As Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling (R) weighs whether to throw his hat into the Virginia gubernatorial race as an independent, at least one former occupant of the governor’s mansion — Democratic Sen. Timothy M. Kaine — thinks Bolling could run a strong race.

“I’m a Terry McAuliffe friend and supporter, but I will say this: Bill Bolling is a good guy, and he’d be formidable,” Kaine said Friday on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown.”

McAuliffe (D) and Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R) are their respective parties’ nominees for governor in a race that polls show to be essentially tied. Bolling, who gave up on challenging Cuccinelli for the Republican nod, is now considering an independent bid. On Thursday Bolling e-mailed supporters with a survey asking whether they’d back him if he runs.

Kaine noted that Bolling was elected to the Hanover County Board of Supervisors not long before Kaine was elected to the city council in nearby Richmond. Bolling then ended up serving as lieutenant governor when Kaine was governor.

“We’ve sort of come up through local and then state politics working together,” Kaine said, later adding: “He has to decide ­-- you have to fit through kind of a narrow keyhole to run an independent race that’s successful, and he’s going to have to make that decision.”

Though Bolling is a Republican, it’s not clear-cut that Democrats should root for him to enter the contest to take votes from Cuccinelli. A recent Quinnipiac University poll of a three-way matchup showed McAuliffe getting 34 percent, Cuccinelli 31 percent and Bolling 13. More specifically, the poll found Bolling winning 10 percent of Republicans, 5 percent of Democrats and 21 percent of independents.