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Selecting A Second (POLL)

December 19, 2011 1 comment

The biggest political news in Virginia over the last few weeks has been the emerging primary between Lt. Governor Bill Bolling and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. Well, to a certain degree….that story is slowly being overtaken by talk of the Governor’s agenda for the upcoming General Assembly Session and the upcoming Presidential Primary (though if Virginia will have much impact right now is anybody’s guess).

However, a new survey from Public Policy Polling (a Democrat leaning firm in North Carolina) put the conversation back in the news. Right now, Cuccinelli has a tentative lead over Bolling, 44% to 25%. A few issues with this poll–one, they use automated polling, rather than live interviews. Two, there’s no indication in the toplines that there was any real attempt at geographic weighting. One big issue right now for Bolling is that he simply doesn’t seem to generate much attention from the GOP faithful, despite having been in the limelight for the last seven years, stemming back to his first run for his current job. While his net favorable is +24%, 52% of primary voters don’t have an opinion of him. This compares to Cuccinelli’s net +41%, with 27% not having an opinion. However, Bolling is already attempting to heighten his profile, starting with this WaPo profile on his new role as the state’s “part-time decider” (referring to his new role as the tie breaking vote in the State Senate). Meanwhile, Cuccinelli has fired back at some of the key criticisms of his decision in an email to supporters shared at Bearing Drift.

So all that’s going on….but what about the race for the silver medal? That is to say, what about the Lt. Governor’s race? Right now, the other race ginning up alot of attention is Bell v. Obenshain v. Fairfax Circuit Court Clerk John Frey for Attorney General. Historically, here in Virginia, Attorney General has been the preferred stepping stone to the Gubernatorial nomination, but that all really depends on just how things play out in the general. If your AG candidate lose but the LG wins, then they suddenly find themselves in the catbird seat. Given that Virginia has few statewide offices compared to neighboring states, its not a bad place to be if your aspirations eventually head in the direction of the Governor’s mansion. So, naturally, the position tends to draw stiff competition, even if, statutorily speaking, its pretty dang boring (though most LGs preside over the Senate more actively than their federal counterparts and McDonnell has given Bolling more duties to Bolling than usual, the primary duty is still the macabre responsibility of waiting for the unthinkable to happen).

So, who wants this possible diamond in the rough? Here’s the rumored/announced contenders so far:

Announced On the precipice of announcing, but not quite yet…..

  • Prince William County Chairman Corey Stewart–So far Stewart is the only announced candidate for Lt. Governor. Corey has been making the rounds for several years around the state and already earned a great deal of cachet through his localities efforts on illegal immigration. He would not be the first local elected to make the leap from county politics to the state level (his predecessor, Sean Connaughton, ran for the position in 2005), but he’s probably the best positioned, coming from a key locality for statewide campaigns. He also carries less of the baggage that weighed down Connaughton in terms of fiscal issues. Furthermore, Stewart is also guaranteed to shake up the debate on localities versus the state in a way that Warrenton Mayor George Fitch failed to do in his quixotic 2005 Gubernatorial campaign. UPDATE: Corey isn’t exactly announced, but he’s definitely way more “in the game” than the rest of the field. So I’ll keep him separated from the rest of the bunch with the caveat that he’s not announced–but he’s more or less running.

