Bolling to make decision to run for governor as independent next month

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
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Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling could still end up playing the spoiler in the Virginia governor’s race this year.

The Republican is openly mulling a bid as an independent, and he has said he will announce his decision on March 14.

In an interview on the John Fredericks Show on Monday, Bolling said he was still “50-50” as to whether he would jump in the race. Bolling had initially planned to run as a Republican, but opted not to run when it became clear that he could not defeat Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli in a primary. The Democratic candidate in the race is former DNC Chair Terry McAuliffe.

Bolling said he’s considering three questions.

“Is there a realistic opening in this campaign for a credible independent candidate, and would I be viewed as a credible independent candidate? We’ve answered that question,” Bolling said. “There clearly is an opening in this campaign for a credible independent candidate, and I think all of the evidence that we’ve seen indicates that I would be viewed as a credible independent candidate. So we’ve answered that question.”

Another issue, Bolling said, is whether he could win.

“There’s a difference between running a credible or a competitive campaign and being able to run a winning campaign,” he said. “A lot of being able to run a winning campaign has to do with your ability to raise money,” something he noted he was unable to do as lieutenant governor until the Virginia General Assembly went out of session.

“It’s one thing for somebody to say, ‘Bill, we want you to run.’ It’s another thing to say, you know, we’ll help you raise the $10 or $15 million that it’s gonna take to run a winning campaign,” Bolling reasoned.

Lastly, he said, he was still deciding whether he and his wife wanted to commit to running.

“Is it right for us in our personal life, but also, do we want to sever our longstanding relationship with the Republican Party? We have to figure that out, and we’ll have that figured out by March the 14th,” Bolling said.

The most recent public poll on the race, a Public Policy Polling poll from early January, found Bolling to be the only candidate of the three with a net positive favorability — 29 percent favorable to 16 percent unfavorable, compared to Cuccinelli’s 29 percent favorable and 45 percent unfavorable, and McAuliffe’s 25 percent favorable, 26 percent unfavorable.

But he was also less well-known than either, with 56 percent saying they did not know what their opinion of him was. In a three way trial-heat, he netted 15 percent of the vote, to McAuliffe’s 40 percent and Cuccinelli’s 32 percent.

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