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Could Lt. Gov. Bolling run as an Independent?

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RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR) - Lt. Governor Bill Bolling may have suspended his campaign to be the Republican nominee for Governor in Virginia, but that is not stopping speculation about his political future.

"He is keeping open the possibility, if there is some groundswell of support - particularly among people who could support the campaign financially -  that he could get back in the race as an independent," Dr. Bob Holsworth, a political analyst with CBS 6, said.

Holsworth spoke with Bolling Wednesday morning and says it is important to note the language in his announcement.

"It's not the same announcement that he made in 2009," Holsworth said.

Holsworth is referring to this part of the letter he wrote:

“I intend to remain actively involved in the 2013 campaigns – perhaps not as the Republican nominee for Governor, but as a more independent voice," Bolling says.

Bolling will hold a press conference Thursday morning in the State Capital to discuss his announcement and address such rumors.

Meanwhile reaction is pouring into the Lt. Governor's decision.

"I was a bit surprised," State Senator John Watkins told CBS 6.

"I think it is always good to have a competitive setting going into a convention or primary," Watkins added.

Governor Bob McDonnell released this statement:

"I am saddened that my great friend Bill Bolling has decided not to seek the Republican nomination for Governor next year. Bill has been a strong governing partner over the past three years and I know this decision was not easy for him. Bill is a conservative statesmen committed to bringing people together to find solutions and do what is right, an exceptional quality for an individual in public office. He would have been a very good Governor."

Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, now the presumptive Republican nominee for Governor, said this:

I am honored and proud to have served with the Lieutenant Governor over the last decade, in the State Senate, as running mates for statewide office and as leaders of Virginia State Government.

Throughout this race, I have kept to the premise that Bill and I are allies in governance, even if temporary competitors in politics. Bill Bolling is a good man -- a true public servant who has worked hard throughout his career to make Virginia a better place to live and raise our families. I cannot speak highly enough of his service.

I will honor the Lt. Governor's service by campaigning for Governor as we both pledged to govern when we were sworn in, in 2010.  I will continue the challenging work of advancing first principles in Virginia's policy arena by creating an environment for maximizing job creation, preserving life, liberty and opportunity, and working to make Virginia a beacon of hope and prosperity in these tough economic times.

Stay with CBS 6 News for the latest on the 2013 Virginia Gubernatorial Race.