WDBJ7 Web Staff
9:04 AM EST, November 28, 2012
Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling surprised Virginia Republicans with the announcement he is suspending his campaign for Governor. His decision clears the way for Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to claim the GOP nomination, and it sets up a sharp contrast for voters in the general election next year.
This was supposed to be Bolling's turn, after deferring to Bob McDonnell in the last Governor's race, but Ken Cuccinelli had other ideas, and after Republican leaders chose a nominating convention instead of a statewide primary, Bolling said there were too many obstacles for his campaign to overcome.
Harry Wilson is a Political Science Professor at Roanoke College. "When the decision was made that the Republicans were going to go to a convention," Wilson said in an interview, "I think pretty much the handwriting was on the wall there."
In a written statement, Bolling said he was concerned that a prolonged campaign could create deep divisions within the GOP. "At a time when we need to be projecting a positive image and reaching out to involve more Virginians in the Republican Party," Bolling wrote, "I am unwilling to be part of a process that could seriously damage our image and appeal."
The announcement caught many, including Republican Delegate Chris Head by surprise, but he said he's glad the party will avoid an ugly fight for the nomination. "And now we can all rally behind who will be our presumptive nominee," he said, "and really seek to move forward to a general election fight, which will be a fight no doubt."
Bolling's decision also sets the stage for a general election campaign between Cuccinelli and the likely Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe. Democrats say the differences will be clear.
"This shows you how right the Republican Party in Virginia has moved," said Democratic State Senator John Edwards, "that even Bill Bolling cannot get the nomination from his own party, because he was considered fairly moderate compared to Cuccinelli."
In a written statement, Cuccinelli praised Bolling as a "true public servant."
McAuliffe said "it's disappointing that mainstream Republicans are being driven out of leadership by the far-right."
Bolling will have his say Thursday with a news conference in Richmond.
Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling has dropped his campaign for Virginia governor in 2013.
Bolling would have run against Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in the Republican primary. Bolling officially announced that he would not run on Wednesday morning.
With Bolling out of the picture, we'll likely see a match-up between Cuccinelli and former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe.
Bolling said he dropped out of the race after the State Central Committee voted to change the way candidates are nominated from a statewide primary to a closed party convention.
“For the past several months my campaign team has worked hard to restructure our campaign to effectively compete in the convention process," Bolling wrote in a statement. "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."
This is the second time in the past four years that Bolling has dropped a gubernatorial bid. Bolling also stepped aside in 2008 to allow current governor Bob McDonnell to accept the Republican party's nomination. Bolling said he "was surprised and disappointed" by Cuccinelli's decision to seek the GOP nomination for 2013. Bolling said he had hoped that he and Cuccinelli could have formed a united Republican ticket in 2013, like he and McDonnell did in 2009.
"However, late last year Mr. Cuccinelli unexpectedly announced that he intended to challenge me for the Republican Party's nomination for Governor," Bolling wrote. "While I was surprised and disappointed by Mr. Cuccinelli's decision, I was confident in my ability to win our party's nomination for Governor in a statewide primary election, which was the method of nomination that had previously been adopted by the State Central Committee of the Republican Party of Virginia."
Virginia and New Jersey are the only states holding elections for governor next year.
Here is the entire official statement from Bolling:
Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling issued the following statement today regarding his decision to suspend his campaign for the Republican Party’s nomination for Governor of Virginia.
“When I was growing up my dad was a coal miner and my mom waited tables. We didn't have much, but my parents instilled in me a love of Virginia. I never dreamed that I would one day have a chance to help lead this wonderful state, but thanks to you, that has been my privilege.
“Throughout my 21 years in public service I have done my best to stand strong for our shared conservative values, while at the same time working with Republicans and Democrats to get things done in state government. I think that effort has been successful, and I hope you agree.
“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.
“After a great deal of consideration I have decided to suspend my campaign for the Republican Party's nomination for Governor of Virginia. Needless to say, this was a very difficult decision for me, and I know it will come as a surprise and disappointment to many, but I am confident it is the right decision.
“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. Governor 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.
“I had hoped that Attorney General Cuccinelli and I would be able to form that same kind of united Republican ticket in 2013. However, late last year Mr. Cuccinelli unexpectedly announced that he intended to challenge me for the Republican Party's nomination for Governor.
“While I was surprised and disappointed by Mr. Cuccinelli's decision, I was confident in my ability to win our party's nomination for Governor in a statewide primary election, which was the method of nomination that had previously been adopted by the State Central Committee of the Republican Party of Virginia.
“However, in June of this year the newly constituted State Central Committee voted to change the manner in which we will nominate our candidates in 2013 from a statewide primary to a closed party convention. While I did not support that decision, it had a dramatic impact on the 2013 campaign.
“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.
“In addition, 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. 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.
“I know that my decision will surprise most people and disappoint many people, but I'm confident it is the right decision. I hope that my friends and supporters, as well as those who have chosen to support Mr. Cuccinelli, will respect and appreciate the reasons for my decision.
“It has been a great honor to serve as Lieutenant Governor of Virginia for the past seven years, and I wouldn’t trade the experiences and opportunities we have had for anything in the world.
“I look forward to serving the remainder of my term as Lieutenant Governor and as Virginia's Chief Jobs Creation Officer, and working with Governor McDonnell and the rest of our great team to build a better Virginia.
“Jean Ann and I want to personally thank everyone who has done so much to support us over the years, and I especially want to thank the thousands of people who had already pledged their support to my campaign for Governor. Their support means more to us than words can express. My greatest regret in suspending my campaign is the thought that I have let them down.
“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.
“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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