Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling cited difficulties raising enough money to win Tuesday as the main reason he chose not to launch an independent bid for governor. Loyalty to the Republican Party and an ugly political climate factored in as well, he said.
Some state Republicans, however, never thought Bolling's interest was genuine. One Republican Party source told The Washington Examiner that Bolling was just trying to smear former rival Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, whose surprise entrance into the race thwarted Bolling's quest for the governor's mansion.
"He's trying to extract as much blood from Ken as possible," the source said.
Even Gov. Bob McDonnell, a one-time Bolling backer, recently said on MSNBC that he doubted that the lieutenant governor would run as a third-party candidate.
Bolling insisted Tuesday he was seriously considering it.
"I am confident that I could have run a credible and competitive campaign and made a positive contribution to the public debate," Bolling said. "In many ways I would have enjoyed participating in such a campaign a great deal and I think it could have been good for Virginia."
Bolling left the race without endorsing Cuccinelli. He previously said he had no intention to endorse any candidate. In his departing statement, however, Bolling said he is "very concerned about the current direction of the Republican Party."
But the state GOP, which has undergone a public civil war since Cuccinelli announced his gubernatorial campaign, seemed ready to welcome Bolling back to the party.
"It is my sincere hope that Bill will remain involved with the Republican Party going forward," said Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Pat Mullins.