Speaking this morning to a group of Roanoke County business leaders, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling criticized his party’s gubernatorial candidate, saying if Ken Cuccinelli didn’t embrace business incentives programs he wouldn’t be a “jobs governor.”
Bolling, who dropped his bid for the Republican nomination in November, was referring to a comment Cuccinelli made in May, in which he said he would take a harder view at incentives for businesses than his predecessors.
In a written response to Bolling’s comments, Cuccinelli spokeswoman Anna Nix argued the current tax system inhibits growth by letting the government pick winners and losers. Nix added that under Cuccinelli’s jobs plan, a Small Business Tax Relief Commission will evaluate tax loopholes and exemptions, then make recommendations on which ones to eliminate.
After his speech, Bolling offered his own insight into the state of the gubernatorial race.
“I think the governor’s race is very much up for grabs,” he said.
While Terry McAuliffe, the Democrat in the race, currently edges out Cuccinelli in several polls, there’s still a lot of ground to cover before November arrives, Bolling said.
“What you’re seeing right now is Mr. McAuliffe trying to define himself to the voters,” he said. “He’s clearly trying to talk about jobs and the economy, and I give him credit for that, and that’s what this election is about.”
Bolling added that as McAuliffe works to introduce himself to voters, Cuccinelli will attempt to redefine his image to voters – softening himself to attract more moderate and independent thinkers.
“Now, whether he can do that successfully or not between now and November remains to be seen,” he said.
On the race for his own seat, Bolling reinforced his previous statements about the Republican nominee, Bishop E.W. Jackson, who has faced heat recently for comments he has made that some have described as inflammatory.
“He certainly is entitled to his views on these issues, but you’re not entitled to insult people,” Bolling said. “You need to be able to present your views in a positive way, in a constructive way, and hopefully he’s learned from that process and will do a better job moving forward and focus on the big issues facing Virginia.”
Bolling’s comments came just weeks after he formed Virginia Mainstream Project, a political action committee committed to getting mainstream Republicans elected into office.
“There’s no secret about the fact that I’m very concerned about the current direction of the Republican Party in Virginia,” Bolling said. “Our party is having a difficult time today connecting with key demographic groups in our state.”
Among those groups, he included women, young people, Asian Americans and Hispanics. Bolling said his chief complaint is that many Republicans in Virginia are too extreme and ideologically driven – which he claims has led to the “Washintonization” of Richmond.