on the right track." There are a number of striking thoughts in this paragraph.

First, his reason for seeking public office is personal ambition. This is the worst possible reason to run for office. Run because it is the best thing for the country, or the state, or because you feel called to do so, but for Heaven's sake, don't cite personal ambition! Time has proven the wisdom of his decision--in other words, he didn't like it at first. Gov. McDonnell circumnavigated the traditional route to his office as well but was by far the better candidate the last time around.

Lt. Gov. Bolling did the right thing--it just took him a while to realize it.

Gov. McDonnell and Lt. Gov. Bolling were indeed elected by wide margins and so was Attorney General Cuccinelli. In fact, Cuccinelli's vote count exceeded Bolling's by 17,344. This tidbit was left out of the email. The tally was Gov. McDonnell: 1,163,651 votes carrying 58.61 percent, Lt. Gov. Bolling: 1,106,793 votes carrying 56.51 percent, and Attorney General Cuccinelli with 1,124,137 votes carrying 57.51 percent.


Apparently, Bolling was surprised by Cuccinelli's decision. Really? Didn't Bolling ask for Mr. Cuccinelli's endorsement as soon as the ink was dry on his pact with Gov. McDonnell for his endorsement the next time around? Didn't Cuccinelli say he would let the people of Virginia decide who their nominee would be in the next four years? For all Bolling's convention vs. primary angst, he himself was nominated during the Republican Convention of 2009.

The whine wails on: "In addition, I know how divisive conventions can be, and I was concerned that a prolonged campaign between Mr. Cuccinelli and me could create deep divisions within our party. The convention process would have forced Republican activists to take sides against their friends in local committees all across our state. The wounds that can develop from that type of process are often difficult to heal."

This is a lame attempt at escaping responsibility for Bolling's own decision to withdraw from the race and shift it to the imaginary possibility of friendships ending over support of different candidates. Bolling seemed happy enough to run when the convention nominated him in 2009.

In an interview with The Richmond Times-Dispatch [Nov. 28], Bolling notes that he'd been pinning some of his hopes on the coattails of a Romney victory. Goodness! Candidates should run on their own merits and not count on coattails a year hence. Coattails should be gravy, not the main course. In the same interview, Bolling asserts that he cannot "in good conscience endorse [Cuccinelli's] candidacy for governor." I don't think Cuccinelli has changed much in the last four years since Bolling ran with him on the ticket. What has changed is the competition. Bolling complains about the rules and the other candidate, and he's picking up his bat and ball and going home. These are the hallmarks of a sore loser.

Spare me the drama of this style of party unity. One of the greatest problems in the Republican Party when it comes to candidate selection is the "it's my turn to run" attitude. This is perhaps the most dysfunctional mentality within American politics--running because "it's my turn."

It is sheer lunacy to have a candidate run because "it's my turn." Those candidates lose, and there's a long list of them. Forget about "my turn"; that's British protocol. Prince Charles is still waiting.

Put the right person up for the job. Petulant politicians must understand that sometimes the answer is no. Live with it. There's more to life than politics.

Mary Walsh is a freelance writer in Spotsylvania County.

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