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Virginia Gubernatorial Prospects Take Shape

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Lt. Gov Bill Bolling, as he casts the deciding vote in a State Senate session in January. It is believed Bolling will fare better in a Republican primary than a state convention.
AP Photo/Steve Helber
Lt. Gov Bill Bolling, as he casts the deciding vote in a State Senate session in January. It is believed Bolling will fare better in a Republican primary than a state convention.

Virginia Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling is urging the Republican Party to stick with its plans to hold a statewide primary to select its nominee for the next gubernatorial election in 2013.

Last year, Republican officials decided to hold a primary rather than a convention to select its nominees for governor. But now that the party's governing board has added several new members, some are urging that the GOP reconsider that decision. University of Virginia Center for Politics analyst Kyle Kondik says a convention would benefit Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, who is challenging the lieutenant governor.

"A convention would be dominated by activists who are likely to be more conservative, and presumably they would prefer the person who is seen as the more conservative candidate in this race, Cuccinelli as opposed to Bolling," says Kondik.

The Republican Party's executive committee will meet later this month.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, intrigue is building as well. Former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe has emerged as a front-runner in the race after losing the Democratic primary back in 2009. But Kondik says his lead could be jeopardized if Sen. Mark Warner decides to throw his hat into the ring.

"If Warner jumps in, he becomes the candidate for sure," says Kondik. "I think McAuliffe has even said that. But if Warner doesn't run, I think McAuliffe is probably the odds-on favorite to be the nominee."

The results of the presidential race could be a factor because the party that wins the presidency traditionally loses the gubernatorial election in Virginia.

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