Another potential candidate with strong conservative credentials has backed out of the 2009 Republican nomination campaign. Former Delegate and Assistant U.S. Attorney General Paul Harris sent an e-mail to supporters explaining his decision. You may read it at Bob Gibson's Virginia Politics blog, here. Harris joins Senator Mark Obenshain (R-26, Harrisonburg), Delegate Rob Bell (R-58, Albermarle), and 2005 nomination contestant, Richmond attorney, Steve Baril. However, the field may yet expand.

David M. Foster, the former chairman of the Arlington County School Board, may announce his candidacy, according to The Shad Plank blog. Among the 54-year-old's credentials are his long tenure on the Arlington County GOP Committee, his seven years on the Arlington County school board (2000-2007), and his membership in Attorney General Bob McDonnell's Internet Safety Task Force. Foster is the co-chair of the antitrust and trade regulation practice group of the international Washington, D.C., law firm of Fulbright and Jaworski. But not much is known about him by grassroots activists outside of Northern Virginia.

The only officially announced candidate is Senator Ken Cuccinelli (R-37, Fairfax). The decisions by Harris, Obenshain and Bell are seen early on as leaving open more of the conservative activist field for Cuccinelli with his vast grassroots network, a significant asset since the nomination will be determined through a convention. Cuccinelli has hit the ground running hard and won last weekend's Virginia Conservative Leadership Conference straw poll with 85 percentU.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia John Brownlee recently announced his resignation from that position and is expected to formally announce his candidacy soon. He received 9 percent in that straw poll while Harris received 6 percent. Delegate Steve Shannon (D-35, Vienna) is exploring an AG run for the Democrats.