Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling announced Wednesday morning that he is hanging his hat up in the race for governor, likely to clear the way for Ken Cuccinelli, Virginia’s attorney general, to win the Republican nomination.
“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,” he said in a statement Wednesday morning. “However, not everything we want in life is meant to be.”
Bolling cited a change in the nomination process as his reason for dropping out. In the past, nominees were chosen in a statewide primary, but the 2013 candidates will be chosen at a party convention.
“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,” he said.
Bolling said he feared the convention system would only divide the state GOP, inhibiting its ability to reach and help Virginia residents.
“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,” he said in his statement.
He also said he had been “surprised and disappointed” when Cuccinelli “unexpectedly” announced his candidacy last year.
“Throughout this race, I have kept to the premise that Bill and I are allies in governance, even if temporary competitors in politics,” Cuccinelli said in the statement. “Bill Bolling is a good man — a true public servant who has worked hard throughout his career to make Virginia a better place to live and raise our families.”
Bolling didn’t reveal whether he intended to run again for lieutenant governor, but said he and his family would look at his options.
“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,” he said.
If Cuccinelli is nominated to run in November 2013, many expect he’ll face Democrat Terry McAuliffe, former chairman of the national Democratic National Committee, who announced earlier this month, just after the election, that he intends to run for governor.
White House party-crasher Tareq Salahi has also said he’ll run for the Republican nomination.
Bolling's announcement comes a week after U.S. Sen. Mark Warner announced he would not seek the Democratic nomination for governor in 2013.