By Coby W. Dillard
© December 4, 2012
Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling won’t be Virginia’s next governor. Last week, he suspended his gubernatorial campaign, making room for Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to become the Republican nominee for 2013.
While most everyone heaped praise on Bolling, he didn’t earn any good will by refusing to endorse Cuccinelli’s bid. Bolling said that he had “serious reservations about his ability to effectively and responsibly lead the state.”
And that’s when the fight started.
Susan Stimpson, who’s running for the GOP nomination for lieutenant governor, fired the first shot, calling Bolling’s comments “the same ‘burn the house down’ approach that the establishment has threatened us with in the past when they don’t get their way.”
Jamie Radtke, who ran for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate this year, took things a step further, asking the Republican Party of Virginia’s State Central Committee to repudiate Bolling and for Gov. Bob McDonnell to remove him from his post as the state’s job creation officer. Even Republican Party chairman Pat Mullins joined in.
I’m no Bolling fan, for reasons more personal than political. Nothing immediately comes to mind that we would disagree on.
I think that a tough road to the convention would have been good not just for him and Cuccinelli but for Republicans as a whole, as we rebuild after the debacle of 2012.
Conflict is a great tool for purging and soul-searching; we desperately need both.
The conflict is not to be. Bolling, who has performed admirably as lieutenant governor and worked with McDonnell to bring new jobs to Virginia, chose to leave the race, as is his right.
Bolling’s decision is to be respected, especially considering his record of public service compared to that of his detractors.
It’s grossly inappropriate for current candidates – and failed ones – to attack him for doing what more of our officials should do: Be candid about their opinions.
Something tells me that if more of our leaders said what they were really thinking, we’d be able to make progress on the issues of the day. Or, at worst, we’d know where everyone truly stood on them.
Teddy Roosevelt famously said that the efforts of the person in the public arena, “whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again,” count more than those of “the man who points out how the strong man stumbles.”
Those are words from a progressive that Republicans would do well to consider before bashing one of the party’s strongest and most committed leaders.
Coby W. Dillard is vice chairman of the Norfolk Republican Party and a co-founder of the Hampton Roads Tea Party. Email: email@example.com.