Rob Bell Won’t Run for AG

Del. Rob Bell has often been cited as a likely contender for attorney general in the 2009 election, largely on the basis of his sizeable war chest, an artifact of going without a serious challenger in his tailor-made Republican district (in which I live). Now Bell tells Bob Gibson that he won’t be running for AG, citing his impending second child as a higher priority. Of course, there’s nothing keeping him from changing his mind: Paul Harris, who used to hold Bell’s seat, declared on March 10 that he wasn’t running for AG, only to announce precisely the opposite fifteen days later.

Democrats had hoped that a distracted Bell would either retire from his seat in order to run for AG (unlikely) or simply be unable to defend his own seat, and lose it to a centrist challenger. Straight-up running against him isn’t likely to get Dems real far. As Will Goldsmith explained in C-Ville Weekly last month, Bell works hard and gets a lot done. Though a lot of folks might not like what he gets done, neither corruption nor laziness exist to provide a purchase for prying him out of his seat.

18 Responses to “Rob Bell Won’t Run for AG”


  • Waldo, how lovely to see the phrase “to provide a purchase for prying him out of his seat” in this blog. It seems your work at VQR is starting to rub off on you.

  • Obenshain says no to attorney general bid
    By Bob Gibson
    Daily Progress political blogger

    Potential GOP candidates for attorney general are dropping out in pairs.

    One day after Del. Rob Bell, R-Albemarle County, said no to a 2009 bid, Sen. Mark Obehshain, R-Harrisonburg, joined him in citing family considerations for not running statewide.

    Bell said he and his wife, Jessica, just learned she is pregnant.

    Obenshain cited other family considerations, leaving former Del. Paul Harris as potentially the strongest challenger to the only announced Republican in the field, Sen. Ken Cuccinelli, R-Fairfax County.

    Del. Steve Shannon, D-Vienna, appears to be the most active Democrat eyeing the 2009 attorney general’s race.

    Here is the text of Obenshain’s statement announcing today that he is not running:

    “Over the past several months I have been encouraged to run for Attorney General of Virginia. After great consideration and deliberation, I have decided that I will not be a candidate for that office in 2009.

    “To have the opportunity to serve Virginia’s citizens as Attorney General would be a great honor and privilege. It is a job for which I feel well suited by my professional endeavors over the past 21 years and by my public service. I have been encouraged by phone calls, e-mails and comments from friends from across Virginia and for that I am grateful.

    “My family is the abiding consideration for me in deciding to forego a run at this time. I have two children in high school, and I am very proud of them. I understand the sacrifices my family would have to make in order for me to seek statewide office at this time, and they are too great.

    Thanks to one and all for the encouragement you have provided both for my consideration of a run for AG, and for my service in the Senate of Virginia.”

  • I may have missed it, and this in no way cases aspersions on Bell’s work ethic or character, but I’m not aware of any bill or cause he’s championed that required any sort of political courage. Going after schoolyard bullies and rapists doesn’t require a ton of gumption. If that’s what Virginia wants out of their AGs, so be it. I’m looking for somebody who’s willing to fight battles against enemies that WON’T lay down. Somebody who occasionally is willing to take unpopular positions out of a sense of right and justice. Somebody who will protect our rights, not trample them in the name of “security” or “fighting the terrorists over there so we don’t have to fight them over here.”

    I think there are actually some Virginians who would be a little surprise that having a Democratic AG wouldn’t mean rioting in the streets and prisoners being sprung from Death Row. As the state continues its slow but measurable shift to blue, politicians like Bell are going to start to see a little less of a free ride. Of course, that doesn’t mean the Albemarle Democrats would actually run somebody viable against him!

  • And don’t forget that Oppie also wants to legislate that all DUI convicts have “I drank and drove” tattooed on their foreheads. Golly Pa, that smarts!

  • Waldo, how lovely to see the phrase “to provide a purchase for prying him out of his seat” in this blog. It seems your work at VQR is starting to rub off on you.

    You may be right. :)

    I may have missed it, and this in no way cases aspersions on Bell’s work ethic or character, but I’m not aware of any bill or cause he’s championed that required any sort of political courage. Going after schoolyard bullies and rapists doesn’t require a ton of gumption.

    I couldn’t have said that better myself, Al. (Though Perlogik may disagree. ;) Bell pushes a lot of brochure bills and a lot of “tough on crime” measures done without any apparent analysis of whether there’s actually a need to increase punishment.

  • We can say what we want about Bell but he does listen to his constituents, answers the phone, returns emails even to us democrats UNLIKE some other folks I won’t name.

    I actualy think it is kind of sweet that he wants to be with his wife at this time and not out campaigning.

  • I am with Jan on this (Bell is the ONLY Republican I have ever voted for in my life). He does listen to his constituents and I like having a legislator who spends time on bipartisan issues.

