Good afternoon, and thank you all or coming.
I have a brief statement that I would like to make and after that I’ll be glad to answer any questions you may have.
For the past 16 years it has been my privilege to represent the people of Virginia at various levels of state and local government.
From 1992-1995 as a member and Chairman of the Hanover County Board of Supervisors.
From 1996-2005 as member of the Senate of Virginia.
And for the past two years as the 40th Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.
During that time I have done my best to provide the people of Virginia with aggressive and effective leadership in state government, to focus on finding solutions to the important challenges we face and to consistently support the conservative principles of government that I believe in. I think that effort has been successful and I hope the people of Virginia agree.
I have also enjoyed my public service a great deal.
There is no greater honor someone can be given that the honor of representing their fellow citizens in the halls of government. I have been humbled by the opportunities I have been given and will forever be grateful for the confidence the people of Virginia have placed in me.
I have also made many new friends as a result of my public service, seen many wonderful places and had a front row seat for some of the most significant events in our state’s history.
Those of you who know anything about my background know that I grew up in the coalfields of Southwest Virginia and Southern West Virginia. I have often remarked that if someone had told me when I was little boy - living in that three room apartment above main street in downtown Haysi, VA or in that mobile home on the banks of the Big Coal River where I lived until I graduated from high school and went off to college - that I would one day have a chance to do what only 39 other people have done in the 400 year history of Virginia I would not have believed that possible, but so it has been.
I am deeply appreciative of the opportunities I have been given and to those who have helped make these opportunities possible.
But I have asked you here today to talk about the future, not the past.
Over the past several months, there has been a great deal of speculation about my future political plans. I have tried my best to deflect this speculation, encouraging Republicans to keep their focus on the campaigns of 2008 and not begin speculating prematurely about the campaigns of 2009.
This is a challenging time for our party. If we are going to win the elections of 2008 we need to keep our focus firmly fixed on those campaigns and not become distracted about discussions of campaigns yet to come.
But despite my best efforts, the speculation has continued, and it has in fact intensified in recent weeks. Therefore, I have decided that I need to disclose my future political intentions now and not wait until after the November 2008 elections as I had hoped to do.
If I don’t address this issue now, I fear it will negatively impact our ability to work together and give our maximum effort this November on behalf of Senator McCain, Governor Gilmore and our Republican candidates for the United States House of Representatives.
I have made no secret about the fact that I would like to be Governor of Virginia someday. It would be a great honor to serve in our state’s highest elected office, and I think I would make a great Governor. I have the background, knowledge and experience to do the job, and I have the right vision for the future of Virginia.
But if there is one thing I learned form my campaign for Lieutenant Governor in 2005 it was that a statewide political campaign is a very demanding thing and a campaign for Governor is an all consuming thing
I do not believe that anyone should seek the office of Governor unless they are prepared to make that campaign the most important thing in their life and dedicate their full time and attention to that effort.
Over the past several weeks I have given a great deal of thought to whether or not I am at a point in my life where I am able to dedicate my full time and attention to a gubernatorial campaign in 2009. I have ultimately concluded that I am not.
Unfortunately, I have a number of other personal and professional commitments in my life that currently prevent me from dedicating the time that is needed to run an effective and successful gubernatorial campaign, at least not in 2009.
So, after a great deal of consideration I have decided, and today announce, that I will not be a candidate for Governor of Virginia in 2009.
As you may know, in Virginia the office of Lieutenant Governor is considered to be a part time office. Because I’m not independently wealthy and do not currently have a full time government position, I have to work for a living, just like each of you, to pay the mortgage, college tuition, the power bill and all the rest.
My first responsibility has to be to my family and I have concluded that it would not be possible for me to hold down a very demanding job in the private sector, fulfill my duties as Lieutenant Governor and run a successful campaign for Governor at the same time.
In addition, five years ago I had the privilege of joining a wonderful group of people in starting up a new business operation in Richmond. We have done well, but ours is still a young and growing business. Until that business has matured and reached its goals, I cannot walk away from the commitments I made five years ago to my business associates.
Needless to say, this was a very difficult decision for me and my family. It is difficult to have a goal and be so close to achieving that goal, only to have it deferred to another day. Nonetheless, that is sometimes the cards life deals us, and we have to play them to the best of our ability.
I know that my decision will surprise most people, disappoint many people and it may even make a few people happy. However, I am confident that it is the right decision for me and my family.
I thank all the people who have encouraged me to run for Governor in 2009. Their friendship, confidence and support mean a great deal to me, and I hope they will understand and respect the difficult decision I have made.
Six years ago, when I first started my political travels across Virginia, I did so with a good friend and colleague, Bob McDonnell. Little did we know that we would have the privilege of serving the people of Virginia as Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General.
Bob McDonnell is a good friend and a good man, and he has done an outstanding job serving as the Attorney General of Virginia for the past two and half years. It has been a privilege to work with him.
As you know, Bob has also expressed an interest in running for Governor in 2009 and I think he would make a great Governor. Should Bob decide to seek the office of Governor, he will have my full, complete and enthusiastic support.
Let me say just one other thing about the 2009 campaigns.
While I will not be a candidate for Governor in 2009, I do plan to seek re-election to the office of Lieutenant Governor.
I have enjoyed serving as Lieutenant Governor for the past two and half years. I believe I have made a positive contribution to the betterment of our state and our party, and I think I am growing into the job with every passing day. I am willing to continue serving in that capacity if it is the will of the people of Virginia.
Let me just close by saying this.
This is a challenging time for our Republican Party. The political dynamics and demographics of our state are changing and we can no longer assume that we will win statewide campaigns just because we are Republicans.
To win future elections we must work hard, we must offer the right vision for the future of our country and our Commonwealth, and we must be united and focused on the task at hand.
Hopefully, my decision to make this announcement today will enable us to accomplish that goal in 2008 without unnecessary distractions and discussions about 2009.
Thank you all very much, and I would now be delighted to respond to your questions.