Teresa, below, provides a very nice overview of the Cuccinelli/Bolling split in Virginia. Very thorough and very much on point.
Let me just add this: There is no reason, none whatsoever, for “establishment” types to think that Ken Cuccinelli would be a weak candidate. His entire record shows just the opposite. He was first elected to the state Senate as an underfunded underdog in a special election in 2002. He was re-elected in 2003 and then again in 2007 — in the latter, holding on against all odds (and against pundit predictions) in a very tough district for Republicans, in a very bad year for Republicans. In 2009, in his first statewide race, despite his supposed image as an extremist (more on that lie in a moment), he won his spot as Attorney General in a landslide, with a whopping 58 percent of the vote.
This is not the record of a weak candidate. This is the record of a candidate who knows how to win tough elections — how to inspire people, how to turn out the vote, how to find the right issues to emphasize.
As for his “extremist” image — or rather, his alleged image to that effect — it just doesn’t hold water. The only thing extreme about him is his courage, and then mainly in comparison with other weak-kneed politicians. His actual positions are mainstream conservative, often getting ahead of the curve and going to popular positions (as in his challenge to ObamaCare) before other conservative politicians have figured out that the positions are not only correct but also popular.
But there is plenty in his history to sell to moderates, suburbanites, “swing” voters, or however one wants to characterize those citizens who don’t necessarily vote on strongly ideological lines. It’s not that he abandons conservatism, by the way, but that he applies conservatism, common sense, and true compassion (as opposed to the fake, government-equals-compassion shibboleth) to concerns that are, or are often seen as, non-ideological concerns. Cuccinelli has been a leader, for instance, in advocating intelligent, compassionate, effective handling of those who are seriously mentally ill. He has served on a special commission to fight human trafficking. And he has been stalwart in applying anti-trust laws and laws against usury — hardly the position of the caricature of Republicans as pawns of big business.
Conservatives, meanwhile, should be thrilled with Cuccinelli’s strong stands for property rights (especially in eminent domain battles), against taxes, and in favor of Second Amendment rights. And, of course, he is unapologetically pro-life. Finally, on issues of economics and size and scope of government, Cuccinelli has an admirably (and responsibility) libertarian streak, very much in the Reagan tradition.
To suggest that Cuccinelli will make a weak candidate is, therefore, just plain stupid or ignorant. Responsible moderate Republicans in Virginia should rally behind him and talk Bill Bolling out of a hopeless and counterproductive third-party bid. Cuccinelli is a winner.