Bolling asks supporters if he should enter gov's race
RICHMOND, Feb 28, 2013 (The Virginian-Pilot - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Now that polling has convinced Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling he could win a three-way race for governor, the Republican wants to know whether potential voters and donors will get behind him if he enters the field as an independent.
Bolling asked that in a mass e-mail Thursday -- it links to a one question online survey inquiring if recipients would support him in such a run as well as data suggesting voters are open to an independent candidate.
"I think there is an opportunity to make history in Virginia this year," he wrote in the e-mail. "We can send a message about the need to return more civility and a more mainstream approach to politics and governing. I know it won't be easy to win the governorship as an Independent candidate, but with your help I believe it can be done."
The two-term lieutenant governor has been exploring a possible independent bid since he withdrew from the GOP nomination contest late last year, effectively giving Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli the party nod.
Bolling has set a March 14 deadline to declare whether he'll join a field that already includes Cuccinelli and Democratic businessman Terry McAuliffe.
He's said the three that factors which will inform his decision are whether he can wage a credible campaign, raise the $10-$15 million he thinks is needed to do that, and if it's the right choice personally.
Bolling has already satisfied himself on the first count and has spent the days since the General Assembly session ended Saturday trying to determine if the financial backing is there for him.
In an interview, Bolling said he's been "reaching out aggressively to our prior financial supporters across the state," along with the "key business leaders we have to have in our corner" and other potential donors.
"We are convinced that this is a winnable race if we have the resources to effectively communicate our message to voters," he added.
Bolling said he's been making six to eight donors calls each day now that the legislative session is over; he and other state elected officials are prohibited from fundraising during that period.
He hopes to make 40-60 of those calls by next Tuesday, before he and wife Jean Ann depart for a "few days at the beach" where, assuming the other conditions have been met, the couple will choose the next step.
"If we decide we can't raise the money then the rest of it is moot," Bolling said, explaining that if he has the necessary cash commitments "then we have to make a personal decision."
Bolling said separating himself from nodding political consultants is critical to making that determination, one he said won't come easy because it would mean severing his long ties to the Republican Party.
Pondering that choice is "not the position we wanted to be in, but it's the position fate put us in," he added.
In that role, Bolling sees himself speaking for others with "concerns about the current direction of the Republican Party" who want to bring it "back to mainstream approach."
"It's just kind of fallen to me to carry this burden right now in Virginia," he said.
The internal poll Bolling released indicates that two-thirds of Virginians, or 67 percent, say they would consider voting for an independent candidate for governor if one is on the ballot.
It also showed Bolling with the highest favorable ratings among the three men; poll response are based on telephone interviews with 400 likely general election voters.
The Feb. 26 memo about the poll findings indicates its margin of error is 4.9 percent.
A separate Quinnipiac University poll done in mid-February showed Bolling at 13 percent support in a three-way contest with McAuliffe (34 percent) slightly ahead of Cuccinelli (31 percent).
Julian Walker, 804-697-1564, email@example.com
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