The Washington Post’s Virginia Politics blog is reporting  that a number of activists and commentators have begun speculating that Bill Bolling may not be dropping out of the Governor’s race after all – he may simply be dropping his bid for the Republican nomination and instead run as an independent.
They base this idea from a careful parsing of the word choice in the LG’s press release today, as well as from conversations with Bolling advisers and Bob Holsworth, one of the dean’s of Richmond’s punditry. The release, which confirmed news that broke last night on the blogosphere and quickly spread throughout the Commonwealth, specifically stated that Bolling made his decision in part because of a desire to avert damage to the Republican Party which a bloody convention battle would necessarily cause. Bolling wrote “[w]hile it may have been in my self-interest to have continued the campaign and done my best to win without regard to the consequences of those actions, I have never chosen to place my self-interest ahead of our Party’s best interest, and I will not do so now.” Yet the final paragraph included a reference to his being an “independent voice,” which was enough to get tongues wagging about just how independent a voice he may have in the campaign.
Later today, in an interview with the LG, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that Bolling would not endorse AG Cuccinelli . Bolling repeated the line about being an “independent voice,” which RTD took to be his leaving the door open to a potential independent bid. Based on his comments to RTD, it is clear that the relationship between the LG and the AG has not warmed in the year since the AG announced he would be challenging Bolling for the nomination, just a few days before the 2011 Republican Advance. Bolling’s announcement today came a year almost to the day of the AG’s announcement.
One thing Bolling did close the door on, however, was running for LG again as a Republican, stating categorically he had no desire to run on another statewide ticket with Ken Cuccinelli.
Bearing Drift contributors have been speculating throughout the day on the likelihood of Bolling actually running as an independent. Given his significant fundraising efforts and his solid infrastructure, he would be well positioned to get the 10,000 signatures required to get on the ballot as an independent. At the same time, running as an independent would still result in significant damage to the Republican Party, effectively causing a split that would make it significantly more likely for a Democrat to win in 2013. It would also go against his image as the selfless public servant, putting party and constituents over personal ambition.
And with the news that Tom Periello  may be contemplating throwing his hat into the ring as a potential spoiler in Terry McAullife’s bid to accept the Democratic gubernatorial nod by acclamation, one thing is for certain – the Governors race in Virginia is going to stay interesting for a while to come.