- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 7, 2011

Poor Bill Bolling.

The Virginia lieutenant governor is already laying the groundwork for a 2013 gubernatorial run, but a poll released last week by the left-leaning firm Public Policy Polling shows him trailing — badly — in a would-be primary matchup with his fellow Republican, Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II.

Mr. Cuccinelli leads 45 percent to 21 percent and, not surprisingly, 56 percent to 15 percent among those who described themselves as “very conservative.” He’s also more well-known than Mr. Bolling. Mr. Cuccinelli enjoyed a 56 percent to 15 percent favorable/unfavorable split, compared to Mr. Bolling’s 28 percent to 13 percent split.

But — poor Bill Bolling? His political committee, Friends of Bill Bolling, took in $540,994 during the first half of the year, leaving him with $676,766 cash on hand. The contributions total was the most he took in during any non-election year fundraising period, and his cash on hand is 83 percent higher than Bob McDonnell’s was during the 2009 cycle, when he was attorney general and running for governor. And we all know how that worked out.

Meanwhile, Mr. Cuccinelli, who has said he plans to run for re-election, but is leaving his options open, reported raising more than $446,000 during the first half of the year, leaving the total cash on hand for his campaign and political action committee, Liberty Now, at $444,000.

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To the dismay of business bigwigs and D.C. Council leadership, Mayor Vincent C. Gray pocket-vetoed a measure that would have delayed a tax on interest on out-of-state bonds until 2012.

It especially steamed council member Mary M. Cheh, Ward 3 Democrat, who took strides to delay the tax for her relatively affluent constituents and avoid the unfairness of a tax retroactive to Jan. 1 of this year.

As luck would have it, Mr. Gray and Ms. Cheh got together about 10 hours after the midnight veto for a smile-and-handshake affair in her ward. With a comically large pair of scissors between them, the pair exchanged a few words outside the ribbon-cutting at the Guy Mason Recreation Center, in Glover Park. It was hard to hear them, but their try-to-smile-for-these-photos demeanor suggested what they were talking about.

Mr. Gray, a Democrat and former council chairman, received support from Ms. Cheh during his mayoral bid last year. She also had the awkward pleasure of holding hearings on Mr. Gray’s hiring practices, after questions of nepotism and unusually high salaries surfaced during his transition to office.

Mr. Gray said he still has an “excellent relationship” with Ms. Cheh, but he felt it was unwise to take $13 million from the fund balance to delay the bonds tax.

Ms. Cheh expressed similar sentiments about Mr. Gray, noting she and the mayor just don’t see eye to eye on everything. But let’s wait and see what’s in that hiring-practices report when it drops this fall.

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Baltimore resident Chris Ashworth has a message for members of Congress who finally reached an agreement last week to raise the federal debt ceiling and cut spending to stave off a potential federal default: Thank you.

That should actually read “thank you,” with the quotation marks used to denote sarcasm.

Mr. Ashworth showed his “gratitude” last week by launching the site slowclapsforcongress.com, which initially featured a YouTube video of him staring into the camera while offering 28 seconds of deadpanned, unenthusiastic applause.

“Dear Congress,” the site’s banner read, “For your leadership, your maturity and your inspiring ability to perform the basic duties of your job, we applaud you.”

Mr. Ashworth, a computer programmer, initially tweeted the idea on July 31, when legislators were still locked in a fierce, partisan debate that differed starkly from their usually civil discourse. (That’s more sarcasm.)

The website within days rose to full Internet meme status, with more than 50 users posting their own slow-clap videos as of Friday and the site being featured on cable-news shows, blogs and in newspapers.

We’re sure Congress “appreciates” the thanks.

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