(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.)   Of course, the conspiracy theories already are out there. What is the real reason Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling won't run for governor in 2009? (Ironically, the Richmond Times-Dispatch ran this article on page one today, explaining how each of the four would-be governors helped themselves this past General Assembly session.) One theory, in an e-mail chain, claimed that maybe Lieutenant Governor Bill Bolling thinks the GOP will lose control of the House of Delegates, so why be governor with a Democrat Senate and House?

Actually, with a unified ticket of two conservatives having been elected statewide, the GOP will have their strongest ticket in years, and will be able to raise so much money that House Speaker Bill Howell (R-28, Fredericksburg) and the House Republican Caucus is one of our winners today. Surely, House Republicans stand to benefit from strong coat tails and perhaps gain a seat or two in 2009 after years of seeing its majority dwindle in each election cycle from its 2001 peak of more than 60 members to 53 (not including independents 59th district Delegate Watkins M. Abbitt, Jr., of Appomattox and 19th district Delegate Lacey Putney of Bedford). As the LG himself said, he thought the GOP had a good chance in 2009 and he still likes its chances. He said, "It does simplify things for our party. We'll have a unified ticket and that's good for our party," and "It's shaping up to be a good year for us. We will be united. Bob McDonnell and I are stronger running together than running individually."

Herewith, some winners and losers from today's surprise announcement:

Winner: Bill Bolling. He has ensured a strong, unified ticket in 2009. His gracious and genuine manner, no matter if people believe his stated reasons or think they are cynically political, are sure to build unparalleled good will from the faithful. He's odds on to win re-election now and can help House and local Republicans, further building his organization for the future. In a second term, with a closely divided Senate, he'll play an influential role as president of that body (and will be a highly visible campaigner to restore the GOP majority in 2011). Surely he will be the front runner for governor in 2013 or, keeping his options open, Bolling could be an incredibly strong challenger to U.S. Senator Jim Webb in 2012.

Winner: Grassroots conservatives. They will be more than eager, perhaps like no state election in history, to work hard and turnout the vote for these two proven pro-life, pro-family values, conservative candidates. With the possibility of Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-37, Fairfax) rounding out the ticket as the Attorney General candidate, it could be the most limited government ticket since Patrick Henry last ran for governor.

Winner: House Speaker Bill Howell and the House Republican Caucus. For the reasons stated above. It may be a stretch, but a strong conservative and unified ticket and party certainly can't hurt recruiting candidates, funding campaigns and exciting the grassroots. At the very least, it would be a change from the recent past. It, and the resulting coat tails may also help win some House elections . . . also a sharp break from the past.

Winner: Senator Creigh Deeds (D-25, Bath). Having lost to McDonnell by just 360 votes in the 2005 campaign for attorney general, he must think he's got the best argument to win the Democrat nomination over Delegate Brian Moran (D-46, Alexandria) and probably does. Warning! Rematches almost always go to the previous winner. As they say, there's a reason they voted against you the first time.

Losers: Prince William County Board Chairman Corey Stewart, former Virginia Senator Jay O'Brien and Delegate Tim Hugo(R-40, Centreville), all of whom already were running or were exploring a run for LG. All very capable, they'll just have to wait a turn.

Losers: Any Democrat thinking of or who is planning to run for LG. See above. Bolling is the odds-on favorite. In fact, the Dems' pending bruising nominating process for governor will hurt the entire ticket. Since all three nominations are likely to be contested, it is shaping up as an uphill climb for the Dems.

Winner: John McCain. Just as his two rivals fighting each other are a gift to prospective Republican presidential nominee John McCain, a unified Virginia GOP without the looking forward to 2009 and the intraparty squabbles, organization battles and squeeze on fundraising all of that entails, will help him take Virginia off the Dems' target list pretty quickly, especially since McCain can make significant inroads with Northern Virginia moderates.