- - Thursday, May 16, 2013

When Virginia Republicans convene in Richmond on Friday to anoint their candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general, there will be one conspicuous absence. Like the little boy in sandlot baseball who, unable to play his preferred position, takes his bat and ball and goes home, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling announced that he would stay away.

Mr. Bolling’s disappointment at not being named to the top of the ticket in November is understandable, but he ought to show a little grace in defeat. There’s always another day, another opportunity. After the tea party supporters of state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli outmaneuvered Mr. Bolling for the nomination, the lieutenant governor briefly weighed a third-party bid. Tempting as that might have been, such a rift in the party would have handed the governorship to Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic nominee.

Mr. Bolling wisely did not succumb to temptation, but he couldn’t resist a parting shot at Mr. Cuccinelli when he announced he would stay away from Richmond this weekend. “Conventions empower the most strident voices within a political party,” Mr. Bolling’s spokesman said, “and they effectively disenfranchise more mainstream voters.”

The gratuitous jab at Mr. Cuccinelli as one of the “strident voices” isn’t gaining traction. A Washington Post poll earlier this month found Mr. Cuccinelli enjoyed a comfortable 51 percent to 41 percent advantage over Mr. McAuliffe, a carpetbagger whose claim to fame is helping Bill Clinton to eight years in Washington. Carpetbaggers have never been popular in Virginia.

Mr. Cuccinelli won with 57 percent of the vote in his statewide race four years ago. His agenda is solidly pro-life and conservative, setting up a sharp contrast with Mr. McAuliffe, a liberal who solidly supports abortion rights and homosexual marriage. Down ballot races will share the contrast, and the conservative delegates in Richmond will enjoy an embarrassment of conservative riches, blessing not only Mr. Cuccinelli but solidly conservative candidates for lieutenant governor and attorney general.

Of the seven competing for the No. 2 spot on the ticket, only former state Sen. Jeannemarie Davis can’t be considered a conservative. In the state Senate she shilled for red-light revenue camera companies, and in her unsuccessful 2007 re-election bid she was endorsed by New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, the union bosses of the Virginia Education Association and its Fairfax affiliate, and by the Washington Post.

Tea party delegates must be careful to avoid splitting their votes and enabling the favorites of liberal organizations if they are to win this weekend. A sweep by conservatives would demonstrate that the tea party continues to be a strong, perhaps dominant, force in Virginia. Then it would be forward to November, where the stakes are higher and the campaigning fiercer and unforgiving.

The Washington Times

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