Rumored

  • Keith Fimian–Mr. Fimian has twice been the GOP nominee against now Congressman Gerry Connolly (formerly Fairfax County Chairman). Fimian came very close to an upset in 2010, but alas, no cigar. However, he still has a large following and certainly would start out with some strength in 2010–something that would make the roadmap more difficult for Stewart. However, Fimian won’t start with much of a base outside of the 11th unless he really steps up his operation over the next twelve months, and as a two time loser may have an image problem to overcome. Still, he’s a dynamic figure and one to watch at this stage.
  • Pete Snyder–Mr. Snyder is the founder of New Media Strategies, an Arlington based social media firm. He recently left the firm to start a venture capital firm, Disruptor Capital, and to head RPV’s Victory 2012 program. Snyder is certainly well known within professional political circles, but less-so-amongst rank and file activists. However, he has strong business ties (ones that will only get stronger with his new venture) and his part in the Victory program will bring him a higher profile over the next year. Again, his NOVA ties are a plus. However, his part in the Victory program could possibly be as much a hinderance as a help, as there will likely be pressure for him not to be campaigning while trying to win Virginia for the GOP.
  • Ed Gillespie–Former RPV, RNC, and McDonnell for Governor chair, Gillespie has a long, long history of Republican political work. He’s going to bring not only political expertise to the table but also financial ties and likely a top notch management team. Gillespie won’t likely be able to bank on NOVA ties as much as the aforementioned candidates. He’s one of those Beltway types who lives in Virginia because, well, what professional Republican wants to live in Maryland (Sorry Krystle, but if its any consolation, I still want Crabs for Christmas)
  • Senator Jeff McWaters–I’ve gotta admit, I’m somewhat in the dark on McWaters, other than he won a special election for the seat of now Sheriff Ken Stolle down in VA Beach. Also, he’s earned a 92% rating from the American Conservative Union–not shabby. It would be a big jump to go from one and change terms in the State Senate to a statewide bid–right now, I imagine the talk is driven largely by the lack of other contenders from that part of the state. But he’s not a horrible fundraiser and was certainly generous with his money in 2011, so we shall see.

So that’s the field right now. I have them all included in the poll above, so vote away….well, them plus one. Right now, as a wild card, I’m including Delegate Ben Cline. Why? A few reasons. One, although is pretty much assumed that Delegate Cline is the heir apparent to Congressman Goodlatte, Goodlatte is pretty young in Congressional terms–he could conceivably serve another decade or so, so long as he beats off his upcoming primary challenge (and right now that seems like a good bet). Cline has a leadership PAC (although its seen little activity), and he hosted a hospitality suite at the Advance this year. He’s put himself through law school since he started his run in the House. I’d be surprised if Cline, a young comer by any account, sits still for too long–it’d be curious for someone to go from LG to Congress, but hey, stranger things have happened. At just 39 Cline certainly has room to grow, so hey, why not?

I suspect that the field we discuss now will not be the one we end up with in June of 2013. I suspect a Richmond based candidate will pop up, and I would be very surprised in that many NOVA based candidates stay in. In 2005 there were 5 candidates flirting with LG at one time or another but only 2 ended up on the ballot. It’s a big task getting on the statewide primary ballot (ask Emmet Hanger), so we’ll revisit this later. For now, though, have fun, and include any additional rumors you’ve heard in the comments.

The Style Primary

December 5, 2011 Leave a comment

The problem with taking the time to gather your thoughts, at least in the blog world, is that there’s probably someone out there who’s quicker on the draw than you….you wanted to get all the facts straight, double check everything, but somebody else already has (or isn’t too bothered by those pesky “facts”). And so it was with this post, where I had the basic idea that Cuccinelli v. Bolling isn’t going to come down so much to the issues but as a pure contest of political style.

First, DJ over at the Right Wing Liberal:

Very little distances either man on issues: In the State Senate, both Cuccinelli and Bolling established low-tax, low-spending, and culturally conservative records. They even made the same mistake (backing the Howell version of HB3202), and walked it back during the critical but now nrealy-forgotten 2008 special session. We may see some dramatic magnification of miniscule differences, but I doubt it will be enough for any neutral (of which I am one) to go one way or the other.

……

As candidates, Bolling and Cuccinelli have very different skill sets. This is the political version of apples and oranges. Bolling is steady, predictable, and affable; all excellent qualities in a candidate running on a good record in an electorate generally favorable to him. Cuccinelli, by contrast, is dynamic, originial, kinetic, and on occasion hyperactive. Many more voters would be comfortable with Bolling than Cuccinelli (good for voter breadth). Cuccinelli forces voters to think, takes risks that could be game changers, and never backs down from a challenge, thus appealing to voters who are more focused and engaged (good for voter depth). To make things even more complex, each man’s traits could be strengths or weaknesses depending upon the political climate – and that means the political climate could be the one thing that determines which one would be the better candidate.

