Bolling Decides Against Independent Run for Virginia Governor

Not at all sur­pris­ing, the think­ing from friends of mine in the know out in Vir­ginia has long been that no one was would have been will­ing to help him fund raise, espe­cially if it meant a likely Demo­c­ra­tic vic­tory in the form of ex-DNC Chair­man Terry McAullife.

On one level, I under­stand sit­ting Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling’s out­rage at the process in Vir­ginia.  Instead of let­ting him and Attor­ney Gen­eral Ken Cuc­cinelli fight it out in a pri­mary, the Vir­ginia Repub­li­can Party took that deci­sion out of the hands of vot­ers by hav­ing the party pick its can­di­date at a con­ven­tion last year.

Bolling has been Lt. Gov­er­nor of Vir­ginia since 2006.

When I sus­pended my cam­paign for the Repub­li­can Party’s nom­i­na­tion for Gov­er­nor, I indi­cated that I wanted to be a more inde­pen­dent voice for Vir­ginia, speak­ing out more objec­tively on the impor­tant issues fac­ing our state.  Over the past sev­eral months, I have done just that.  I have sought to call Vir­ginia to a higher pur­pose, focus­ing more on pol­icy than pol­i­tics and more on the next gen­er­a­tion than the next election.

This more inde­pen­dent approach to gov­ern­ing led to wide­spread spec­u­la­tion that I was think­ing about reviv­ing my cam­paign for Gov­er­nor as an Inde­pen­dent can­di­date.   While that was not my ini­tial inten­tion, the reac­tion to a pos­si­ble Inde­pen­dent cam­paign has been over­whelm­ing, and for the past three months I have been going through a “due dili­gence” process, try­ing to objec­tively assess the fea­si­bil­ity of an Inde­pen­dent campaign.

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.

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.

Given the cur­rent polit­i­cal dynam­ics in Vir­ginia, the prospects of an Inde­pen­dent cam­paign were very appeal­ing to me, and 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.  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.

How­ever, after a great deal of con­sid­er­a­tion I have decided that I will not be an Inde­pen­dent can­di­date for Gov­er­nor this year.  There were many fac­tors that influ­enced my deci­sion to forgo such a campaign.

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.

For all of these rea­sons, I decided that I will not be an Inde­pen­dent can­di­date for Gov­er­nor in 2013.  How­ever, I truly appre­ci­ate the con­fi­dence and sup­port of those who had encour­aged me to do so and I hope they will under­stand and respect my decision.

Another unknown in the equa­tion would be how much of a fac­tor would recent deci­sions by Gov. Bob McDon­nell to impose a num­ber of taxes to help pay for the state’s high­way and trans­porta­tion infrastructure.

Recent polling in a pos­si­ble three-way match-up with Cuc­cinelli, Bolling, and McAuf­file gave the for­mer Clin­ton fund raiser the edge.  In a two-way fight, the race is cur­rently tied.

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