Tareq Salahi (AFP/Getty Images)
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - White House party crasher Tareq Salahi is leaving the Republican Party's gubernatorial nomination contest and launching an independent bid for the office.
Salahi's move clears what was only a nominal obstacle to Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli at the closed state Republican Convention where the GOP formalizes its slate of statewide candidates this spring.
In a release Monday that was posted on his campaign Web site, "CrashTheVote.com," Salahi says he will continue to run as a Republican even as he strikes out on his own to compile the 10,000 signatures needed on petitions qualifying him for November's ballot.
He can qualify for the ballot, but state law won't allow him to label himself there as a Republican.
Salahi and his then-wife, Michaele, attended a White House state dinner uninvited in 2009.