Chris over at Mason Conservative has much the same thinking, though he framed it more in regional terms:

Its a battle between Richmond and Northern Virginia.

 

The agendas of business interests, local governments, and even the citizens themselves of Richmond and Northern Virginia are different.  Richmond is old Virginia.  Its business interests are defined by old bankers, law firms, and tobacco companies that have been bankrolling Virginia elections since forever.  Northern Virginia is defined by developers, contractors, dot.coms, environmentalists, public servants that come from PTAs and HOAs and where education and transportation and the biggest issues.  And when you look and the needs of both regions of the state, then look at the relative small size of the state budget (compared to other states), there isn’t enough money for both of them.

………

You want to know why Bill Bolling is so outraged at Ken Cuccinelli?  Because Ken represents the biggest threat to the power of Richmond in this state it’s ever seen.  He’s charismatic, made a national name for himself, never was able to be controlled in the senate, and he cannot be pushed aside as a “moderate” someone downstate conservatives would be embarrassed to support.  Bolling has done things the Richmond way.  He’s paid his dues, worked hard, been loyal, said and done the right things, and waited his turn.  Just like all of them.  There isn’t much of a difference in politics between the two, which is a much bigger problem for Bolling.  Ken can’t be brushed aside like Davis was by the claim he’s some wishy-washy Fairfax moderate RINO.  That card is gone, and Bob Marshall proved in 2008 how strong a conservative with a NOVA base can be in a primary, and Ken only confirmed that in 2009 with his drubbing that he laid on two other candidates.

Ken is like Northern Virginia because he doesn’t play by the old rules, he doesn’t care about who’s turn it is, he doesn’t care about the old way of doing things.

And so goes my thinking. What we have here isn’t so much a fight over issues as a fight over style. Bolling comes from the political school of thought that you need to bide your time. Principles are important…you wouldn’t be bothering with this if you didn’t have something pulling you in, right? But what good are you going to be if every time someone challenges you your first move is straight for the jugular? Work the vineyards, move up….you’ll get your chance to make a difference. Cuccinelli doesn’t quite see things that way…..its all about principles, values. You’re either right or you’re wrong. You’re not doing it right if you don’t fight in the streets, leave no stone unturned, refuse to confront people. That’s the whole point, isn’t it?

Which I think is what makes all of this so disconcerting for so many activists. Let’s face it—RPV is predominantly conservative. Yes, there’s a few, just a few old hat moderates left, but their numbers are dwindling every year. And yes, there’s always someone right behind you saying that you’re not conservative enough……remember, it wasn’t even twenty years ago that George Allen and Ollie North’s people were looked upon with some distaste. It wasn’t so long ago that Allen was the outsider…..and Bolling was one of his guys. But things change. So who do you go with? The guy who takes no quarter on your issues and is willing to lose, so long as he’s right—or the guy who was there all along, used to even be more like his now opponent, but waited, worked for this moment?

A sidenote: A lot of people seem to be framing this in the context of “Republicans always go with the guy whose turn it is.” First off, this is largely based off of experience in presidential primaries—Bush ‘88, Dole ‘96, McCain ‘08. This is comparing apples and oranges. I’m not convinced that “its his turn” holds as much sway as it did prior to the Tea Party rise and their domination in primaries in 2010, nor that it ever really existed below the presidential level—ask former Delegate Clint Miller if he thought it was Allen’s turn in 1993. Secondly, these races are very different—yes, presidential primaries are a long slog, but there you’re dealing with contacting millions of voters in different states, each with its own nuanced system for choosing delegates to the national convention. Here, you’re dealing with getting voters in one state out on just one day (remember, the State Central Committee has already settled on a primary). Yeah, sure, you need to target your areas of the state, but they’re not weighted—whoever gets the most voters wins. Finally, the reason we’ve ended up with “the anointed one” in many past GOP Presidential primaries is not so much that they were always the front runner—Buchanan was whipping Dole hard before South Carolina, and Bush had lost more contests than he won up to South Carolina in 1988. McCain was in a similar situation, and even the Gipper lost Iowa to George H.W. Bush in 1980. The reason they ended up winning was because either they were prepared for the long slog or the new favorites of the activists withered under the hot lights of the media. Say what you will about Cuccinelli upending the order—fair or not, he’s been through this before, as has Bolling, but to a degree he’s had it tougher in no small part to his narrow re-election to the State Senate in 2007. Cuccinelli, love it or hate it, is ready for prime time.

