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“The proper venue for challenging a fellow Republican is during a nomination contest,” he said. “Lt. Gov. Bolling chose to suspend his campaign. I hope he will take his own words to heart and work to bring our party together.”

On the other side, the Democrats’ likely nominee, Mr. McAuliffe, has his shortcomings as well. He’s burnished his business bona fides within the state over the past three years by expanding work on his line of energy-efficient vehicles and other ventures, but his ties to national party politics may give some people pause, Mr. Tobias said. A longtime friend and confidant of Bill and Hillary Clinton, he was the Democratic National Committee chairman from 2001 to 2005.

Mr. Bolling said Thursday that the decision was the most difficult one he’s made in his personal or professional life. And while he reiterated that he has no current plans to launch a third-party bid or make an endorsement, he didn’t exactly slam those doors shut, either.

“I never say never to anything,” he said. “I don’t know what tomorrow’s going to hold.”