By Kenric Ward | Watchdog.org Virginia Bureau
RICHMOND — Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling said today that the state GOP’s decision to conduct a nominating convention – instead of a primary – “makes the Republican Party a party of exclusion, as opposed to a party of inclusion.”
Bolling, who dropped his bid for governor this week, also declined, repeatedly, to endorse presumptive Republican gubernatorial nominee Ken Cuccinelli in an anticipated showdown with ex-Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe.
“Nobody loves the Republican Party more than I do. As I look at the candidates out there right now I cannot in good conscience give an endorsement,” Bolling said.
Deriding a nominating convention contest as “hand-to-hand combat,” Bolling said at a news conference at the Capitol, “I didn’t want to be part of that process when, in my heart, I didn’t think we had a realistic chance to win.”
Alluding to criticism that the convention format isolates the party from the general electorate – which would be eligible to vote in a Republican primary — Bolling said, “We have to decide if we will be a party that actually wins elections.”
“I felt I was the more electable candidate,” he said, in comparison to Attorney General Cuccinelli, now the GOP’s presumptive nominee for governor.
“If we want to grow our party over time, we do that in primaries with 200,000 or 300,000 people voting.”
Bolling called the delegate-selection process “arcane.”
“You essentially have 128 mini-elections (at the county level) which adopt their own rules. It’s a terribly complicated process.”
Giving no intention of endorsing a successor as lieutenant governor, Bolling vowed to be an “independent voice” at the 2013 legislative session.
The lieutenant governor presides over the state Senate, which is split 20-20, between Democrats and Republicans. Bolling cast 32 tie-breaking votes in that chamber this year.
Susan Stimpson, a candidate for lieutenant governor, blasted Bolling’s failure to endorse Cuccinelli.
“While I understand his disappointment that he won’t win the nomination, this position is simply indefensible and destroys his legacy as lieutenant governor.
“This is the same ‘burn the house down’ approach that the establishment has threatened us with in the past when they don’t get their way.”
Contact Kenric Ward at [email protected] or at (571) 319-9824.