To underscore just what’s going on here in terms of this being more a contest of style than issues, I decided to do a little more research—I decided to actually LOOK at both men’s records. Well, scratch that—I decided to look up where the two men have stood in the eyes of various groups, left and right, that dare to rate members of the General Assembly.

Two important caveats here. One, let’s keep in perspective that Ken and Bill only served concurrently for three sessions—2003 to 2005. If you follow the GA, you know that no one session is quite like the other. Sure there are perennial bills, but those are not the ones that define each session—those bills come up year after year because they always fail. The issues that define each session change. Secondly, just as both men are going to go over each other’s records with a fine toothed comb, so did these interest groups. The bills that each group takes into consideration are rarely, if ever, a complete record of every bill that touched upon that group’s issues, and those issues change from year to year—which is why one year you may get a 100% rating but the next 40%. But until I or some other intrepid blogger gets the time to examine every bill both men voted on (which will likely be around the time one of them or their Democratic opponent is sworn in), this will do.

This information is gleaned, largely from both men’s pages at ProjectVoteSmart (Ken here, Bill here). If either camp wants to correct the record here, I welcome it. So with no further ado:

Cuccinelli and Bolling: Interest Group Ratings

Key:

NS—Not Serving in the body that was rated

NR—Not rated (group did not issue ratings)

All scores are out of 100% unless otherwise noted

Abortion

Virginia Society for Human Life (Pro-Life)

1999

2000

2001

2002

2004-05

2004-2007

Cuccinelli

NS

NS

NS

NS

100

100

Bolling

100

NR

100

100

100

NS

NARAL/Pro-Choice Virginia (Pro-Choice)

2002

2004

2005

2008

2009

Cuccinelli

NS

0

0

0

0

Bolling

0

0

0

NS

NS

Planned Parenthood (Pro-Choice)

2004-05

2009

Cuccinelli

0

0

Bolling

0

NS

Business
Virginia National Federation of Independent Businesses

1996-7

1998-99

2000-01

2006-07

Cuccinelli

NS

NS

NS

100

Bolling

100

83

100

NS

Virginia Chamber of Commerce

1998

1999

2000-01

2002-03

2005

Cuccinelli

NS

NS

NS

NS

82

Bolling

88

89

79

89

100

Virginia Foundation for Research and Economic Education
97 99 2000 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09
Cuccinelli NS NS NS NS NS 62 68 82 NR 61 94 89
Bolling 84 85 100 79 86 71 67 100 NS NS NS NS
LGBT Issues
Equality Virginia

2003

2004

2005

2007

Cuccinelli

0

0

0

67

Bolling

100

0

0

NS

Social Conservatism
The Family Foundation

1999

2001

2002-03

2004-05

2006-07

2008-09

Cuccinelli

NS

NS

100

100

92

91

Bolling

88

93

100

100

NS

NS

*Note: The Christian Coalition did ratings prior to Ken’s service. Bill received a 95% in 1997 and 100% in 1999.

