Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) had harsh words in a radio interview Wednesday for his Republican colleagues in the state Senate, calling their surprise move to redraw their district lines while a Democrat was absent from the chamber “a dangerous precedent.”
Bolling also confirmed reports that he tried to shut the plan down, making him the second statewide Republican leader after Gov. Bob McDonnell to distance himself from the Senate Republican bill.“My concern is that it sets a very dangerous precedent that could almost create an unending redistricting cycle,” Bolling told the conservative John Fredricks Show Wednesday. “What are we going to do in 2014 if we come back with a Democratic lieutenant governor? Are we going to redo redistricting again? What would we then do in 2015 if Republicans regain control of the Senate? Would we redo redistricting then?”
The Virginia state Senate is split 20-20 between Republicans and Democrats, giving Bolling a powerful tie-breaking vote. But Bolling said on the radio show that he told Republican leaders in the Senate he wouldn’t back their mid-term redistricting plan, which would redraw the lines to make it easier for Republicans to regain the majority after the 2015 elections.
“I was briefed on the proposal on the beginning of the session and made it very clear it was not a proposal that I could support,” Bolling said. “So the Senate Republican caucus knew that if it came before the Senate on a 20-20 vote it was not something that I could support.”
That confirms a Washington Post tick-tock of the redistricting — which Democrats called a “dirty trick” because it relied on the absence of former civil rights leader and state Sen. Henry Marsh (D), who was attending President Obama’s inauguration in Washington.
Bolling wouldn’t say if Senate Republicans waited for Marsh to leave town before pushing their plan. But he didn’t defend his party against the charge, either.
“I don’t want to speak to why the Senate Republican caucus brought it forward when they did,” Bolling said. “I think one can certainly make some conjectures about that.”
Bolling is often a critic of his party these days as he continues to hint at an independent run for governor against likely GOP nominee Ken Cuccinelli and likely Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe. He told the John Fredericks Show he’s “50-50” on jumping into the gubernatorial contest, calling the polls “encouraging.”
McDonnell had harsh words for his party, too, on Tuesday, calling the state Senate GOP move not “a good way to do business.” He has so far not said if he’d veto the redistricting bill if it reaches his desk.
Cuccinelli has not offered the same criticisms, saying that as state attorney general he may have to defend it in court.
Here’s Bolling’s full appearance on the John Fredericks Show (h/t Blue Virginia):