Virginia state politics just got interesting.
Actually, the commonwealth's governor race was already pretty interesting. (Read why here.) But this week Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling dropped out of the 2013 Republican race, giving current Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli a wide open path to securing that nomination.
Bolling announced his decision via email on Wednesday morning. Not surprisingly he cited the switch from a statewide primary to an “exclusive” party convention as one of the reasons. Ever since the switch in June, state party members have openly discussed how the switch favored Cuccinelli and would hurt Bolling.
“After a great deal of consideration I have decided to suspend my campaign for the Republican Party’s nomination for Governor of Virginia,” he said in his message. “Needless to say, this was a very difficult decision for me, and I know it will come as a surprise and disappointment to many, but I am confident it is the right decision.”
The message did not indicate if Bolling would seek reelection as lieutenant governor next year.
Bolling's decision now makes for another interesting match up between Cuccinelli and former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe for the governor's seat.
Both men are known on the national level and have access to deep pockets. And to quote the Washington Post, "Neither man could likely win a general election against anyone other than the person he is going to run against next year."
Continuing to cite the Post, here is why-
While nearly seven in ten respondents in a recent Quinnipiac University poll said they didn’t know enough about McAuliffe to offer an opinion on him, those that did were deeply divided — with 17 percent saying they viewed the former DNC Chairman favorably and 13 percent regarding him in an unfavorable light. The story was basically the same for Cuccinelli. While he is better known than McAuliffe (just 45 percent don’t know enough to offer an opinion), public opinion is also strongly split with 29 percent regarding Cuccinelli favorably and 24 percent seeing him unfavorably. (Not surprisingly, a head-to-head race between McAuliffe and Cuccinelli starts off close with the Democrat taking 41 percent to 37 percent for the Republican.)
In other words, if you know one of the men, you have a strong opinion about him.
So really, Virginia is headed towards a very party-line divisive gubernatorial race. Both men will have STRONG support coming not just from the state party, but from the national party as well.
Neither man could be construed as appealing to the moderate center of politics. One is a Clintonite Democrat, the other a key player in the legal battle against Obamacare. The swing state, and deeply purple, commonwealth of Virginia, is going to have a divisive battle on their hands to determine who their next governor will be.
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