WASHINGTON (CNN) – Virginia Attorney General Bob McDonnell, the Republican party’s candidate for governor, announced Tuesday he will resign his post February 10 to campaign full time.
“To remain in this office while running a gubernatorial campaign wouldn’t have been fair to you, the taxpayer,” McDonnell said in a YouTube message featuring the Virginia State Capitol as an opportune backdrop. He was elected to the post in 2005.
“Historically, Democratic and Republican Attorneys General have stepped down from this post in order to run for governor,” he said. “I think it’s the right and proper thing to do.”
McDonnell isn’t the only candidate to step down from office to focus on the race: In December, Democrat Brian Moran resigned his seat in the House of Delegates to campaign full-time, a move that allowed him to raise extra campaign cash since members of the General Assembly are banned from fundraising during legislative sessions.
Moran is competing in a three-way primary with state Senator Creigh Deeds and former Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe. The winner of that June 9 primary will face McDonnell in the general election in November.
McAuliffe released a statement on McDonnell’s resignation “welcoming” him to the race.
“There is no single issue facing our commonwealth today that is more important than getting our economy back on track, and I believe the race for governor will be about who has the right experience to grow our economy,” McAuliffe’s statement said. “I look forward to comparing records and debating the issues with Bob.”
UPDATE: The Virginia Democratic Party issued a statement comparing McDonnell to Jim Gilmore, Mark Earley and Jerry Kilgore - other losing Republican candidates who once served as Attorney General. (Gilmore won the governorship but lost a Senate bid last year.)
"As a full-time candidate, Mr. McDonnell will have plenty of time to answer Virginians about why he repeatedly stood in the way of the progress that Governor Kaine and Governor Warner have made over the last seven years," said C. Richard Cranwell, chairman of the state Democratic party.