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Chris Graham: Don’t see Bolling running for governor

bill bollingLt. Gov. Bill Bolling seems to be suggesting in recent interviews that he’s giving serious consideration to mounting an independent run for governor in November.

You’re hearing it here first. It’s not going to happen.

The first polling of the gubernatorial race of 2013 had Bolling at 15 percent in a hypothetical three-way race with Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli. That same poll, done by Public Policy Polling, had McAuliffe leading Cuccinelli by eight points at the top of that three-way race. The two-way race between McAuliffe and Cuccinelli, meantime, was at five points, showing that Bolling was obviously taking more from the Republican than the Democrat, as we’d expect.

Also as we’d expect, Bolling was coming in a distant third.

Now, one could look at the numbers in any manner of ways. Bolling confidants could say, Hey, we’re at 15 percent, and we haven’t announced, haven’t done more than speculate publicly that we might run. In that context, then, 15 percent isn’t a ceiling, it’s a floor, a foundation, something for us to build upon. Right?

Maybe. Or maybe it’s the flip side. Ross Perot ran a strenuous third-party independent campaign for president back in 1992, you may remember, and at a couple of different stages of that campaign, in which George H.W. Bush was running for re-election, and Arkansas Gov. Bill Clinton was his Democratic challenger, it looked from reads of the polls that Perot had a shot of winning.

And where did Perot end up in 1992? At 18 percent. A distant third. And in 1996, in his second and final run, he dropped to 8 percent.

Virginia has its own recent history with a third-party independent gubernatorial candidate. Long-time Republican State Sen. Russ Potts inserted himself into the 2005 race against Republican Attorney General Jerry Kilgore and Democratic Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, and polling done in the summer showed Potts in the low single-digits and gaining momentum. He ended up at 2 percent, an afterthought at best.

So if you’re Bill Bolling, whether you’re Ross Perot or Russ Potts, you’re looking at several months of hard work – raising money, shaking hands, kissing babies – for what, exactly?

If it’s to make a principled stand, that’s one thing. If it’s to express hurt feelings over how the party stacked the deck against him in the 2013 nomination race, that’s quite another.

Bolling doesn’t strike me as the type to pull the trigger based on raw emotion. That’s actually what made him an attractive gubernatorial candidate.

Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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