Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling will not continue in the race to become Virginia's next governor. Wednesday morning, the state's second in command announced he will suspend his campaign, but some political analysts wonder if this really is the end for Bolling's run.
Bolling released a statement Wednesday morning confirming he will suspend his bid to become the Republican nominee for governor in 2013. But his statement didn't rule out the possibility that he might make a run as an independent.
A late night message on Twitter led to a deluge of news Wednesday morning, as Bolling bowed out of the race for governor. Bolling's decision leaves the door wide open for Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who is now all but guaranteed his party's nomination.
Bolling said in an official statement Wednesday, "It had been my intention to seek the Republican Party's nomination for Governor in 2013. However, not everything we want in life is meant to be."
Political analyst and Virginia Commonwealth University assistant professor Jen Thompson says Bolling would have struggled to win his party's nomination at its upcoming convention, an atmosphere political analysts say would have favored Cuccinelli.
"The tea party and the very conservative members of the Republican Party are very, very strong behind Cuccinelli. Bolling just didn't have that natural constituency within the convention," Thompson said.
But outside of the Republican convention, there is nothing keeping Bolling from continuing his bid as an independent candidate.
"At this point, I don't think it is farfetched to say that Bolling will run as an independent," Thompson said. "His statement was worded that way, and when news outlets have called on the campaign to deny it they haven't."
In his statement Wednesday morning, Bolling said, "In the coming days Jean Ann and I will be evaluating our future political options. I intend to remain actively involved in the 2013 campaigns - perhaps not as the Republican nominee for Governor, but as a more independent voice."
"So I think there is a very real possibility that he's going to explore at least a run as an independent. Now that could be very interesting and set up a lot more animosity to come," Thompson said.
Bolling will speak publicly and answer questions about his decision to leave the race in Richmond Thursday morning, and will undoubtedly face questions about whether he'll continue his run as an independent.
Statement of Lieutenant Governor Bolling Regarding Campaign for Governor
RICHMOND – Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling issued the following statement today regarding his decision to suspend his campaign for the Republican Party's nomination for Governor of Virginia.
"When I was growing up my dad was a coal miner and my mom waited tables. We didn't have much, but my parents instilled in me a love of Virginia. I never dreamed that I would one day have a chance to help lead this wonderful state, but thanks to you, that has been my privilege.
"Throughout my 21 years in public service I have done my best to stand strong for our shared conservative values, while at the same time working with Republicans and Democrats to get things done in state government. I think that effort has been successful, and I hope you agree.
"For the past seven years I have had the honor of serving as Virginia's Lieutenant Governor, and it had been my intention to seek the Republican Party's nomination for Governor in 2013. However, not everything we want in life is meant to be.
"After a great deal of consideration I have decided to suspend my campaign for the Republican Party's nomination for Governor of Virginia. Needless to say, this was a very difficult decision for me, and I know it will come as a surprise and disappointment to many, but I am confident it is the right decision.
"Four years ago I decided to set my personal ambition to be Governor aside and join with Bob McDonnell to create a united Republican ticket. Time has proven the wisdom of that decision. Governor McDonnell and I were elected in 2009 by historic margins, and for the past three years we have successfully worked together to get Virginia back on the right track.
"I had hoped that Attorney General Cuccinelli and I would be able to form that same kind of united Republican ticket in 2013. However, late last year Mr. Cuccinelli unexpectedly announced that he intended to challenge me for the Republican Party's nomination for Governor.
"While I was surprised and disappointed by Mr. Cuccinelli's decision, I was confident in my ability to win our party's nomination for Governor in a statewide primary election, which was the method of nomination that had previously been adopted by the State Central Committee of the Republican Party of Virginia.
"However, in June of this year the newly constituted State Central Committee voted to change the manner in which we will nominate our candidates in 2013 from a statewide primary to a closed party convention. While I did not support that decision, it had a dramatic impact on the 2013 campaign.
"For the past several months my campaign team has worked hard to restructure our campaign to effectively compete in the convention process. While we have made a great deal of progress, I reluctantly concluded that the decision to change the method of nomination from a primary to a convention created too many obstacles for us to overcome.
"In addition, I know how divisive conventions can be, and I was concerned that a prolonged campaign between Mr. Cuccinelli and me could create deep divisions within our party. The convention process would have forced Republican activists to take sides against their friends in local committees all across our state. The wounds that can develop from that type of process are often difficult to heal.