  • I do like the influence of VQR on Waldo’s writing style…but as a former English major, I’d suggest that “purchase” when used in this manner does not require an article — not “a purchase,” but simply “purchase.”

    I rest this opinion on those masters of dialogue, the Coen Brothers, as can be seen in this quote from Raising Arizona (as Hi, in voice-over narration, describes Edwina’s infertility):

    “The doctor told us that her womb was a rocky place where my seed could find no purchase.”

    Feel free to post your favorite quote from Raising Arizona!

  • Cecil,

    I think that you are quite right, although I probably would have reached for something by Patrick O’Brian in search of an example rather than thinking to quote ‘Raising Arizona.’ Would it be correct to assume that this quote has been floating around in your head day after day for the last 15 years or so? Tormenting you perhaps?

  • Bell is the ONLY Republican I have ever voted for in my life

    When was the last time you had a viable option? Seriously. When I hear/read things like that it makes me think of Debbie Wasserman Schultz – the Florida Democrat in Congress who heads up the Blue to Red task force. She refused to provide support to the three Democrats fighting three Republicans in South Florida because the Republicans were easy to work with and were people she respected. She even said she would be “working behind the scenes to help those Democratic candidates but not – by not publicly coming out against my – the Republican incumbents.” I’m sure they provide great constituent service as well.

    Is there a suspicion that if Bell went down to a Democrat the Dem would provide no constituent services? And are constituent services on a par with how a legislator votes?

  • Well Al, we’ll probably never know since the dems can’t ever find anyone to run against Bell. I find it hard to believe that there isn’t one dem in this area that could run against him and win.

    And are constituent services on a par with how a legislator votes?

    uh yeh. Isn’t it the job of us constituents to express our opinions to our legislators? They represent us I thought.

  • Bob Gibson, do you think the problem is the job duties, managing a large office of attorneys, issuing opinions, etc., or is it the rigors of running for the office? Or perhaps [a] lack of party enthusiasm?

    As for “purchase”, I suspect “a purchase” is more correct, and it’s clearer. The example of “no purchase” supports “a purchase” as its opposite. “Not any purchase” would be the precise opposite of simply “purchase”, right?

  • (My “a purchase” argument is not too serious, by the way.)

  • Oh now it’s on.

    Regarding “purchase”: let’s not forget that when Waldo (and H.I. McDonough, for that matter) uses the word, he’s using not the usual definition of the word, as in “I purchase a car,” but rather a less common (but still valid) definition, to wit (from Merriam-Webster online),

    “(1): a mechanical hold or advantage applied to the raising or moving of heavy bodies (2): an apparatus or device by which advantage is gained b (1): an advantage (as a firm hold or position) used in applying one’s power ”

    The Free Online Dictionary offers these three definitions:

    “2. A grip applied manually or mechanically to move something or prevent it from slipping.
    3. A device, such as a tackle or lever, used to obtain mechanical advantage.
    4. A position, as of a lever or one’s feet, affording means to move or secure a weight.”

    Since Waldo was talking about “prying” Bell from his seat, this is the definition he’s using; if you were trying to pry someone or something recalcitrant from its position, you would seek to get some kind of leverage on the object, a foothold from which to push or pry — purchase, in other words.

    Raising Arizona is a great movie and nothing about it torments me. I cherish all quotes from it, especially “mighty good cereal flakes, Miz McDonough!”

  • Well Al, we’ll probably never know since the dems can’t ever find anyone to run against Bell. I find it hard to believe that there isn’t one dem in this area that could run against him and win.

    Well… it’s true no one viable has run against him on the Democratic side, there are several formidable Dems in the district that have declined because of family obligations. Maybe not in 2009, but definitely beyond that Mr. Bell will see quite the challenge.

    About that 2009 thing. Waldo?

  • About that 2009 thing. Waldo?

    It takes a hell of a good human being to run for an office he knows he’s not going to win. To do that, he’s got to be prepared to give up a year of his life, to put his reputation on the line, and know that, in the eyes of the public, he’ll be a loser.

    I am not that good of a human being.

    I do fantasize about a race in which that’s possible, though. How amazing would it be for a well-entrenched incumbent to, in the public’s interest, make known that he’s looking for a quasi-challenger, wants to have a series of debates, will agree to a campaign pledge, etc? Then somebody could step up to the plate, knowing that they’re not getting into a quagmire, function as an intellectual challenger, and give the public an honest choice?

    Some day.

  • Ed Wayland was/is one of those guys Waldo talks about. He did all of those things when he ran against Paul Harris, pre-Bell. He did a great job and won 40% of the vote. Ed has since moved away and we miss him.

  • Ed is definitely that guy, you’re right. He told me at the time that he knew he didn’t have much of a shot, but that somebody had to do it. I can’t remember how old I was at the time (19 or 20, maybe), but I do remember thinking that seemed like a pretty impressive trait.

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