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Meanwhile, Mr. Bolling serves as the governor’s chief jobs-creation officer and has focused on less hot-button, kitchen-table issues, traveling the state to promote and highlight economic development.

Cuccinelli is an intellectual heavyweight,” said Gary C. Byler, a longtime GOP activist and chairman of the state’s 2nd Congressional District Republican Committee. “He’s a philosophical leader.”

“We all appreciate what Bill Bolling’s done for the party,” he said. “Nobody I’ve spoken to has said anything bad about Bill Bolling. They’re just excited about Ken Cuccinelli.”

Mr. Cuccinelli also indicated that he will serve the remainder of his term, instead of resigning to run for governor as has been the tradition for recent attorneys general, including Mr. McDonnell.

He defended the move by telling the Associated Press that Virginia is “the only state in the country that sees any strain of thought where people feel the need to take that step.”