( – promoted by lowkell)
by Paul Goldman
My source is right about Lt. Governor Bolling’s smart, indeed only sensible play right now unless something changes dramatically. Bolling will be only 60 years old in 2017. If my source is right – and Ken Cuccinelli is unelectable – then the smart play for Bolling is easy: sit out 2013, be a loyal party guy, back whatever Governor Bob McDonnell does this year, and start running for governor in 2014. Right now, Cuccinelli is clearly the underdog against Terry McAuliffe. Given the AG’s refusal so far to help Governor McDonnell on transportation, this underdog status may get worse if he isn’t careful.
My sources tell me this Politics 101 scenario has been pressed on Bolling by some very savvy political types. He is resisting so far. But they feel he will have to agree with them in the end. It makes sense, if Bolling really believes Cuccinelli is unelectable as the LG publicly claims.
Why? Because the odds favor a Democratic sweep under those circumstances, or at least no more than one Republican elected statewide. Governor McDonnell and Ken Cuccinelli would owe Bolling big time if he decided not to run and merely gave a pro forma endorsement to the GOP ticket. They would be willing to “pay up” for such a Bolling move.
If Cuccinelli gets beat as Bolling predicts, this would help the LG’s “moderate” image big time as well; and if he does the loyal thing and doesn’t run, it would gain him a lot of backers in the party in 2017 if his prediction is right.
If there is a Democratic sweep in 2013, then Bolling is the favorite to be the next GOP gubernatorial nominee. There is little chance Cuccinelli loses and both the other statewide GOP nominees win. The chance of either the Republican LG or AG winning if Cuccinelli loses is 50-50 in my view.
Given my assumption that McDonnell gets his transportation plan passed, this will make him a very credible figure going forward in GOP circles. Should he lose, Cuccinelli is too young to be totally out of the game in 2017. So both of them will have some “juice” in 2017. Thus Bolling has reason to trade for that “juice” now in exchange for not running: and the two have reason to make the trade.
Game theory says this: Bolling is “all in” if he runs for governor against the GOP nominee. If he does that, he will have burnt not merely his bridges, but most everything else as concerns the Republican Party. It is a terrible risk vs reward play for a guy in his 50’s. Bolling is young guy in political terms, and he will still be young in 2017.
It is true, as I wrote yesterday, the Bolling for Governor campaign is credible if Cuccinelli opposes the governor on transportation, even more so if the GOP nominates a ticket of anti-MCD folks. BUT: If the GOP goes such a route, they are sure to lose, all of them.
This would be Bolling’s dream outcome for 2017!!!
And if the GOP nominates, as I pointed yesterday, pro-MCD transportation folks, then Bolling for Governor becomes a revenge trip, it does poorly, and he is persona non grata in the GOP.
Net, net: As a political matter, Bolling has already got his “revenge” on Cuccinelli and the party for screwing him last year. He has driven the image of Cuccinelli further to the right, and the AG’s team has been seen as amateurish in handling the LG.
Bolling, therefore, has gotten the “pay back.”
If Bolling runs, he totally alienates Governor McDonnell whose star may now be rising again.
How does such a crazy move help Bolling looking at it from any direction?
If Bolling were say 75, I could see him saying “hell with everyone” or if he were close in the polls.
Yes, the guys around Bolling want a big pay day, only possible if he runs. I get that. But Cuccinelli can make sure they are well compensated helping him, Bolling’s guys are smart, any GOP candidate should want their help. Surely they don’t want to likewise be too toxic to be hired in the GOP going forward.
Net, net: The smart move – not the wimp move at this point – is for Bolling to think 2017. I agree on this.
Unless something huge occurs and chess board changing occurs between now and the LG’s big announcement on March 14, the gutsy play at this point is to stand down. Yes, he will lose cred and have to eat crow for a few months. But at his age, betting the “ranch” on the roulette wheel coming up Double ZERO for K-Man and T-Man is dumb and dumber.
If he truly has the courage of his election convictions, the easy play is to run: the hard play is to eat your words and bet the voters will agree with you in November.