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Cuccinelli won't accept seat on Virginia Supreme Court

Former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli has withdrawn his name from consideration to the state's Supreme Court, preferring instead to remain a key player in state and federal politics.

Republicans in the state Senate advanced Cuccinelli's name on Tuesday after the chamber failed to agree on a nominee for the high court seat currently occupied by Gov. Terry McAuliffe's interim appointee, Justice Jane Marum Rousch.

McAuliffe and Senate Democrats backed Rousch for a full, 12 year-term. Republicans preferred to elect their own candidate, Appeals Court Judge Rossie Alston.

But freshman Sen. Glen Sturtevant (R-Richmond), refused to vote for Alston, saying such a move would needlessly politicize the judicial election process. With Republicans holding just a one-person majority in the Senate, that was enough to kill the nomination.

Sen. Richard Stuart (R-Stafford) forwarded Cuccinelli's name as an alternative. The Senate Republican Caucus agreed, and Cuccinelli won quick approval in the Senate Courts of Justice Committee.

But Cuccinelli demurred. In a statement posted to his Facebook page late Tuesday, he said he was "humbled and honored" to be mentioned, "but it is not something that my wife and I have previously contemplated."

"Together, we will prayerfully review this possibility in light of our family’s needs and whether or not this is the best way for us to contribute to making Virginia a better place to live going forward,” he wrote.

Wednesday afternoon, Cuccinelli made it official, saying he was not interested in the post.

General Assembly Republicans, who enjoy a substantial majority in that chamber, quickly rallied behind Appeal Court Judge Stephen McCullough, who is expected to be elected to the high court Friday.

After his loss to McAuliffe in the 2013 gubernatorial election, Cuccinelli transitioned to national politics, becoming president of the Senate Conservatives Fund, a national super PAC that supports conservative congressional candidates.

Cuccinelli is also a high profile surrogate for the presidential campaign of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz.

Virginia politicos also have long murmured that Cuccinelli will either make a second gubernatorial bid in 2017, or may seek to challenge freshman Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine in 2018.

Cuccinelli did not respond to an AMI Newswire inquiry on his political future.