AP Political Writer
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Don't look for Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling at this month's Virginia Republican Convention, the party's statewide nominating process that he last year vehemently opposed and led him to abandon his gubernatorial quest.
The two-term outgoing lieutenant governor said he felt his disagreement with a nomination method he believes excludes too many people and caters to the most ideologically extreme precludes his involvement along with his inability to endorse presumptive nominee Ken Cuccinelli precludes his attendance.
"It certainly shouldn't come as a surprise to anybody," Bolling said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
Cuccinelli, Virginia's crusading conservative attorney general and tea party hero, is unopposed for the gubernatorial nomination in convention balloting May 18 in Richmond. Seven Republicans are vying for the lieutenant governor's seat Bolling will vacate, and Del. Rob Bell of Albemarle and Sen. Mark Obenshain of Harrisonburg are battling for the nomination to succeed Cuccinelli as attorney general.
Bolling supported a primary, which was the choice in 2011 of the state GOP central committee for nominating the party's 2013 statewide slate of candidates for governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.
By spring 2012, however, Cuccinelli's conservative backers with tea party ties had quietly won a majority of seats on the committee and last June voted to rescind the primary and instead hold a convention where conservatives would dominate, assuring Cuccinelli's nomination.
"I made it clear last year summer that I thought it was a mistake," Bolling said. "I still consider myself a Republican. We need to be opening the party up and involving more people in the party. A closed convention sends the message that we're not interested in growing our party over time."
Bolling's final hope of securing the nomination was the possibility that Gov. Bob McDonnell would leave office early for a post in Republican Mitt Romney's administration had he defeated President Barack Obama in November. With Romney's defeat leaving McDonnell nowhere to go, Bolling announced on Nov. 28 he was dropping out of the Republican race for governor, but left open the possibility that he might run as an independent.
Faced with the unlikely task of mustering more than $10 million for a statewide campaign without the backing of a major national party and the prospect of forever severing his long ties to the GOP, Bolling announced on March 12 he would not run as an independent.
Asked whether he would make an endorsement of Democratic nominee Terry McAuliffe, Bolling said it's not likely, but he didn't rule it out. He said he expects to remain out of the election and partisan issues this year and focus more on his insurance business.