Virginia Attorney Gen. Ken Cuccinelli says he has no plans to endorse a candidate in the Republican contest to replace U.S. Sen. Jim Webb in 2012 — at least, not this year.

He also repeated what he has long said about the race, that he has “no intention” of seeking the office himself.

A nod from Cuccinelli (R), whose lawsuits against the federal government over health-care reform and greenhouse gas regulations have made him a hero to many conservatives, would be an enormous boost for any Republican seeking the party’s nomination. Webb has said he will not seek reelection.

For former governor and senator George Allen (R), who is running to win back the seat he lost to Webb (D) in 2006, support from Cuccinelli would be a powerful signal that he was successfully uniting all wings of the Republican party behind his comeback campaign.

But a Cuccinelli nod for tea party organizer Jamie Radtke, or any other non-Allen candidate, would provide key legitimacy to an insurgent campaign and would signal that Allen had failed to sway the GOP’s most conservative members.

For now, the attorney general is keeping his powder dry.

“As far as an endorsement goes, that's not something that would happen while the current election cycle is still underway,” he said. “I’ve never, even for my closest allies, weighed in before the year of the election.”

A Cuccinelli candidacy, meanwhile, would scramble the entire race.

He has always before indicated that he plans to run for reelection as attorney general in 2013 but has refused to rule out possibly running for governor that year.

In an interview this week, he did not entirely shut the door on a Senate campaign. But he made it sound pretty unlikely.

“When you ask a question like that, that falls into the category of ‘I’ll never say never,’ ” he said.
“But no, I have no intention of getting in that race. I’m not thinking about it.”