WASHINGTON -- Citing fundraising difficulties and the current partisan political environment, Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) announced Tuesday that he will not seek the governorship as an independent this year.
Bolling, who announced in November that he would not seek the Republican gubernatorial nomination, had been considering entering the November contest as a moderate independent alternative to Democrat Terry McAuliffe and state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, a tea party favorite who is the presumptive GOP nominee. Bolling said that the difficulty in raising the $10 million to $15 million needed to make a third-party statewide run was one of the main reasons he decided not to make the race.
Bolling said in a message posted on his website that he believed he could raise money to be competitive, but he believed without a party organization or national ties he would be unable to raise enough to defeat his opponents. The Washington-based Republican Governors Association and Democratic Governors Association are both expected to make heavy investments in the Virginia governor's race, one of only two gubernatorial battles in the country this year. Other third-party groups, including conservative allies of Cuccinelli, are also expected to spend heavily in Virginia.
Bolling had been expected to play a spoiler candidate in the race, grabbing moderate Republicans, particularly in northern Virginia, away from Cuccinelli, as well as moderate votes away from the Democrat. McAuliffe, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, now stands to pick up moderate Republicans who had considered backing Bolling because they find Cuccinelli too conservative.
Bolling, a two-term lieutenant governor currently serving as Virginia's chief jobs creation officer, used his statement to attack what he described as Richmond's culture of extreme partisanship, which he said has made it tough to govern. Bolling writes:
[T]he 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.