BOB LEWIS,AP Political Writer
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling ruled out an independent bid for Virginia governor Tuesday, clearing the way for a one-on-one major-party showdown between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Ken Cuccinelli.
Bolling announced his decision in a morning e-mail to supporters, more than 3½ months after folding his Republican candidacy for the office in November and leaving Cuccinelli uncontested for the GOP nomination.
In the end, Bolling wrote, his decision came down to the daunting task an independent candidate faces raising money without the help of a major party, and the fact that the lifelong Republican would have to forever sever his ties to the GOP.
"You can have a winning message, but if you don't have the resources to effectively communicate that message to voters you cannot win," he wrote, saying he needed to raise $10 million to $15 million to wage a credible campaign.
"Based on my discussions with key donors over the past three weeks, I was confident I could raise enough money to run a competitive campaign, but I was not confident I could raise enough money to run a winning campaign," he said.
A campaign by Bolling would have been a major obstacle to Cuccinelli, possibly diluting the conservative vote in Cuccinelli's race against McAuliffe.
Bolling had questioned whether Cuccinelli's starkly conservative positions were the right direction for the Republican Party.
"While I am very concerned about the current direction of the Republican Party, I still have many dear friends in the Republican Party, people who have been incredibly supportive of me over the years," Bolling said.