Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who has said for years he would support Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling for governor in 2013 said Thursday that he plans to continue to do so despite news that Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli would jump into the race.

“Since early 2008, I’ve been clear that I will strongly support Bill Bolling for governor in 2013,’’ McDonnell said in a statement. “Bill is a trusted adviser and a close personal friend. As lieutenant governor, Bill has been a key member of our administration. Serving as our chief job creation officer, Bill has been tireless and successful in his work to bring more jobs and economic opportunities to the commonwealth. I look forward to supporting Bill in his campaign for governor.”

Cuccinelli, a tea party hero who garnered national attention for suing the federal government over the health-care law, expects to make a formal announcement after the legislative session in the spring, according to the sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so they could speak freely about his plans.

“Virginia is fortunate to have both Ken Cuccinelli and Bill Bolling serving in statewide office,’’ McDonnell said. “They are dedicated public servants and I enjoy working closely with them on a daily basis. While I do prefer a scenario in which both men continue to serve in statewide office together going forward, I certainly respect the right of the attorney general to make his own decision regarding future races.”