In 2009 Virginia Republicans faced a possible blood bath between their top two state officials. Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling and Attorney General Bob McDonnell both had their eyes on the gubernatorial race, and long-time activists, volunteers, and supporters were dreading the split a battle between the two could do to the party. As a result, Bill Bolling stepped away from the plate, leaving the nomination for Bob McDonnell, and a unified Republican Party went on to sweep the Top 3 state offices with Bob McDonnell winning governor and Bill Bolling reelected as lieutenant governor.
Fast forward to 2015 and the news that both Democratic Lieutenant Governor Ralph Northam and Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring have indicated they will run for the gubernatorial nomination (see Ralph Northam confirms he’s running to become next Va. governor):
In the past few weeks, Northam has begun putting the word out, privately informing McAuliffe, Democratic leaders and supporters that he plans to run, the lieutenant governor confirmed Tuesday during an interview with The Washington Post.
“I’m planning for the next step — planning to run for governor,” Northam said.
Several Democrats said they welcomed the news that Northam — a Virginia Military Institute graduate, Gulf War veteran and pediatric neurologist who hunts, fishes and speaks with the folksy drawl of an Eastern Shore native — was entering the race. They said his biography and collegial manner could play well across an increasingly polarized state, where Democrats have dominated Northern Virginia and other urban centers but have little following elsewhere.
Herring, on the other hand, has been seen by some as the Democratic equivalent of Republican AG Ken Cuccinelli:
Herring has used his office to buck the state’s gay marriage ban, declare some illegal immigrants eligible for in-state tuition and advance other liberal causes that could endear him to Democratic primary voters but also complicate a general election bid.
Will one of the two step aside for the sake of the party, as Bolling did in 2009, or will they both go for it and let the chips fall where they may? Time will tell.