Education

Virginia Education Association

1998

2002

2004

2005

2006

2006-07

2008

Cuccinelli

NS

NS

33/0*

67

80

78

75

Bolling

30

43

33/0*

50

NS

NS

NS

*Note: I found two different scores for 2004; both are included here
The Environment
Virginia League of Conservation Voters
99 2000 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09
Cuccinelli NS NS NS NS 17 11 0 43 50 57 10
Bolling 33 60 100 80 20 50 0 NS NS NS NS
Labor
Virginia AFL-CIO
99 2001 2002 2003 2004* 2005* 2006 2007 2008 2009
Cuccinelli NS NS NS 9 0 0 0 0 0 0
Bolling 0 0 50 0 6 11 NS NS NS NS
Gun Rights
National Rifle Association
1999 2003 2005* 2007 2009*
Cuccinelli NS A NR A A+
Bolling A A A NR A+
*Note: Bolling’s 2005 score is for his first LG run. Both men’s 2009 scores are for their respective statewide runs that year. The NRA assigns alphabetical grades that are based both on legislative work and survey responses
Virginia Citizen’s Defense League
I’m having trouble working out percentages here, since VCDL assigns one grade but VCDL-PAC is the one that hands out endorsements. Suffice it to say that both men, as far as I know, have been endorsed by VCDL in all of their runs throughout VCDL’s history. However, if I am wrong here, please let me know. Candidate surveys can be found here—figured I’d provide the source on this one because of the very nuanced nature of this exercise (or rather, the fact that too much nuance will earn you scorn from VCDL).
Conclusion
Obviously there’s a lot to chew on here, and again, this is only the tip of the iceberg. If you’re highly interested in all of this, I suggest tracking down the actual scorecards for that year—again, something’s gotta be up for both men to earn over 50% from Equality Virginia once while pulling in zeroes the rest of the time—same with their wildly gyrating League of Conservation Voters Scores. This is the tip of the iceberg, and we have over a year and a half to go, but for right now—its pretty clear that the two men are relatively close when it comes to core issues for the Republican base. (As DJ pointed out, they both even made the same mistake by backing the miserable transportation plan in 2007, abuser fees and all). I have no commentary beyond that—just wanted to throw this out there.
Corrections, additions, and just plain criticism welcome.

Mullins more than Mulling

December 3, 2011 Leave a comment

I broke it–well, insinuated at the possibility by reading in to something, anyways–first, but Bearing Drift confirms: RPV Pat Mullins will be seeking re-election at next June’s State Convention. The State Convention will likely be lightly attended compared to 2008 and 2009, as no nominations for federal office will be at hand (well, other than the nominations for Republican at-large presidential electors). However, the Chairman is still an important position as RPV heads into 2012 and 2013.

Over the past few days I have started calling folks to let them know that I intend to seek re-election as Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia at the 2012 State Convention and to serve a full 4 year term. I hope to talk to you directly in the next few days or chat with you at the Advance about this decision.

When you first elected me Chairman in the spring of 2009 our party was deeply divided and reeling, as we had just come off our worse electoral defeat in a generation. Barack Obama had just won our electoral votes, the Democrats had just taken a 6-5 Congressional delegation majority, they held the Governor’s mansion, a state Senate majority, and both of our U.S. Senate seats.

I believe that because of this adversity, we all came together and worked together to change the direction of not only our party, but the Commonwealth of Virginia. We did it together.

In 2009, with your help and those of thousands of other grassroots activists, we elected Bob McDonnell, Bill Bolling, and Ken Cuccinelli and added six seats to our majority in the House of Delegates.

In 2010 we defeated three incumbent Democratic Members of Congress and came within a few hundred votes of defeating a fourth. We flipped the Democrat’s 6-5 Congressional majority to an 8-3 Republican majority which helped elect Congressman Eric Cantor as U.S. Majority Leader.

In 2011 we added seven additional seats to our majority in the House of Delegates and defeated two incumbent Democratic state Senators to gain control of the Virginia Senate.

And while the past three years have been some of the most successful our party has had, we cannot rest on our laurels. The elections of 2012, 2013, 2014 and beyond are critical for our party and our nation.

I am seeking to serve as Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia for another four years to keep the momentum going and to continue to elect Republicans who will stand strong for our shared principles.

