The Virginia gubernatorial race is deadlocked.
Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican State Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli are tied at 38%, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll. Meanwhile, all eyes are on Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, a GOPer, who will announce next month whether or not he’ll run as an Independent.
The survey indicates that Bolling could tilt the results, if he decides to run. According to Quinnipiac, if Bolling jumped in, 34% would support McAuliffe—the former Democratic National Committee chairman. Cuccinelli, a Tea Party darling, would get 31%. Meanwhile, Bolling would get 13%.
“Bolling probably has the greatest growth potential of the candidates but he also has the farthest to go to become a major contender,” said Peter A. Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. “At this point—although it certainly could change—the data indicates that Bolling’s GOP critics who say he can’t win as an Independent but might tilt the result to McAuliffe could be onto something.”
Bolling, who had previously dropped out of the race, is now speaking out against the Republican shift to the far right. He told the Washington Post that he thought the GOP was becoming so radical that it was alienating voters, said “not every government program is bad,” and that it’s “irresponsible” to take a position that you would never, ever raise taxes.
On Thursday evening’s Hardball,Chris Cillizza of the Washington Post said Bolling’s party-shift seemed mostly genuine rather being than a tactical ploy to set himself up as a more centrist candidate.
“Look, this is a guy who in 2009 got pushed out of the race for governor by [by current Gov.] Bob McDonnell because Bob McDonnell was more conservative and better positioned to win the race,” Cillizza said.
He continued, Bolling “stepped aside with the expectation from everyone in the Republican Party that in 2013, he’d be the guy. Well along comes Ken Cuccinelli…So I think some of it is that he’s kind of angry at the way in which his political fortunes have played themselves out, but I think part of it too is an expression of the kind of establishment…within the Republican party who looks at some of the folks in a more conservative wing and says these folks are pushing us to a place that is going to get us losing elections.”
Former Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., told host Chris Matthews that it was likely Cuccinelli would win in 2013.
“Nine straight times our governor has come from the opposite party of the president. Right now, it’s a close race but if history is any judge, Republicans should win it,” said Davis.
McDonnell’s term expires at the end of 2013. He has endorsed Cuccinelli.