Prominent Virginia Republican blasts GOP's 'ridiculous lawsuit' to disqualify McAuliffe

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Former Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling said the new court challenge 'does nothing but make the Republican Party of Virginia look silly.'

A former Republican lieutenant governor of Virginia blasted his party on Friday for filing a lawsuit aimed at knocking the current Democratic nominee for governor of the state off the ballot.

Bill Bolling said that a "ridiculous" lawsuit announced Thursday "does nothing but make the Republican Party of Virginia look silly."

The state Republican Party filed the suit against the Department of Elections and State Board of Elections to force the removal of former Gov. Terry McAuliffe from the ballot based on an alleged paperwork error.

"The complaint contends that Terry McAuliffe, a politician of nearly 50 years, filed a Declaration of Candidacy with the SBE without his required signature in violation of Virginia Code § 24.2-520," the party's announcement says.

"McAuliffe is a fraudulent candidate and cannot be Virginia's next governor," said the party's chair, Rich Anderson.

In a Facebook post highlighted by the progressive blog Blue Virginia, Bolling wrote that the Virginia GOP "would be better off spending its time trying to come up with a compelling message as to why voters should vote for Republican candidates instead of Democrats, especially since every poll indicates that Democrats are wining [sic] and their margin is increasing."

Bolling, a prominent Virginia Republican, served as lieutenant governor from 2006 to 2014 and spent a decade in the Virginia Senate before that. In a May opinion piece published by a conservative Virginia website, Bolling had praised Republican gubernatorial nominee Glenn Youngkin as "the right kind of candidate" to "restore some much needed balance to Virginia's state government."

But as Bolling noted in his post on Friday, "While the Code of Virginia does require a candidate seeking nomination in a primary election to file a Certificate of Candidacy with the State Board of Elections, it does not require the candidate to sign the form. Perhaps it should, but it doesn't."

The section of the Code of Virginia on elections specifies only that a candidate must file a written declaration that includes "the name of the political party of which the candidate is a member, a designation of the office for which he is a candidate, and a statement that, if defeated in the primary, his name is not to be printed on the ballots for that office in the succeeding general election," and that it be witnessed.

Democrats have also dismissed the lawsuit as meritless.

"Our campaign submitted the required paperwork," McAuliffe campaign spokesperson Christina Freundlich tweeted Thursday. "This is nothing more than a desperate Trumpian move by the Virginia GOP to deprive voters of a choice in this election because Terry is consistently leading in the polls."

Democratic state Sen. Scott Surovell tweeted that Youngkin is "afraid to debate @TerryMcAuliffe so instead we get PR stunts," noting, "His campaign clearly sat on this to get a press hit. Candidate filing errors are for April, not August. The primary is over & T-Mac is the nominee."

"I've seen a lot of dumb lawsuits by the GOP," wrote lawyer Marc Elias, who specializes in election law. "This is a really dumb lawsuit. I would note that not a single law firm is on these pleadings. Not even the Kraken lawyers," he added, a reference to a team of pro-Donald Trump lawyers who filed baseless conspiracy lawsuits in an attempt to overturn the 2020 election.

Nonpartisan experts also dismissed the Virginia Republicans' suit.

"I predict that this lawsuit will fail," Michael Gilbert, vice dean of the University of Virginia School of Law, told the Associated Press. "The violation is harmless, and the remedy sought — removing McAuliffe from the general election ballot in November — is extreme."

"It's not a good look when you have a set of polls that say you're behind and now you say [McAuliffe] didn't file the paperwork properly for the Democratic primary so disqualify him," Virginia political analyst Robert Holsworth told the Washington Post. "I don't see how it benefits Republicans politically to do that. You should win the election fair and square with the electorate."

McAuliffe has led Youngkin in every poll conducted since the two won their parties' nominations.

A poll released Thursday by AARP Virginia and the Wason Center for Civil Leadership at Christopher Newport University found McAuliffe leading Youngkin 50%-41%. Democrats also held double-digit leads in the lieutenant governor and attorney general races.

A Roanoke College poll released Aug. 20 showed McAuliffe with an 8-point advantage of 46%-38%.

The election will be held on Nov. 2. Republicans have not won a statewide race in Virginia since 2009.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.