Monday, April 30, 2012

All Politics are Local- the VA Governor Race and the Race for the White House Collide

Gov Mitt Romney and Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia (linked to source: Deseret News)

Meet Governor Bob McDonnell. He's on the imaginary short list for Gov. Romney's vice presidential sidekick.
He is a former state attorney general, head of the Republican Governors Association, and all around well-liked governor of a Swing State.  His record includes a budget surplus, a drop in unemployment, and conservative support for signing a bill that requires women to have an ultrasound before an abortion.
A recent CNN/ORC International poll showed 1% of registered voters would pick McDonnell for the position, a figure largely based on name recognition. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice nabbed the top spot, followed by former presidential candidate Rick Santorum, Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.

VA Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (picture courtesy Atty Gen website)

Meet Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, Republican candidate for governor of Virginia. He won't endorse Mitt Romney.
Endorsements run both ways. You scratch my back, I scratch yours. You endorse the top dog, you often get to have your picture taken with the top dog to run in your campaign materials. So why won't he endorse the top dog?

Lt Governor of Virginia Bill Bolling (picture courtesy of Lt Gov official website)
Meet Lt. Governor Bill Bolling of VA. A man who wanted to run for governor last time around, but instead, politely stepped aside to allow his friend McDonnell to take that place. He politely settled for second-in-command. Within the party it has long been known that it is Bolling's turn to ascend to the governor's mansion. And all looked promising for that to happen, until Cuccinelli stepped in.
So what does this have to do with Cuccinelli not endorsing Romney?
Virginia does third year elections. The governor's spot isn't up for grabs until 2013. If McDonnell were to get tapped for the VP spot, and Romney/McDonnell were to win, Bolling would assume the governorship for one full year before the 2013 elections. And assuming people liked him, (and people probably would, since they like him quite well already), he would have an easy "re-"election ahead of him. And Cuccinelli would not have party support to run against him. (VA is a term limits state. McDonnell will not seek  re-election.)
Even if McDonnell does not get tapped for VP, considering his standing within the party, and the work he has put into Romney's race, he is likely on a short-list for a large number of appointments. In other words, Cuccinelli does not want to see Romney win because it could potentially hurt his chances to become the next governor.
In two weeks, on May 14, the VA State Legislature will meet in a special session to review Governor McDonnell's budget, and elect some judges. And when that happens, the second and third most influential conservative legislators in the state will be in a quiet, (yet very polite- too polite really) war with each other.
Bolling, by the way, is the chair of Romney's Virginia campaign.
In other words, all politics are local.

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