Mullins has done a fantastic job as chairman. He’s one of the best judges of political horseflesh we have out there (and why not–the man’s occupation is insuring horses!), and it shows. RPV has one of the best professional teams its has had in years, and the proof is in the pudding–the Governorship, both lower constitutional offices, control of the GA, and a majority of the state’s congressional delegation. There’s still plenty of work to be done, but RPV is in very good shape right now. No major gaffes on Mullins’ part, and the man is a true workhorse (if not exactly a dynamo) on the trail.

Is RPV perfect? No. I think there’s still a great deal of work to be done. I personally would like to see more engagement with local units–not just providing resources but helping to create a culture of campaigning, with every single member of every single unit viewing their job not just as a sinecure that shows their “dedication” but taking an active role in every campaign, in whatever way they can or are best able to. RPV also has some work to do with winning the data war, as there seems to be a feeling that Voter Vault is not at all what it could be.

However, I think Mullins is the man to continue this battle, particularly as someone who has put in the time as a county chair. RPV has also done fairly solid work with helping party units on procedural matters. The only real issue that one could take with Mullins is on the perrenial “convention v. primary” battle–but even there, Mullins is not the one to “blame.” That’s a decision made by the State Central Committee writ large, some of whom are elected directly at the District Conventions, some who hold the position by virtue of election to head an auxillary organization, some by elected office, and others elected by the District Committees, which consists of unit chairs. If you prefer a convention system, this is the year to hold the individuals you elect to party office accountable on this issue. To punish Mullins for a decision reached by a whole swath of people directly and indirectly elected by party activists would be to take away a steady hand at the wheel, the one keeping everybody together.

Unless something happens on the road to the convention or a much, much more compelling figure arises (and they’re going to have to have a heck of a record), Mullins is my prohibitive pick for Chairman next June.

Advance on the Advance

December 2, 2011 3 comments

The last twenty four hours has put a whole new spin on the Republican Party of Virginia’s annual retreat/conference, the Advance. Certainly spirits were expected to be high, given the GOP’s narrow gain of control of the State Senate and continuing enthusiasm for unseating Barack Obama. Of course, as is always the case, various figures were anticipated to start jockeying for position for statewide bids. Which ones, exactly, we didn’t know…..

Then last night the picture became a whole lot clearer when it was leaked that AG Ken Cuccinelli is preparing to announce a bid for Governor. It was expected that this wouldn’t happen until after the Advance, but, now its all out in the open. Cuccinelli has pretty much made it official, starting with an email to his staff that was leaked this afternoon:

You have likely heard in the media the many rumors about an announcement of a run for governor. While I wanted to wait to announce a candidacy until after the General Assembly session, as the rumors swirl, I find it necessary to put them to rest.

After much prayer and consideration, I have decided to run for governor in 2013. I have always intended to let you know before the media. Shortly after you receive this email, I will be sending a statement to the media announcing my candidacy.

Also of note: Cuccinelli stated that he would buck the recent tradition of AGs who seek the Governorship resigning to focus on their campaign/make sure the citizens have a full-time AG (depending on who you ask). Generally this doesn’t happen until the spring of election year, so I find it interesting the Cooch went to lengths from the start to say he wouldn’t be doing that.

We will continue this work together until the last day of my term. Just as I had intended not to resign as attorney general to run for a second term, I will not resign as attorney general to run for governor. The people of Virginia trusted me to be their attorney general, and I intend to give them their full four years. I also think it is important to see these lawsuits against the federal government all the way through, as they are unprecedented battles for liberty in our lifetimes.

I am committed to you and to the citizens of this commonwealth to leading this office and making this job my priority. I have no right to ask the voters for a promotion if I cannot continue to do my current job well.

