Bolling will not make independent bid for Virginia Governor

Alexis Levinson Political Reporter
Font Size:

Virginia Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling announced Tuesday that he would not make an independent bid for governor.

Bolling was expected to run as a Republican, but withdrew when it became clear that he would not be able to beat Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for the nomination. Since then, he had openly discussed the possibility of an independent bid.

Bolling siad that while he felt sure “I could have run a credible and competitive campaign and made a positive contribution to the public debate,” that he had decided he would stay out of the race entirely. In a statement, he explained that the reasons behind his decision were financial and his unwillingness to “sever my longstanding relationship with the Republican Party.”

He added that the newly “hyper-partisan and mean spirited” political process, has left him disenchanted with the idea of running for office. “I just don’t find the political process to be as enjoyable as I once did,” he said. “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 did not  endorse either of the candidates running for the post — Cuccinelli or Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic National Committee Chairman.

“I wish Mr. McAuliffe and Mr. Cuccinelli well as they begin their campaigns,” Bolling said. “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.”

“And I encourage the people of Virginia to carefully consider the decision they will make this November, he added. “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.”

An excerpt of Bolling’s statement: 

First, I know how difficult Independent campaigns can be. The biggest challenge an Independent candidate faces is fundraising. You can have a winning message, but if you don’t have the resources to effectively communicate that message to voters you cannot win. To run a winning campaign I would have needed to raise at least $10-$15M. That’s a very difficult thing to do without the resources of a major political party and national donors at your disposal. Based on my discussions with key donors over the past three weeks, I was confident I could raise enough money to run a competitive campaign, but I was not confident I could raise enough money to run a winning campaign. While it is possible that these resources could have been secured over time if the campaign progressed as we envisioned, that was an uncertain outcome and it was too big a risk for me to ask my donors to take.

Second, running as an Independent candidate would have required me to sever my longstanding relationship with the Republican Party. While I am very concerned about the current direction of the Republican Party, I still have many dear friends in the Republican Party, people who have been incredibly supportive of me over the years. I have tremendous respect for them and I am very grateful for everything they have done for me. I value these friendships a great deal and I feel a deep sense of personal obligation to those who have done so much to make my success possible. 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. Maintaining their friendship and respect means more to me than the prospects of being Governor and I was unwilling to jeopardize these longstanding relationships by embarking on an Independent campaign.

Finally, my decision was heavily influenced by a growing dissatisfaction with the current political environment in Virginia. 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. 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. 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.

Follow Alexis on Twitter