Frustrated in his gubernatorial ambitions, Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling decided to skip the party's convention in Richmond this weekend and launch a political action committee for "mainstream" Republicans instead. The jab is directed at Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who will be the Virginia Republican Party's standard bearer against Democrat Terry McAuliffe this fall.
But Bolling is hardly the one to define "mainstream."
The hand-picked would-be successor of incumbent Gov. Bob McDonnell dropped out of the primary race because he failed to raise enough money. But the lack of financial support from his own party members shows that if anybody is on the Republican fringe, it's Bolling -- not Cuccinelli.
Bolling then threatened to run as an independent, which would have split the GOP vote and, in a tight race, virtually guaranteed a McAuliffe victory. He eventually decided not to get into the race at all, but to devote his energies to "calling our party back to a more mainstream approach to politics and policy" -- implying that Cuccinelli and his conservative supporters are not.
But that vague accusation is not backed up by the record.
For example, McAuliffe and his fellow Democrats insinuate that Cuccinelli's efforts to impose stricter regulations on abortion clinics are evidence of his "war on women." But the recent trial of Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell, whose grisly "house of horrors" clinic had not been properly inspected in years, makes that case much more difficult to make. A May 15 Gallup poll that found 48 percent of Americans are pro-life compared with 45 percent who are pro-choice, so he is by definition mainstream on this hot-button issue.
The attorney general was also the first to file a lawsuit against the federal government, charging that the individual mandate in Obamacare was an unconstitutional infringement on individual rights. Although the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the federal health care law, it did so by redefining the individual mandate as a "tax" -- an argument that even the law's backers in the administration failed to make. Cuccinelli lost, but attorneys generals in 26 other states agreed with his legal reasoning.
And what could be more mainstream than joining forces with the Democrat-dominated Fairfax Board of Supervisors as Cuccinelli did when he successfully sued the Environmental Protection Agency for its absurd attempt to regulate rainwater as a pollutant?
Cuccinelli's positions can and should be debated on the merits. But there's nothing "extreme" about any of them.