Cuccinelli Bid Upsets Bolling, Supporters at Retreat; Republicans Try to Put 2013 on Hold
Byline: David Sherfinski, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
HOT SPRINGS, Va. -- Hundreds of Virginia Republicans gathered over the weekend at the posh Homestead resort for their annual retreat, with the talk being dominated by an unexpected topic: the 2013 gubernatorial race and last week's surprise entry by Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II.
Mr. Cuccinelli's bombshell announcement that he would challenge Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling left Virginia Republicans and Bolling supporters here wondering how the lieutenant governor would handle the issue.
I wish I didn't have to say anything about 2013, Mr. Bolling said Saturday in an address that elicited laughter and tears. Unfortunately, because of the events of the past few days, we no longer have that opportunity.
On Thursday, he issued a quick, sharp response accusing Mr. Cuc
cinelli of putting his own personal ambition ahead of the best interests of the commonwealth and the Republican Party. On Saturday, however, Mr. Bolling tried instead to put a hold on what is likely to be a bitter, expensive battle for the nomination.
Now is not that time. What happens in 2012, the [possible] election of a Republican U.S. senator in Virginia and a Republican president, is of far more importance to the future of the country than what happens to Bill Bolling or Ken Cuccinelli in 2013, he said to a standing ovation.
Mr. Bolling's voice broke up toward the end of the speech when he talked about growing up in Southwest Virginia as the son of a coal miner and a waitress who gave him every opportunity to eventually serve the greatest state that the greatest nation has ever known.
Mr. Cuccinelli did not attend the retreat, officially known as Republican Party of Virginia Advance, because he was one of three questioners for a GOP presidential debate in New York on Saturday night.
Though Mr. Bolling took the high ground in calling for party unity next year, he acknowledged offstage his disappointment about Mr. Cuccinelli's plans.
He had never indicated to me that he was thinking about running, and his announcement came as a total surprise, Mr. Bolling told The Washington Times.
Mr. Bolling said one of his biggest problems with the announcement was the timing - just two days before the retreat and before nominees for 2012 elections are set.
When you start one of these campaigns two years in advance, there are just a lot of potential ripple effects from that, none of which are good, Mr. …