Bolling sets March 14 deadline for announcement on independent run


State Sen. Stephen Newman (R-Lynchburg), left, shares a laugh with Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling during the Senate session at the Capitol on Feb. 5. (Steve Helber/AP)
February 7, 2013

Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling says he’ll be ready to announce whether he will run as an independent candidate for governor of Virginia by March 14.

Bolling, who suspended his campaign seeking the Republican nomination for the state’s top job in November, said he has not yet made a decision, but that it is a “50-50 proposition.”

“We’re putting together the information we need to make a final decision,” Bolling said when asked about his self-imposed deadline. “One way or the other, we will have that decision made and announced by March 14.”

While he feels that voters would see his candidacy as credible, Bolling said he is weighing his ability to raise funds and collect the 10,000 signatures he would need by June to get on the general election ballot as an independent. He has vowed not to run as a spoiler, but only if he sees a path to victory as a third-party candidate.

If Bolling enters the race, he faces Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli as likely opponents.

As an elected official, Bolling is forbidden from raising money during the legislative session. He estimates it would take 60 to 90 days to get the qualifying petition signatures.

At the Capitol, Bolling says he has “found his independent voice,” breaking with his party and siding with Democrats on issues including Medicaid expansion and voter ID laws. This week alone, he broke ties on nine votes in the evenly divided Senate.

“The whole concept of being an independent voice is ... you try to pursue policies that are mainstream,” Bolling said Thursday. “We have to avoid the extremes. Republicans aren’t always right, and Democrats aren’t always wrong. I’ve just tried to look at the issues. ... I think that’s the kind of leadership people are looking for. Whether I’m a candidate or not, I’m going to continue doing that.”

Meanwhile, Bolling revealed that he has been trimming down. The lieutenant governor said he started Weight Watchers about a year ago and is down 44 pounds.

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