After Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling announced in late November that he would not run for the GOP nomination for governor, this newspaper noted its disappointment.
Though we don't endorse candidates in party nominating contests, it's always better for political races to be competitive.
But, more than that, it was unfortunate to hear that Bolling specifically wouldn't be running.
Now, we weren't prepared to formally back any gubernatorial candidate then, when it was nearly a year before the election was to be held. And we're not ready to do that today, either.
The reason it seemed unfortunate that Bolling was dropping out was that he has been heavily involved in a success of Gov. Bob McDonnell's administration: drawing jobs to Virginia.
And he has been particularly supportive of Waynesboro. For a time, it seemed that barely a week went by when Bolling wasn't here, either to announce grant funding for the city or to celebrate with a business in the community that was hiring, which is obviously no small feat in this economy.
These days, though, Bolling is known for a question: Will he, or won’t he?
That is, the gentleman from Hanover County is weighing an independent bid for the governor’s mansion.
He got out of the race last year because it appeared he was at a competitive disadvantage to Republican rival Ken Cuccinelli. The state GOP chose to select its gubernatorial nominee in a convention rather than in a primary election, and Cuccinelli, Virginia’s attorney general, was seen as the favorite in a convention setting, where fewer people would decide the winner. Bolling, on the other hand, would have more luck in a primary, the thinking went.
Without Bolling’s challenge, Cuccinelli has become the Republican standard bearer to the Democratic Party’s Terry McAuliffe.
But supporters have urged Bolling to make an independent run. He’s seen as the moderate alternative to Cuccinelli’s more extreme brand of conservatism, and as a longtime public servant in the Old Dominion whereas McAuliffe is viewed by some as a carpetbagger.
Labels aside, Bolling told a class at the University of Virginia on Monday that his choice, expected by the middle of next month, will be based on three factors: Can he raise enough money to compete, can he win and does he really think he wants to commit himself to the lonely road of an independent?
The race for governor would be plenty lively just with Cuccinelli and McAuliffe. But adding another voice to the mix could further enrich public debate and perhaps help to sharpen the focus on how our state moves forward.
Those are goals that outweigh the tradition of the two-party system.
So, a third candidacy? We would welcome it. And even a fourth, a fifth …