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Ken Cuccinelli to run for governor in 2013

Obenshain, Bell jump into AG race

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has announced he will run for governor instead of for reelection.

Cuccinelli’s declaration upsets an orderly succession of the GOP ticket that swept all three statewide offices in 2009 and could prompt a nasty intraparty fight.

Gov. Bob McDonnell made it clear he is behind Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling for governor.

McDonnell, then Attorney General, agreed to back Bolling in 2013 when the lieutenant governor stepped aside and sought another term in the second slot. McDonnell reiterated his support for Bolling after Cuccinelli’s statement.

Cuccinelli acknowledged his plans in an email to his staff on Nov. 30.

Bolling, the would-be GOP nominee-in-waiting, scolded the attorney general in a statement released Nov. 30: “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,” Bolling said.

Cuccinelli becomes the fifth consecutive Republican attorney general to use the office as a launching pad for the governor’s office. But each of his four GOP predecessors — former Gov. Jim Gilmore, Mark L. Earley, Jerry W. Kilgore and McDonnell — resigned months early. They wanted to avoid conflicts of interest that would arise when Virginia’s top law-enforcement officer and head of state government’s law firm begins soliciting gubernatorial campaign contributions.

In an interview with The Associated Press after his announcement, Cuccinelli defended his intent not to resign, saying it’s commonplace for attorneys general in other states to stay put while running for governor.
“We are the only state in the country that sees any strain of thought where people feel the need to take that step,” Cuccinelli said.

AG jockeying

After Cuccinelli’s announcement, two candidates were quick to jump into the 2013 race for Attorney General.
Sen. Mark Obenshain, R-Harrisonburg, all but declared, sending a message to supporters that the was “exploring” the race.

Del. Rob Bell, R-Albemarle, made it clear he is running and declared that he is a candidate for the post.
Fairfax Circuit Clerk John Frey reportedly will enter the race as well.

— Paul Fletcher, with material from the AP

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