Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling is no longer running for governor.
Bolling announced Wednesday morning that he was suspending his 2013 campaign, outlining the uphill battle he faced with Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli for the Republican nomination.
"While it may have been in my self-interest to have continued the campaign and done my best to win without regard to the consequences of those actions, I have never chosen to place my self-interest ahead of our party's best interest, and I will not do so now," Bolling, 55, said.
The two-term lieutenant governor lamented that Cuccinelli, 44, decided to enter the race instead of running for a second term as attorney general. Bolling himself had put off a bid for governor in 2009 to allow then-Attorney General Bob McDonnell to run unopposed. McDonnell and Bolling ran as a team, and won, and McDonnell vowed to support Bolling in 2013.
But Cuccinelli has said he was never part of that deal and his supporters made Bolling's path to the nomination even more difficult when they took over the state Republican Party's governing body and voted to nominate the gubernatorial candidate in a convention, which favored Cuccinelli's conservative core, rather than a primary.
Bolling said that change influenced his decision to quit.
"Conventions are by their very nature exclusive," Bolling said. "And at a time when we need to be projecting a positive image and reaching out to involve more Virginians in the Republican Party, I am unwilling to be part of a process that could seriously damage our image and appeal."
Bolling did not endorse Cuccinelli in his statement, but the conservative attorney general had high praise for his former rival.
"Throughout this race, I have kept to the premise that Bill and I are allies in governance, even if temporary competitors in politics," Cuccinelli said. "Bill Bolling is a good man - a true public servant who has worked hard throughout his career to make Virginia a better place to live and raise our families. I cannot speak highly enough of his service."
Cuccinelli now has a clear path to face former Democratic National Committee Chairman Terry McAuliffe, the lone Democrat to enter the gubernatorial race so far. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., a former governor, announced last week he would not seek another term.
Bolling said he will stay involved in the 2013 race, "not as the Republican nominee for governor, but as a more independent voice, making certain that the candidates keep their focus on the important issues facing our state and offer a positive and realistic vision for effectively and responsibly leading Virginia."