Lt. Gov. Bil Bolling will end his campaign for governor today, according to multiple media reports, leaving Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli with a clear path to the 2013 Republican nomination.
There’s no word yet from Bolling’s campaign, but Politico reported late last night that Bolling plans to exit the race this morning.
Bolling’s bid for the GOP nomination was set back in June when the Republican Party’s governing body reversed an earlier decision to nominate its 2013 ticket by open primary and instead opted for a state convention. The vote was a defeat for Bolling, who had urged members of the party’s state central committee to stick with plans for a primary. Cuccinelli preferred a convention. He has proven that he can produce a strong turnout of conservative grass-roots activists who can have greater influence in conventions than in open primaries.
Former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe has announced his candidacy for governor. U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., who served as governor from 2002 to 2006, announced last week that he will not make another try for his old job. Democrats will have a primary to nominate their statewide ticket next year.
Bolling is serving is second term as lieutenant governor. He put his gubernatorial ambitions on hold in 2009 and supported fellow Republican Bob McDonnell, who won the general election in a landslide. McDonnell tapped Bolling to be his administration’s chief jobs creation officer, enabling Bolling to play a bigger role than lieutenant governors historically have had in state government.
Bolling had vowed to fight on with his candidacy after the GOP switched its nominating method to a convention. He served as Virginia state chairman for Republican Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign. After Romney’s defeat earlier this month, Bolling said the election proved that Republicans had to nominate a candidate capable of winning support from moderate and independent voters. He has questioned whether Cuccinelli can do that.
“The key to winning in Virginia is to reach out to moderate and independent voters and make them a part of our team,” Bolling wrote in a Nov. 16 message to supporters. “These voters look at a candidate’s qualification, at their record of results, and they demand that the candidates they vote for support a results oriented approach to governing our state. I have a record of doing this.
“What these voters will not support are candidates who are viewed as being too extreme for Virginia. Candidates who are solely ideological. Candidates who thrive on conflict and confrontation. Candidates who are drawn to controversial and divisive issues. Candidates who are polarizing in their approach to politics and policy. If we nominate these kinds of candidates we will lose in November of 2013 and turn the Governor’s office over to the Democrats.”
– Michael Sluss