With Bolling out, the stage is set in Virginia

With Bolling out, the stage is set in Virginia
With Bolling out, the stage is set in Virginia

As recently as two weeks ago, Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) looked like he was set to run for governor as an independent, telling supporters in an email that he thinks “there is an opportunity to make history in Virginia this year.”

But it appears Bolling changed his mind, and today announced he would skip the race. My colleague Laura Conaway flagged this tweet from the commonwealth this morning.

It’s not altogether clear exactly why Bolling, who originally intended to run as a Republican before bowing out, backed off his intentions from two weeks ago, but he cited high fundraising hurdles and a desire to maintain his relationship with the GOP.

In light of the news, with about eight months to go, the stage is now set for a fascinating gubernatorial race in Virginia, pitting former DNC chairman Terry McAuliffe against the state’s almost-comically far-right attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli.

Had Bolling entered the race, it stands to reason he would have pulled support from Cuccinelli, and some recent polling bolstered the conventional wisdom. With Bolling out, the McAuliffe- Cuccinelli match-up will likely be very close, and given Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) leads in New Jersey, Virginia’s contest will be the nation’s most competitive in the off-year cycle.

Also note, Bolling, even today, has not expressed support for his fellow Republican.