(Because of a technical malfunction that crashed this site on April 4, and took down every post and comment after March 14, the following has been re-posted. It was originally written March 24, 2008.) Lieutenant Governor Bolling made it official a few moments ago: He will not run for governor in 2009. He even left it to the end of his statement (click here) to confirm that he will run for re-election as lieutenant governor. He was firm in his statement, as well as in answers to repeated questions from the media, that his decision had nothing to do with creating a unified GOP ticket with now presumptive GOP nominee Attorney General Bob McDonnell (click here for his statement), but did concede that it was a benefit to the party.
Instead, he cited personal and professional reasons (click here for news release), noting that he started an insurance business five years ago with four partners and still has college tuition and mortgage bills to pay. The office of lieutenant governor is not a full-time position (though its demands are), so he still is active in his company as a full-time executive. He said that running statewide is "very demanding" but that running for governor is "all consuming." He said in the future, with his company more mature, the kids out of college and the mortgage paid off, he would be in a better position to run for governor.
The LG's reason for making the statement now was clear: He noted that he has said repeatedly that in order for the Republican Party to succeed in 2008, it must be squarely focused on 2008 and not speculate on 2009. However, he said, speculation has continued and he did not want it to be a distraction for the Virginia presidential campaign of U.S. Senator John McCain (R-Arizona); of the Virginia candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives, a few of whom are targets of the national Democrats; and of the U.S. Senate campaign of former Governor Jim Gilmore.
Lieutenant Governor Bolling said he knew his decision would surprise some, disappoint a lot (click here for his letter to supporters), relieve many party leaders eager to avoid a tough nominating contest, but also was confident he could win the office of governor and that he would be a "great governor." Although he has the "background, knowledge and experience to do the job . . . and the right vision for the future of Virginia," he acknowledged it was not the right time professionally nor personally. He said, "I do not believe that anyone should seek the office of governor unless they are prepared to make that campaign the most important thing in their life and dedicate their full time and attention to that effort.
"Over the past several weeks I have given a great deal of thought to whether or not I am at a point in my life where I am able to dedicate my full time and attention to a gubernatorial campaign in 2009. I have ultimately concluded that I am not."
In response to reporters' questions, he said he made the decision "a couple of weeks ago" and had been "leaning toward it for the last several months." He told Attorney General McDonnell and GOP leaders within the last few days or so. He also noted while it was an "agonizing personal decision," it was the "right decision" and that he is "very comfortable" with it and has "no second thoughts." He made it clear he does want to be governor some day, admitting he's made no secret of that. He endorsed McDonnell for governor and noted for several reasons - experience, knowledge and vision - make their ticket hard to beat.
Concluding his prepared remarks, he said:
"This is a challenging time for our Republican Party. The political dynamics and demographics of our state are changing and we can no longer assume that we will win statewide campaigns just because we are Republicans.
"To win future elections we must work hard, we must offer the right vision for the future of our country and our Commonwealth, and we must be united and focused on the task at hand.
"Hopefully, my decision to make this announcement today will enable us to accomplish that goal in 2008 without unnecessary distractions and discussions about 2009."