GOP Lt. Governor May Run As Independent In Va. Governor’s Race

Virginia's Governor's race may be about to get very interesting.


Back in  November, Virginia’s Republican Lt. Governor Bill Bolling dropped out of the race for the Republican nomination for Governor, largely because the Republican Party of Virginia’s decision to select its nominee via a party convention rather than a primary. Because of  the broad activist support behind Bolling’s then-opponent Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, it was apparent once that decision was made Bolling’s chances of winning the nomination were fairly low despite the fact that he has served as the Lt. Governor for two terms and passed up running for Governor in 2009 to allow Bob McDonnell to take a shot at the office. Since dropping out, Bolling has explicitly refused to endorse Cuccinelli, though, and there are increasing signs that that he may mount an Independent bid for Governor this year:

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling is considering whether to return to the Virginia governor’s race as an independent, and he’s asking for a little help from his friends to make his decision.

In a letter e-mailed Thursday, Bolling (R) tells supporters that he thinks “there is an opportunity to make history in Virginia this year.”

“We can send a message about the need to return more civility and a more mainstream approach to politics and governing,” the message reads. “I know it won’t be easy to win the governorship as an Independent candidate, but with your help I believe it can be done.”

Bolling is expected to announce March 14 whether he will run as an independent.

The letter directs readers to a survey asking, “Would you support an independent Republican bid for governor?”

Recent polling has shown Bolling garnering between 13-15% of the vote, taking votes from both Cuccinelli and presumptive Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe, and that’s before he’s actually announced that he’s running. In all honesty, outside of the activists in the particular parties, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of enthusiasm for either of the major party nominees here in the Old Dominion. Cuccinelli is most widely known for his social conservatism and his time as Attorney General has been fair to middling at best. Cucinelli also doesn’t strike me as having the same type of charisma as Bob McDonnell, something which went a long way toward helping McDonnell perform well in “purple” areas of the state such as Northern Virginia in 2009. McAuliffe, meanwhile, was already rejected once by his fellow Democrats when he ran in 2009 and lost the nomination to a vastly underfunded candidate named Creigh Deeds. He’s also seen as something of a carpetbagger, especially given the recent reports that he had initially considered running for Governor in at least two other states before finally settling on running again in Virginia. Bolling meanwhile, has been part of statewide politics for eight years now.The potential for such a candidate to break through in a three-way race where the two major party candidates are nothing to write home about should not be underestimated.

With Chris Christie heading for an easy victory in New Jersey, Virginia’s Governor’s race will be getting a lot of national attention this year. If Bolling does decide to enter the race, it could end up being far more interesting than already anticipated.

FILED UNDER: 2013 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. michael reynolds says:

    Which orifices do the two GOP candidates favor probing?

  2. Bolling can call himself an independent all he wants, but there are no policy differences between him and Cuccinelli.

  3. edmondo says:

    This is such an “Inside the Beltway” story that i am surprised you would even mention it. The national political media are the only ones who care about this story because it is across the river from where most of them work. If Bolling cracks 10 percent of the vote it will be a miracle.

  4. edmondo says:

    This might be the most unintentionally funny line of all of 2013.

    Cucinelli also doesn’t strike me as having the same type of charisma as Bob McDonnell,

    I almost wet myself.If Bob McDonnell has “charisma” then politics truly is show business for ugly people

  5. Virginia voter says:

    @Timothy Watson: Really, can you elaborate? So his reason is pride or animus, and not policy? There’s no way I’d vote for Cuchinelli, I already know enough. I’d at least take a look at Bolling, at least because right now I don’t know much.

  6. gawaine says:

    The Cuccinelli/Bolling fight arguably already hurt Romney – the fight last year was bitter enough that some of the grassroots groups ended up losing leadership and fundraising over it. I don’t think Bolling has a chance, but if he pulls off enough of the old guard – the people who think that the Lt Gov should become Gov – then he might hand it to the Dems.

  7. legion says:

    Maybe the VA Republicans could trade one of them to South Carolina for Sanford…

  8. @Virginia voter: He’s pissed that Cuccinelli promised in 2009 to serve two terms as Attorney General, after Bolling stepped aside and didn’t mount a challenge to then Attorney General Bob McDonnell. So, the initial agreement was the Republican nominees for 2009, 2013, and 2017 would be McDonnell, Bolling, and then Cuccinelli.

    As for the lack of policy differences, just look at Bolling’s support for the transvaginal ultrasounds and the absurd abortion regulations that were passed last year.