Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling is seriously considering an independent run for governor next year even if that results in his being kicked out of the Republican Party.
Bolling, who suspended -- but did not end -- his campaign for the Republican nomination after last month's presidential election, told the John Fredericks Show on Friday that he is open to running a third-party bid for governor if "I thought I had a realistic chance of winning the governorship."
"I have not ruled that out, and I'm not prepared to rule that out," Bolling said. "I know how tough independent campaigns can be. I certainly would not want to get involved in an independent campaign simply to be a spoiler of some sort. That's not my style."
A clip from the show was posted on YouTube and was first picked up by the conservative blog "Bearing Drift" Saturday morning.
Bolling last month announced that he was dropping out of the race for the 2013 Republican gubernatorial nomination, acknowledging he had little chance of defeating Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli at the party's nominating convention, Bolling said he had "no current intentions" of running as an independent. But Friday's remarks indicate he has thought through a scenario in which he would indeed get involved in the race.
The Lieutenant Governor steadfastly opposes Cuccinelli, the Tea Party darling who outmaneuvered Bolling, Gov. Bob McDonnell's handpicked successor, when he unexpectedly entered the race and backed a party coup that switched the Republican nominating process from a primary to a convention. Bolling called the move a take over by "a confederation of supporters of Attorney General Cuccinelli and various Tea Party groups and Ron Paul groups" and continued to question Cuccinelli's electability and "ability to effectively and responsibly govern our state."
Bolling rebuffed fellow Republicans who said he should support Cuccinelli for the good of the party, saying his concerns about he conservative attorney general are real.
"I wasn't just saying those things. I meant those things," Bolling said. "So for me to turn around and say, 'Well, woops, I didn't mean any of that' ... I think it would have just been a terribly hypocritical thing to do."
Bolling's refusal to endorse Cuccinelli has already put him at odds with the conservatives in his party and risks alienating the moderates who are more inclined to back him. If Bolling ran as an independent or indicated support for another candidate, state party bylaws allow for Bolling to be stripped of his stature within the party.
"If that's a decision they want to make, that's a decision they can make," Bolling said. "It doesn't bother me either way. I do consider myself a bit removed from the partisan political process."