It’s official: Bill Bolling suspends gubernatorial candidacy

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling announced Wednesday that he has suspended his campaign for the Republican Party gubernatorial nomination, calling the move “the right decision” and clearing the way for Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to get the party nod.

“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,” said Bolling, who is finishing up his second term as lieutenant governor, having been first elected in 2005 and re-elected in 2009.

Bolling had also mulled over a run for the GOP gubernatorial nomination in ’09 before stepping aside to allow then-Attorney General Bob McDonnell to run unopposed for the nomination. McDonnell then led a statewide sweep of the 2009 general elections with Bolling and Cuccinelli joining in the landslide victories for the Republican ticket.

“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.  Gov. 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,” Bolling said today.

Bolling added that he had hoped for similar unity heading into the 2013 cycle, and that he was surprised by Cuccinelli’s move to challenge for the nomination for governor. The move by the state party to forego a party primary for a convention to decide the nominee had a “dramatic impact” on the 2013 campaign, Bolling said.

“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,” Bolling said.

“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,” Bolling said. “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.”

Bolling did not address his future political plans in the statement.

“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,” Bolling said.

“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.”

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