As Bolling bows out, McAuliffe visits Leesburg
On the day Bolling announced he wouldn’t launch an independent bid for the governor's mansion, which clears the way for a presumed two-person race between McAuliffe and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, the Democrat toured Leesburg small businesses and chatted up local residents on sequestration and what role government can play in helping business owners thrive.
In 2012 both Bolling and Cuccinelli were considering a Republican gubernatorial bid. But after a reorganization from the state GOP to nominate its candidate through a convention rather than a primary, something many pundits said essentially locked in Cuccinelli's nomination, Bolling withdrew from the Republican race, though not the party, and considered an independent campaign.
“I'm disappointed,” McAuliffe said Tuesday, “that there's no room for someone like Bill Bolling in the Republican party. Bill Bolling has had a long, successful career on job creation, working both sides on mainstream ideas. And to find out that there's just no room for him to run in the Republican Party in Virginia today I think is a sad commentary.”
McAuliffe said with or without Bolling in the race, his campaign is keeping the same focus – economic development, job creation and transportation.
McAuliffe sided with Gov. Bob McDonnell and Bolling in supporting the state's recent transportation funding reform. Cuccinelli bashed it as a massive tax increase.
A wealthy businessman and former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, McAuliffe has a strong relationship with Bill and Hillary Clinton and prominent Democrats across the country.
The McAuliffe campaign has worked to define Cuccinelli as an extreme, right-wing ideologue, while Republicans paint McAuliffe as a Virginia outsider and mere political operative.
Cuccinelli has made headlines in the past for being skeptical of climate change, filing a lawsuit against the federal health care law, and serving as an outspoken pro-life advocate.
“Any second we spend on socially-divisive issues is time … we're not spending on job growth, transportation issues, health care issues,” McAuliffe said Tuesday.
As for whether winning Loudoun County is essential for a November victory – something both presidential candidates last fall expressed -- McAuliffe said while Loudoun and Northern Virginia are significant, every region in the commonwealth is important for the state's success.
“Loudoun obviously has just dynamic growth. I think the message, the things I'm focused on, job growth, economic development – those are the issues that resonate here. But in fairness, I'm going to play in all parts of Virginia,” he said.
A majority of Loudoun County voters have twice voted for President Barack Obama in the general election, though the Republican McDonnell won the county handedly in 2009.