Multiple sources reported late Tuesday that two-term Virginia Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling will drop out of the 2013 race for the Republican Gubernatorial nomination in Virginia.
Bolling's surprising decision clears the way for conservative favorite, Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, to secure the nomination. It also sets up a high-profile confrontation with the expected Democratic nominee, Terry McAuliffe, who is best known as a friend, ally, and fundraiser for Bill Clinton. McAuliffe served previously as chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Shaun Kenny at the Virginia political blog Bearing Drift reported late Tuesday that “Bolling staffers are uniformly in shock about the announcement… as are key Bolling volunteers. Statement expected shortly.”
A moderate, Bolling served as Mitt Romney's Virginia state chairman. Romney's loss of the state did little to boost Bolling's political fortunes. While generally respected by Virginia Republicans, Bolling did not generate the same kind of grassroots enthusiasm as Cuccinelli, who is extremely popular with the state's many local tea party groups.
Cuccinelli won a tactical victory in June of this year when the Central Committee of the Republican Party of Virginia ruled that the party's Gubernatorial nomination in 2013 will be decided in a convention of delegates rather than a primary. The decision was widely seen as giving Cuccinelli an advantage over Bolling. In the end, Bolling may have decided that advantage was too much to overcome.