Meanwhile, there’s been reaction from all corners, ranging from enthusiastic to downright icy. The only reaction anyone really cared about, though, was Bill Bolling’s, and as expected, he is not pleased:

Needless to say, I am very disappointed by Mr. Cuccinelli’s decision to run for Governor in 2013.  During the 2009 campaign, and since taking office in 2010, Mr. Cuccinelli had repeatedly stated that he intended to seek re-election as Attorney General in 2013 and that is what I and other Republican leaders had expected him to do.  Unfortunately, he has now decided to put his own personal ambition ahead of the best interests of the Commonwealth and the Republican Party.

But that much we figured. Bolling, however, has already been able to get the Governor squarely in his corner:

Virginia is fortunate to have both Ken Cuccinelli and Bill Bolling serving in statewide office. They are dedicated public servants and I enjoy working closely with them on a daily basis. While I do prefer a scenario in which both men continue to serve in statewide office together going forward, I certainly respect the right of the attorney general to make his own decision regarding future races. Since early 2008, I’ve been clear that I will strongly support Bill Bolling for Governor in 2013. Bill is a trusted advisor and a close, personal friend. As Lieutenant Governor, Bill has been a key member of our Administration. Serving as our Chief Job Creation Officer, Bill has been tireless and successful in his work to bring more jobs and economic opportunities to the Commonwealth. I look forward to supporting Bill in his campaign for Governor.

So what about the people who will actually decide this thing–you know, Republican voters? Again, reaction has ranged from enthusiastic to ambivalent to polite but disapproving to downright icy, with many in the comments sections of some of the state’s top right leaning blogs cheering for Cuccinelli but just as many chastising him for upending the “system”. Two bloggers have suggested Cuccinelli back off and run for re-election–one a Bolling supporter who fears a bloody primary will upend the party’s chances and another who specifically wants Cuccinelli around to fight UVA on the global climate records issue (UPDATE: for the record, that author is neutral between Bolling and Cuccinelli). For what its worth, in my extremely unscientific and lightly traveled poll, Cuccinelli and Bolling are tied, although there’s a bit more support for Ken running than not. Meanwhile, at Bearing Drift’s equally unscientific but far more participated in poll, Cuccinelli is leading Bolling 64%-32% (for some reason, they included neither rather than undecided). In the only scientific polling that has been done, an automated poll by PPP last August, Cuccinelli garnered 45% to Bolling’s 21%.

Others are bashing Ken for not upholding his “word”. For what it’s worth, as Chris at Mason Conservative points out, Ken wasn’t party to any agreement between McDonnell and Bolling, though at an AG’s debate in 2009 he said he wouldn’t:

“Will you pledge tonight that if elected Attorney General, you will support Bill Bolling for Governor in 2013 and not run against him?, asks Jay Warren.

“That’s just not something I would foresee happening.”, says Cuccinelli.

“So equivocally no?”, asks Jay Warren.

“Yes. Correct.”, responds Cuccinelli.

But he was guarded enough to say he didn’t foresee it….so that was then, and this is now. As I pointed out before, Cuccinelli is a darling of the right, not just at home but across the country. Indeed, rather than being at the Advance on Saturday Night, Cuccinelli will be playing a role as a moderator of a Fox News Presidential forum in New York City. (No word on what his Friday night plans are)

So if we’re looking at a Bolling-Cuccinelli match-up for the big job, where does that leave us for the rest of the potential field for other statewide offices? It was assumed that Lt. Gov. would be the only prize open, but now, it looks like that and AG will both be up for grabs. First out of the gate to finalize his plans is my own State Senator Mark Obenshain, who has announced (unofficially, at least) for AG:

Harrisonburg Republican Sen. Mark Obenshain confirmed Thursday he’s exploring a bid for attorney general in the 2013 statewide election as news broke about the future plans of that office’s current occupant.

A more formal announcement from Obsenshain is expected soon — he said he’ll make his intentions clear after Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli declares his plans for the next election. (Cuccinelli is expected to reveal his plans to run for governor in the near term.)

