RICHMOND, Va. (Legal Newsline) -- On Tuesday, Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli thanked Lt. Bill Bolling "for his years of service" following Bolling's announcement that he would not run for governor as an independent candidate.
Bolling, who was first elected lieutenant governor in 2005 and reelected in 2009, was at one point considered Gov. Bob McDonnell's heir.
In 2009, the two apparently agreed to a deal in which Bolling, a Republican like McDonnell, would run for a second term as lieutenant governor instead of running for governor. In exchange, McDonnell agreed to support Bolling for governor in 2013.
McDonnell cannot run for reelection because of term limits.
However, Cuccinelli chose to run for governor and, according to The Washington Examiner, "orchestrated a takeover of the state party," switching the nominating process from a primary to a convention.
In return, Bolling withdrew from the Republican race in November but was rumored to be considering a run as an independent.
In a statement Tuesday, Bolling put those rumors to rest, saying he would not run as an independent.
"Throughout this process my focus has been on one thing -- what's best for Virginia? I love Virginia and I want to make certain that we have a governor who is committed to governing our state in a mainstream way; a governor who will keep his focus on the big issues facing our state and work with Republicans and Democrats to solve problems, get things done and make Virginia a better place," he said.
"I'm confident I could be that kind of governor. Throughout my career in public service, I have done my best to stand strong for the conservative values I believe in, while at the same time respecting the views of others and promoting consensus building and results, as opposed to confrontation and gridlock. That's the kind of pragmatic, results oriented leadership we need to make certain that Virginia remains on the right track."
Bolling said given the current political dynamics in the state, the prospects of an independent campaign were "very appealing."
"Based on the positive feedback I had received from business leaders, community leaders and citizens all across our state, I am confident that I could have run a credible and competitive campaign and made a positive contribution to the public debate," he said. "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."
But he cited the challenges of fundraising as an independent and the need to sever ties with the state's GOP, which he was unwilling to do.
"You can have a winning message, but if you don't have the resources to effectively communicate that message to voters you cannot win," he said, adding that to run a winning campaign he would have needed to raise at least $10 million to $15 million.
"That's a very difficult thing to do without the resources of a major political party and national donors at your disposal."
Bolling, who did not endorse Cuccinelli in his statement, said while he was "very concerned" about the current direction of the Republican Party, he still has "many dear friends" in the GOP.
"I have heard from many of these friends over the past several months. They have encouraged me to not give up on the Republican Party and continue working to get our party back on a more mainstream course," he said.
"Maintaining their friendship and respect means more to me than the prospects of being governor, and I was unwilling to jeopardize these long standing relationships by embarking on an independent campaign."
Bolling also pointed to the "growing dissatisfaction" with the current political environment in the state as a reason for abandoning his run.
"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," he said.
"As a result, the political process has become much more ideologically driven, hyper-partisan and mean-spirited. Rigid ideologies and personal political agendas are too often placed ahead of sound public policy and legitimate policy disagreements too quickly degenerate into unwarranted personal attacks. This makes it more difficult to govern effectively and get things done."
He continued, "While I still value public service a great deal, the truth is that I just don't find the political process to be as enjoyable as I once did. Because of this, I decided that the time has come for me to step away from elected office and look for other ways to serve Virginia."
Bolling said he wished Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Cuccinelli well as they begin their campaigns.
"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," he said.
"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."
Cuccinelli, who issued a statement Tuesday thanking Bolling for his service, also took the opportunity to call his Democratic opponent a "Washington insider" and "Democrat fundraiser."
"I agree with the lieutenant governor that we need a governor who is focused on solving the problems we face like implementing a comprehensive transportation plan that addresses our long-term needs, reforming our tax code in a responsible, and balanced way that encourages economic growth, strengthening our educational system for every student, creating good jobs here in Virginia and fighting to protect the ones we already have," the attorney general said.
"That is what I will do as Virginia's next governor, just as the McDonnell, Bolling, Cuccinelli team has worked together to accomplish over the last three years."
From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at email@example.com.