Bill Bolling nixes independent bid for governor

bill bollingLt. Gov. Bill Bolling announced today that he will not mount an independent campaign for governor, citing financial, political and personal reasons for the decision.

“My decision was heavily influenced by a growing dissatisfaction with the current political environment in Virginia.  Politics is much different today than it was when I was first elected.  In many ways I fear that the ‘Virginia way’ of doing things is rapidly being replaced by the ‘Washington way’ of doing things, and that’s not good for Virginia,” said Bolling, a Republican.

The move by Bolling leaves a two-way race for governor in the fall election between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli, the attorney general who outmaneuvered Bolling for the upper hand in the race for the GOP nomination.

Bolling decided last year to drop out of the nomination contest after the Republican Party’s State Central Committee decided to award its nomination at a state convention as opposed to leaving it to voters in a primary. The move seemed to favor Cuccinelli, a darling among the Tea Party set that has taken control of the state party and local committees across the Commonwealth.

Bolling said today that he didn’t initially intend to consider making a run for governor as an independent, but the initial response to suggestions in the news media that he could make an effective run at the job pushed him into doing a due diligence review of his chances if he were to enter the race.

“Given the current political dynamics in Virginia, the prospects of an Independent campaign were very appealing to me, and based on the positive feedback I had received from business leaders, community leaders and citizens all across our state,” Bolling said. “I am confident that I could have run a credible and competitive campaign and made a positive contribution to the public debate.  In many ways I would have enjoyed participating in such a campaign a great deal and I think it could have been good for Virginia.”

Chief among the factors that Bolling cited in his decision not to run: cost. Bolling said he estimated that he’d need to raise $10-$15 million to be able to mount a winning campaign.

“That’s a very difficult thing to do without the resources of a major political party and national donors at your disposal,” Bolling said. “Based on my discussions with key donors over the past three weeks, I was confident I could raise enough money to run a competitive campaign, but I was not confident I could raise enough money to run a winning campaign. While it is possible that these resources could have been secured over time if the campaign progressed as we envisioned, that was an uncertain outcome and it was too big a risk for me to ask my donors to take.”

Also important: Bolling’s longstanding ties to the Republican Party.

“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,” said Bolling, adding that those friends “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 said.

The decision likely means the end to Bolling’s political career in Virginia. He is finishing up a second term as lieutenant governor, and after being outmaneuvered twice for the Republican gubernatorial nomination, and now declining a chance at an independent bid for governor after an initial outpouring of support and momentum to do so, it’s hard to consider him as a viable candidate for political office in the future.

His focus in the here and now is on finishing out his term as lieutenant governor, and then returning to life in the public sector.

“I wish Mr. McAuliffe and Mr. Cuccinelli well as they begin their campaigns,” Bolling said. “One of these two candidates will have the responsibility of leading Virginia into the future.  This is a tremendous responsibility and it should not be taken lightly.  I encourage them to run campaigns that are worthy of Virginia; campaigns that focus on the big issues facing our state and offer a positive vision for the future of Virginia.  That’s the kind of governor the people of Virginia want and deserve.

“And I encourage the people of Virginia to carefully consider the decision they will make this November.  Our priority should be on electing a governor who has the ability to effectively and responsibly govern our state and provide the mainstream leadership we need to solve problems, get things done and make Virginia a better place to live.  Nothing less should be acceptable.”


Updated March 2, 12:48 p.m. Gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe issued the following statement on Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling’s decision not to pursue a campaign for governor:

“Virginia owes Bill Bolling a debt of gratitude for his mainstream leadership, focus on job creation, and willingness to work with both parties to find solutions.  I know he will continue to work hard for the Commonwealth’s future and look forward to hearing his ideas on how to make Virginia the best for business.

“I’m running for Governor because I believe that to create jobs and grow our economy, we need to focus on mainstream bipartisan solutions instead of divisive ideological fights.  Just this past month, I was pleased to join Lieutenant Governor Bolling, Governor McDonnell and both parties in the legislature to support a mainstream compromise on transportation.  Despite the efforts of a few on the far right to derail the compromise, we were able to come together and address a major economic issue for Virginia.

“As Bill Bolling wrote today, “Our priority should be on electing a Governor who has the ability to effectively and responsibly govern our state and provide the mainstream leadership we need to solve problems, get things done and make Virginia a better place to live.” I couldn’t agree more.”

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