Story by Chris Graham
Bill Bolling will not be in the running for the Republican Party gubernatorial nomination in 2009.
“While I deeply appreciate the encouragement I have received from countless people all across our state, I have decided that I will not be a candidate for governor in 2009. While it would be a great honor to serve as governor of Virginia someday, I have decided that this is simply not the right time in my personal and professional life for me to embark on a gubernatorial campaign,” Bolling said today at a news conference in Richmond.
The announcement from Bolling, the sitting lieutenant governor, likely means that Republican Attorney General Bob McDonnell will have an uncontested path to the gubernatorial nomination in 2009.
McDonnell told “The New Dominion Show” last week that he will make his candidacy for the nomination formal after the November 2008 elections.
Bolling had hinted in a separate interview with “The New Dominion Show” that a similar announcement might have been forthcoming. He said today that the rigors of running a statewide campaign coupled with the fact that the lieutenant-governor job is a part-time job were key factors in his decision.
“If there is one thing I learned from my campaign for lieutenant governor in 2005, it was that a statewide campaign is a very demanding thing and a campaign for Governor is an all-consuming thing,” Bolling said. “Given the all consuming demands of a gubernatorial campaign, I do not believe that anyone should seek that office unless they are able to dedicate their full time and attention to the campaign.
“Because I’m not independently wealthy and do not currently have a full-time government position, I have to work for a living, just like each of you, to pay the mortgage, college tuition, the power bill and all the rest,” said Bolling, who in addition to his post of lieutenant governor has a full-time position with Riggs, Couselman, Michaels and Downs, an independent insurance agency with offices in Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Richmond, Virginia Beach and Harrisburg, Pa.
Bolling serves as a vice president with the company.
“My first responsibility has to be to my family and I have reluctantly concluded that it would be impossible for me to hold down a very demanding job in the private sector, fulfill my duties as lieutenant governor, and run a successful campaign for governor at the same time,” Bolling said.
Bolling did say that he plans to run for a second term as lieutenant governor next year.
“I have enjoyed serving as lieutenant governor for the past two and half years. I believe I have made a positive contribution to the betterment of our state and our party, and I am willing to continue serving in that capacity if it is the will of the people of Virginia,” Bolling said.
Bolling’s announcement was met with commendation from a former Republican lieutenant governor, John Hager, who is now serving as the chair of the Republican Party of Virginia.
“I understand that this was a difficult personal decision for Bill and his family. I want to commend him for his serious thought, thank him for the leadership he has given Virginia, and wish him well for the future,” said Hager, who served as lieutenant governor from 1998 to 2002 and lost a gubernatorial nomination battle to then-attorney general Mark Earley in 2001 that some observers felt was a decisive factor in Democrat Mark Warner’s upset win in the governor’s race that fall.
“First in Hanover County, then in the Virginia Senate, and now as lieutenant governor, Bill Bolling has proven that he is a devoted family man, an exceptional leader, and an exemplary public servant who has worked diligently on behalf of the citizens of our Commonwealth. These talents will serve him well as he continues his public service,” Hager said.
“We are grateful for Bill’s unwavering support of the Republican Party of Virginia. Today’s announcement underscores the party’s political strength throughout the Commonwealth as we march forward into 2009,” Hager said.