Virginia Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II announced Thursday that he will run for governor in 2013, putting to rest a frenzy of speculation and setting up a high-profile intraparty battle for the Republican nomination.
He said in a letter to staff Thursday that his priority for the next two years will be to focus on his job as attorney general, and that a more formal announcement would come next year:
You have likely heard in the media the many rumors about an announcement of a run for governor. While I wanted to wait to announce a candidacy until after the General Assembly session, as the rumors swirl, I find it necessary to put them to rest.
After much prayer and consideration, I have decided to run for governor in 2013. I have always intended to let you know before the media. Shortly after you receive this email, I will be sending a statement to the media announcing my candidacy.
Being attorney general is the best job of my life, and working with so many bright and dedicated professionals in this office has made it a true joy.
We have protected vulnerable citizens from fraud, worked to get gangs off the streets through intervention as well as prosecution, saved taxpayers from millions in Medicaid fraud, fought for fair utility prices for consumers, provided our clients with official legal opinions that have never been overruled by any court, and stood up to the federal government when it broke the law and infringed on the sovereignty of Virginia and the liberty of her people.
We will continue this work together until the last day of my term. Just as I had intended not to resign as attorney general to run for a second term, I will not resign as attorney general to run for governor. The people of Virginia trusted me to be their attorney general, and I intend to give them their full four years. I also think it is important to see these lawsuits against the federal government all the way through, as they are unprecedented battles for liberty in our lifetimes.
I am committed to you and to the citizens of this commonwealth to leading this office and making this job my priority. I have no right to ask the voters for a promotion if I cannot continue to do my current job well.
I know many of you are wondering why I decided to run for governor instead of for re-election. As so many former attorneys general know from being legal counsel to every agency of state government, this job gives you tremendous insight and perspective on the inner workings of state government that no other job can provide.
Being governor of the commonwealth and all its agencies is truly a massive task, and with only four years to do it, there is little time for on-the-job training. That is especially true when Virginia and the entire country are facing unprecedented economic challenges, a bullying federal government, and financially strapped citizens who are demanding that we ensure every dollar taken from their families to pay for government is a dollar that is spent wisely. When Governor McDonnell finishes his successful term, I am convinced his successor needs to hit the ground running to keep the momentum moving forward in the face of federal and economic challenges.
I hope you have known me long enough to know that I do this out of my love for our commonwealth and to further the principles on which this country was founded. Although I originally expected to serve as attorney general for another term, my job is that of public servant, and I feel that two years from now, I can best serve the people of Virginia from the governor’s office.
Thank you for your dedication to this office and to the people we serve. I look forward to our continued work together and our successes during the remaining two years of my term.
Later in the day, Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, who is planning a bid if his own, responded with this press release:
“Needless to say, I am very disappointed by Mr. Cuccinelli’s decision to run for Governor in 2013. During the 2009 campaign, and since taking office in 2010, Mr. Cuccinelli had repeatedly stated that he intended to seek re-election as Attorney General in 2013 and that is what I and other Republican leaders had expected him to do. Unfortunately, he has now decided to put his own personal ambition ahead of the best interests of the Commonwealth and the Republican Party.
“In 2009, Governor McDonnell and I gave Virginia Republicans a blueprint for how to win statewide elections in Virginia. It started with our decision to join together and offer a united vision for the future of our state. In order to make that possible, I decided to seek re-election to the office of Lieutenant Governor and support Bob McDonnell’s campaign for Governor. Unlike Mr. Cuccinelli, I set aside my personal ambition and did what was right for the Commonwealth and our party.
“I have consistently stated my intention to run for Governor in 2013, and Mr. Cuccinelli’s announcement will not alter my intended course. After serving 10 years in the State Senate and 6 years as Lieutenant Governor, I am uniquely prepared to succeed Governor McDonnell and lead Virginia into the future. I have also served for 2 years in Governor McDonnell’s cabinet, which has provided me with the experience and knowledge of the executive branch of state government that is necessary to continue our successes. Throughout my public service I have provided conservative, results oriented leadership, and I have worked with Republicans and Democrats to get things done for the people of Virginia. That experience and record of results enables me to reach out to conservative and independent voters and makes me the strongest candidate for Governor in 2013.
“In the months to come I will keep my focus on doing a good job as Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor, fulfilling my responsibilities as our state’s Chief Jobs Creation Officer, and working to elect Republican candidates in 2012. I will also continue doing the work I have been doing to lay the foundation for my own gubernatorial campaign in 2013. If I do that work well, the political future will take care of itself.”