Virginia's Lt. Governor Bill Bolling on Wednesday formally withdrew from the race for the governorship. That decision appears to give Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli easy access to the Republican Party nomination for governor.
The likely Democratic nominee will be the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Terry McAuliffe, who, at this point, is the only person to have publicly expressed interest in the race.
Bolling had won big endorsements for his bid for the top executive job in the state: popular current Governor Bob McDonnell had endorsed Bolling, and powerful Republican Congressman Eric Cantor also endorsed Bolling.
But the Lt. Governor was outmaneuvered by Cuccinelli, who talked GOP leaders into choosing a candidate by convention, rather than by primary. The convention route favors more conservative candidates.
"The true-blue conservatives just have got a lot more fervor and are more likely to show up for a convention," explained Republican Corey Stewart, the Chairman of the Prince William Co. Board of Supervisors.
Stewart is among seven candidates who are vying for the Republican nomination for Lt. Governor.
In a written statement, Bolling conceded that the choice of a convention for nomination "created too many obstacles for us to overcome."
So, Cuccinelli will now likely waltz to a nomination victory at the party convention.
Cuccinelli is loved by many conservative activists, in part, because of his legal challenges as Attorney General to Obamacare and to climate change (and a former UVA scientist who studies the issue).
"Cuccinelli has got substantial supporters moving him forward, I think, now," said Toni-Michelle Travis, Ph.D., who teaches politics at George Mason University.
But some of Cuccinelli's legal efforts have been, according to Professor Travis, "Very controversial, and not necessarily all positive, in that, he lost the court cases he brought. He did not win them."