Rob Bell at Powhatan Mass Meeting earlier this year. Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell.
I didn’t see this one coming until an email dropped into my in-box today with the announcement from Delegate Rob Bell that he has ended his campaign for attorney general in 2017:
Now that the 2016 election is over, it is time for the 2017 Virginia statewide campaigns to begin in earnest. After careful consideration, I have decided that I will not seek the position of Attorney General.
I have spent the last year traveling the state and laying the groundwork for a campaign. However, as you may know, I have two young children, one of whom has special needs. This school year has brought significant new challenges that require my personal and immediate attention. Despite my best efforts, it has become clear to me that I can’t possibly fulfill my responsibilities as a father while making a statewide run.
I am therefore ending my Attorney General campaign. I am profoundly grateful to everyone who has offered support, time, or encouragement. Unless told otherwise, I will be returning the donations I have received. Though I won’t be a statewide candidate I do look forward to strongly supporting the Republican ticket, especially against Mark Herring.
For several years, I have had the honor of serving in the General Assembly seat once held by Thomas Jefferson. I look forward to continuing my work in the House of Delegates and spending Thanksgiving with my family.
Delegate Bell ran for attorney general four years ago when he graciously stepped aside to cede the nomination to State Senator Mark Obenshain who went on to unsuccessfully challenge Democrat Mark Herring.
Generally when a candidate steps aside to make room for another, it is assumed the nomination will be his or hers the next go round. Bell has been everywhere campaigning — at Republican events, meetings, conventions, mass meetings.
Early in 2016 a challenger came on the scene, a newcomer out of Richmond named John Adams. Little known at the time, he has proven to be a ferocious contender, gradually honing his skills at campaigning as the months passed.
Still, to see today’s email from Rob is stunning, although understandable. As a mom who spent 16 years homeschooling her children, I can certainly vouch for family coming first. It is commendable to see someone who is climbing the ladder of success give up a dream for the betterment of his children who almost always suffer from parents being away for the time commitment necessary for public service.
Delegate Bell isn’t going anywhere. He will be in Richmond for the 2017 General Assembly session. His decision brings to mind the saying, “When a door closes, a window opens.” It will be exciting to see what opportunities will open for him down the road.
Update: A statement was released by AG candidate John Adams:
“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.”
That leaves the already-announced John Adams and Chuck Smith in the race but there are questions about whether this will open the field to others. Stay tuned….