I won’t be shy about sharing this–I’m with Mark. I’ve worked with him since his very first run for State Senate in 2003 (when we shared the back of a pickup truck following a sudden downpour after a July 4th parade in New Market–he got us all to dry land post-haste–my kind of leader). In his time in the State Senate Mark has been a solid leader on issues like eminent domain reform, auditing VDOT, strengthening law enforcement in the battle against the scourge of crystal meth, and the like. He’s also not too shabby of a lawyer, having been repeatedly been named as one of Virginia Business Magazine’s Legal Elite. He brings both the heft on public safety and the sound legal mind we should be looking for in an AG contender. Obenshain will be hosting a hospitality suite at the Advance for himself on Friday night and as part of the Conservative Caucus with Delegate Ben Cline on Saturday night.

Also on tap, Corey Stewart. For what, though, we don’t quite know yet:

Prince William County Board Chairman Corey Stewart just won reelection last month but he’s already eyeing higher office.

Stewart said he will make an announcement in January about a run for statewide office — an office in Richmond.

Earlier this year, Stewart considered seeking the GOP nomination for the U.S. Senate but eventually ruled that out. He recently endorsed George Allen.

Stewart’s made no secret of his ambition to seek higher office. He won’t yet reveal which job he’ll seek, but today Republican State Sen. Mark Obenshain, who had been seen as a leading candidate for lieutenant governor, said he’s exploring a bid for attorney general instead now that Ken Cuccinelli will run for governor instead of seeking reelection.

Stewart has received high praise for his local battle against illegal immigration in Prince William County. Stewart’s biggest obstacle will be his record as Supervisor–not that he has a bad one, as the average tax bill in PWC is actually substantially lower than a few years ago. But past history shows that being a Supervisor always yields a few votes that can be spun as “un-conservative”–both former PWC Chair Sean Connaughton and former Hanover Supervisor turned State Senator and now LG Bolling lobbed charges against each other in the 2005 LG race stemming from their own service on their respective Boards. Stewart will host a hospitality suite as well.

So what about the rest of the field, as it were? Well, we really don’t know yet, but there’s a few names that have been floated already, and several will have hospitality suites at the Advance. Here’s the rest of the names we’re seeing:

  • Dave Foster–rumored to be considering a second run for AG, but also noted by some as a potential choice to square off for an open seat on the Arlington County Board of Supervisors
  • Delegate Rob Bell–thought to be another contender for AG
  • Delegate Bob Marshall–with Radtke floundering and no other challenger picking up speed, combined with coming very close to beating former Governor Jim Gilmore for the US Senate nod in 2008, Marshall is seen as possible late entry to the US Senate race
  • Though not listed on the official RPV agenda, Dick Black is said to be hosting one as well. I’m not sure Black is really eyeing anything–after all, he just made his political comeback by securing a State Senate seat this year. I think this is more about securing a statewide financial base for future runs than anything in the near future
  • Keith Fimian, who has twice gone up against Gerry Connolly in the 11th (in an open seat in 08 and as a challenger in 10). He came very close in the 2010 wave, but it looks like he may now have his eye on LG in 2013.
  • Delegate Ben Cline, a former chief of staff to Congressman Bob Goodlatte, is said to be the heir apparent when Goodlatte retires, but with two potential NOVA based candidates for LG, there may very well be a place for Cline in that race…
  • Dumfries Town Councilwoman Kristin Forrester–this is her second go around–she’s up to SOMETHING, but it’s not entirely clear what….
  • former Governor and former Senator George Allen–if I have to explain this one….but yeah, he’s running for the US Senate nomination
  • RPV Chairman Pat Mullins. Interestingly, this one is billed as Pat Mullins FOR Chairman–could be reading too much into this, but that would seem to indicate that Mullins is likely leaning towards seeking re-election as chairman at next June’s state convention

Also hosting suites: Americans for Prosperity and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, along with the Senate Caucus. Plenty of fireworks, what with the sudden start to the 2013 campaign and the Presidential Primary which, ironically, may lurk in the shadows to a certain degree….although many will still be gathering signatures, I imagine.

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