In Virginia elections, typically, the candidate with the higher favorability rating wins the governor’s race. This is technically what’s happening in Virginia, where Democrat Terry McAuliffe is now leading Republican Ken Cuccinelli by a large enough margin that magazines are starting to write how-he-won think pieces. But McAuliffe’s got a favorable rating average around negative 7. He’s beating Cuccinelli because he’s less disliked; because the stories of McAuliffe’s investments, like the underperforming and SEC-investigated GreenTech, are not spooking voters as much as Cuccinelli’s donor scandals and social conservative crusading.
This has produced a highly readable ouvre of “endorsements” from newspapers that can’t bring themselves to back Cuccinelli but feel slightly slimy about endorsing McAuliffe. My favorites:
The Washington Post, endorsing McAuliffe:
Mr. McAuliffe, a self-described wheeler-dealer who burst on to the national stage as a prodigious fundraiser for Bill Clinton in the 1990s, lacks the close engagement with policy possessed by Virginia’s recent governors. The ultimate political insider, his stock in trade has been playing the angles where access and profit intersect.
The Richmond Times-Dispatch, endorsing no one:
McAuliffe styles himself a businessman and entrepreneur. He inhabits the crossroads where the public and private sectors intersect and sometimes collide. His experience with GreenTech does not generate confidence. He located the plant in Mississippi, which is not known for its social enlightenment. The company has not lived up to expectations. If it eventually does, no credit will accrue to McAuliffe, for he has, he says, stepped away from it. He is not the reincarnation of Henry Ford. His ignorance of state government is laughable and makes Rick Perry, the notorious governor of Texas, look like a Founding Father.
The Virginian-Pilot, endorsing McAuliffe.
The Democratic nominee has never held elected office. Like his opponents, he supports drilling for oil and gas off Virginia’s coast, a position that needlessly risks two of this region’s biggest economic engines: the military and tourism. He is saddled with baggage after decades as a fundraiser in national party politics, as a businessman whose political and financial interests frequently intertwine and as someone whose connections to powerful figures have proven as much a liability as an asset. … [H]is decision to bolster his entrepreneurial credentials by purchasing a stake in an electric vehicle manufacturer, GreenTech Automotive, has proven problematic. The company still hasn’t fulfilled his promises to build a major plant in Mississippi, produce thousands of vehicles or employ hundreds of people. Federal authorities are looking into whether company officials promised a financial return for foreign investors who put up big money in exchange for a visa.
The Daily Press, endorsing McAuliffe:
Democrat Terry McAuliffe has never held public office, and there are concerns about his history of mixing business ventures with his work as a political operative. … [N]o one is perfect, and voters must decide which man will best serve them.
I’m not even counting the Charlottesville Daily Progress, which argued for a wasted write-in vote for Bill Bolling, the GOP lieutenant governor who was effectively denied a shot at the big job by Cuccinelli (the party opted for a convention, not a primary, meaning a 100 percent chance of a Bolling loss instead of the mere 95 percent chance offered in a primary), and has spent the year since undermining the party.