The Virginia gubernatorial race has been, well, a bit awful this year. So awful, in fact that the Richmond Times-Dispatch went ahead and endorsed nobody for governor, for "the first time in modern Virginia." That snub will probably hit Republican candidate Ken Cuccinelli the hardest: The Times-Dispatch's editorial board leans Republican with its endorsements. But it's not exactly a victory for Democrat Terry McAuliffe or Libertarian Robert Sarvis, either.
Attorney General Cuccinelli, a conservative who is basically campaigning on a Religious Right, anti-gay platform, gets the harshest criticism from the paper:
Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli rigged the process for the Republican nomination when his minions changed the system from a primary to a convention, which they considered more likely to produce their desired outcome. The switch mocked Cuccinelli’s advertised fealty to first principles. The expression of raw power would have delighted sachems of Tammany Hall. Virginia does not welcome an in-your-face governor.
The editorial board goes on to refer to his stances on abortion and homosexuality as "objectionable." Even though the board has previously supported bans on late-term abortions (they characterize their stance as against abortion "for any reason at any time"), the paper writes, "we remain troubled by Cuccinelli’s approach to personhood and to regulations on clinics." So, Cuccinelli, who is campaigning on a platform designed to attract social conservatives, can't even win the endorsement of a paper who is on his side of the line in the sand. The paper also dismisses his anti-gay views tersely: "Cuccinelli’s hostility to marriage equality offends. The rights applying to human beings by definition apply to homosexuals."
The Republican is currently behind in the polls, and only falling further back thanks in part to the fall-out from the government shutdown, as he admitted earlier this month. Cuccinelli's campaign was hampered early on by his connections to a donor mired in a scandal plaguing the current Virginia Governor, Bob McDonnell. The Dispatch, while writing that he has "considerable merit in the libertarian ethos," dismisses Sarvis, the other conservative-leaning candidate for governor, as way too inexperienced for the job.
Moving on to McAuliffe, the paper believes the Democratic candidate isn't a compelling choice either: he's the "default" nomination for the party. The Times-Dispatch blames his ascension to the nomination in part on "Republican gerrymandering" after the 2010 census, which cost Ward Armstrong, the Democrats' floor leader in the Virginia House, his seat:
If Armstrong had not lost his seat, he would have rated as a formidable candidate for governor. The Times-Dispatch would have endorsed him over Cuccinelli; we would have endorsed Republican Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling over McAuliffe.
McAuliffe, it should be noted, isn't hurting for endorsements: Hillary Clinton threw her weight behind the candidate this week. He also has the endorsement of the Washington Post. But the Post's endorsement wasn't exactly a rousing one. "Staying home on Election Day is irresponsible," the editorial board argues, adding that Cuccinelli governorship would cause the commonwealth to "veer off into an ideological adventure." Which is a gentle way of reminding readers that Cuccinelli has spent considerable time on the trail defending the state's anti-sodomy laws, while McAuliffe, at least, hasn't.