RICHMOND, Va. (AP/WRIC) – A Virginia lawmaker has unexpectedly dropped out of the running to be the Republican nominee for attorney general next year.
Rob Bell, who many considered a frontrunner to be the GOP nominee, said Monday he’s leaving the race for family reasons. Bell is the father of two young children, including one with special needs.
Bell is a former prosecutor who represents a Charlottesville-area district in the House of Delegates. He unsuccessfully pursued the GOP nomination for attorney general in 2013.
His departure leaves Richmond attorney John Adams and Virginia Beach attorney Chuck Smith in the GOP nomination race, though others may join now that Bell has dropped out.
The winner will almost certainly face current Attorney General Mark Herring, a Democrat seeking a second term, in the general election.
Republican Party of Virginia Chairman John Whitbeck issued the following statement:
“A tireless public servant. A champion for liberty. A great litigator. All of these are accurate descriptions of Del. Rob Bell, but none fit quite as well as this: a fantastic human being whom I’m glad to know and call a friend.
“While I’m saddened that Virginians won’t have the chance to support Rob Bell for Attorney General, I am heartened by the fact that even with his decision to end his campaign, Republicans still have a deep bench of candidates for Attorney General – and every single one of them would be better than Mark Herring.
“Del. Rob Bell is one of the finest people I know. The people of his district are fortunate to have him as their Delegate, and I wish him all the best as he continues his service to the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
Attorney General candidate John Adams released the following statement on the departure of Rob Bell from the Attorney General’s race:
“Rob Bell has fought tirelessly for conservative causes in the House of Delegates since he was elected in 2002. And over the past 10 months, I have been crisscrossing the Commonwealth, often right alongside Rob, as we campaign to defeat Mark Herring. I have gotten to know him well out on the trail, and my respect for him has only continued to grow. He is a superb public servant and a fine man.
“Rob has been committed to defeating Herring for a long time. As we move forward, I will draw on the example Rob has set as a tenacious and relentless fighter in the battle to win back the AG’s office. I look forward to seeking Rob’s advice and counsel as we continue to campaign to restore the Attorney General’s Office to its rightful place in our system of government.”
This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.