"Conventions are by their very nature exclusive, and at a time when we need to be projecting a positive image and reaching out to involve more Virginians in the Republican Party, I am unwilling to be part of a process that could seriously damage our image and appeal.
"While it may have been in my self-interest to have continued the campaign and done my best to win without regard to the consequences of those actions, I have never chosen to place my self-interest ahead of our Party's best interest, and I will not do so now.
"I know that my decision will surprise most people and disappoint many people, but I'm confident it is the right decision. I hope that my friends and supporters, as well as those who have chosen to support Mr. Cuccinelli, will respect and appreciate the reasons for my decision.
"It has been a great honor to serve as Lieutenant Governor of Virginia for the past seven years, and I wouldn't trade the experiences and opportunities we have had for anything in the world.
"I look forward to serving the remainder of my term as Lieutenant Governor and as Virginia's Chief Jobs Creation Officer, and working with Governor McDonnell and the rest of our great team to build a better Virginia.
"Jean Ann and I want to personally thank everyone who has done so much to support us over the years, and I especially want to thank the thousands of people who had already pledged their support to my campaign for Governor. Their support means more to us than words can express. My greatest regret in suspending my campaign is the thought that I have let them down.
"In the coming days Jean Ann and I will be evaluating our future political options. I love Virginia and I value public service a great deal. I assure you that I will continue to look for ways to make a contribution to the public life of our Commonwealth.
"I intend to remain actively involved in the 2013 campaigns – perhaps not as the Republican nominee for Governor, but as a more independent voice, making certain that the candidates keep their focus on the important issues facing our state and offer a positive and realistic vision for effectively and responsibly leading Virginia."
Statement of Governor Bob McDonnell on Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling's Decision to Forego 2013 Gubernatorial Campaign
RICHMOND - Governor Bob McDonnell issued the following statement today regarding Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling's decision to not run for Governor in 2013.
"I am saddened that my great friend Bill Bolling has decided not to seek the Republican nomination for Governor next year. Bill has been a strong governing partner over the past three years and I know this decision was not easy for him. Bill is a conservative statesmen committed to bringing people together to find solutions and do what is right, an exceptional quality for an individual in public office. He would have been a very good Governor.
I've known Bill for many years, since we began serving as legislators in the General Assembly in the early 1990's. Beginning in 2006, we served together as Attorney General and Lieutenant Governor. That fact put us on what, in most circumstances, would have been a path to an unavoidable electoral showdown. But in 2008, when our Party was suffering through a string of losses and was in need of unity to move forward, Bill took an incredibly magnanimous and selfless step. He offered to run for re-election as Lieutenant Governor in 2009, support my campaign for Governor, and run and govern as a team. I committed to him then that I would support him for Governor in 2013. Bill's move eliminated a potentially costly and divisive inter-party fight. And it played a major role in ensuring a united, reinvigorated Republican Party in 2009 that swept all three statewide offices by historical margins. Those Republican wins in 2009 were replicated in 2010 for Congress and in 2011 in the state legislature. That string of Republican success was put in motion in large part by the selfless actions of Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling. Virginia Republicans owe Bill a debt of gratitude for his commitment to our Party and its principles.
More importantly, every Virginian, in every region and of every political persuasion, owes a debt of gratitude to Bill Bolling for his work on behalf of our state. As Lieutenant Governor, and as our Chief Jobs Creation Officer, he has always put the needs of the citizens of this Commonwealth ahead of any and everything else. As the Administration official overseeing our efforts to help the private sector grow and create more good paying jobs, his record speaks for itself. Since we took office in January 2010 unemployment has fallen from 7.2% to 5.7% and over 135,000 net new jobs have been created in our state. Bill Bolling gets results. There hasn't been anyone more dedicated to the mission of getting our economy back on track and Virginians back to work than Bill Bolling. That record would have made him a formidable general election candidate for Governor. I'm sorry he won't get to share his record, and his positive vision, with the voters of Virginia next year.
I have spoken to Bill about his decision. I know he believes it is the right one. I have also told Bill how much this Commonwealth needs him to stay involved in public life in the years ahead. And I know he is not done advocating positive conservative ideas. Bill is a smart and principled leader of character. I sincerely thank him for his service to Virginia.
Now, as we prepare for the 2013 campaign, I look forward to helping elect Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli as the next Governor of Virginia."