Chris Graham: A man without a country

“Right now I’m not prepared to make any endorsement in the campaign for governor. Frankly I don’t plan on making any endorsements in the statewide campaigns.”

With those words, Bill Bolling became a man without a country, politically speaking.

Ok, so actually, it was here that Bolling lost his hard-earned spot in the Virginia GOP:

“I have serious reservations about his ability to effectively and responsibly lead the state. And given those reservations, I could not in good conscience endorse his candidacy for governor,” the sitting two-term lieutenant governor said of Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, now the presumptive Republican Party gubernatorial nominee.”

In what may very well be his swan song in Virginia government, Bolling is vowing to be an “independent voice” in his final year as lieutenant governor. Which makes interesting the blowback from Republicans who are all but burning Bolling in effigy for the heretical failure to endorse Ken Cuccinelli for the Republican Party gubernatorial nomination on his way out of the race.

Bolling still has an important role to play policy-wise in 2013. The State Senate is evenly divided with 20 Democrats and 20 Republicans. Bolling cast the tie-breaking organizational vote earlier this year giving the GOP effective majority control of the chamber, and then cast 28 tie-breaking votes in the 2012 General Assembly session.

How Bolling exercises his power in the divided Senate in 2013 will be a focal point for political observers in Virginia. Also of note will be what the closely parsed linguistic framing that Bolling used in dropping out of the race was really meant to mean.

Bolling “suspended” his campaign, remember, and his vow to be an “independent voice,” combined with his insistence that he is “the most qualified person to serve as the next governor of the state” and that he “could win the general election next November” has to make one wonder.

Is Bolling thinking of making a run at the governor’s mansion as an independent? Depending on the reporter, the answer is either a clear no or a tepid maybe. I tend to doubt that we’d actually see Bolling run as an independent, because in doing so all he’d actually achieve is to guarantee a convincing win for presumptive Democratic Party nominee Terry McAulifffe.

Stranger things have happened, of course. Bolling’s feelings were clearly hurt by the intra-party goings-on that he cited in his decision to drop out of the GOP race. Were they hurt enough to make a futile effort to fight a war as a man without a country? Time will tell.

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