Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling has decided not to mount an independent campaign for governor, citing the challenge of raising money, a reluctance to sever ties with the Republican Party, and a “growing dissatisfaction” with Virginia’s political climate.
Bolling announced his decision in an email to supporters this morning, ending months of speculation about his political plans. Bolling dropped his bid for the Republican gubernatorial nomination last November, conceding that he could not defeat Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is a party convention controlled by conservative activists.
Bolling, a two-term lieutenant governor, said he looked forward to being more of an “independent voice” in policy debates after suspending his gubernatorial campaign. He also questioned Cuccinelli’s ability to appeal to moderate voters and explored the possibility of mounting an independent campaign.
“This more independent approach to governing led to widespread speculation that I was thinking about reviving my campaign for Governor as an Independent candidate,” Bolling wrtoe. “While that was not my initial intention, the reaction to a possible Independent campaign has been overwhelming, and for the past three months I have been going through a ‘due diligence’ process, trying to objectively assess the feasibility of an Independent campaign.
“Throughout this process my focus has been on one thing – what’s best for Virginia? I love Virginia and I want to make certain that we have a Governor who is committed to governing our state in a mainstream way; a Governor who will keep his focus on the big issues facing our state and work with Republicans and Democrats to solve problems, get things done and make Virginia a better place.”
Bolling said he was confident he could meet that standard, but was not sure he could raise the money to mount a winning campaign against Cuccinelli and Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe in one of the country’s most closely watched races of 2013.
“The biggest challenge an Independent candidate faces is fundraising,” Bolling wrote. “You can have a winning message, but if you don’t have the resources to effectively communicate that message to voters you cannot win. To run a winning campaign I would have needed to raise at least $10-$15 [million]. That’s a very difficult thing to do without the resources of a major political party and national donors at your disposal.”
Bolling also said he was reluctant to sever ties with the Republican Party, despite his concerns about its direction.
“While I am very concerned about the current direction of the Republican Party, I still have many dear friends in the Republican Party, people who have been incredibly supportive of me over the years,” Bolling wrote. “I have tremendous respect for them and I am very grateful for everything they have done for me.
“I value these friendships a great deal and I feel a deep sense of personal obligation to those who have done so much to make my success possible. I have heard from many of these friends over the past several months. They have encouraged me to not give up on the Republican Party and continue working to get our party back on a more mainstream course. Maintaining their friendship and respect means more to me than the prospects of being Governor and I was unwilling to jeopardize these longstanding relationships by embarking on an Independent campaign.”
Bolling also expressed dismay with the political climate in Virginia, saying it has become “much more ideologically driven, hyper-partisan and mean spirited.”
“Rigid ideologies and personal political agendas are too often placed ahead of sound public policy and legitimate policy disagreements too quickly degenerate into unwarranted personal attacks,” Bolling wrote. “This makes it more difficult to govern effectively and get things done. While I still value public service a great deal, the truth is that I just don’t find the political process to be as enjoyable as I once did. Because of this, I decided that the time has come for me to step away from elected office and look for other ways to serve Virginia.”
– Michael Sluss