The Loudoun Times-Mirror is out with its endorsements this morning, and they're significant for a couple big reasons.
1. Loudoun County is basically THE prototypical suburban/exurban, large "swing" county in Virginia. It also usually picks the winner. For instance, in 2005, Loudoun County went by 6 points for Democrat Tim Kaine over Republican Jerry Kilgore for governor. Kaine won. In stark contrast, in 2009, Loudoun went 61%-39% for Republican Bob McDonnell over Democrat Creigh Deeds. McDonnell won. In 2006, Loudoun barely went (by about 1 point) for Democrat Jim Webb over Republican George Allen. Webb barely won. In 2012, Loudoun went for Democrat Barack Obama over Republican Mitt Romney by about 4 points. Obama won Virginia by...about 4 points. Sensing a pattern here? :)
2. The Loudoun Times-Mirror is a paper that endorses a LOT of Republicans -- Mitt Romney for President in 2012; Bob McDonnell for Governor in 2009; and John McCain for President in 2008; Frank Wolf pretty much every year; and several Republican House of Delegates incumbents (Randy Minchew, Tom Rust, Jim LeMunyon, Tag Greason) this year (note that they also endorsed Democratic House of Delegates candidates John Bell, Mary Daniel and Kathleen Murphy - all excellent picks!). No, this is not a monolithically Republican paper like the Richmond Times-Dispatch has essentially been over the years, but it's got a strong lean towards the right side of the political spectrum.
All of which makes the Loudoun Times-Mirror's endorsement of this year's entire Democratic statewide slate - Terry McAuliffe for Governor, Ralph Northam for Lt. Governor, and Mark Herring for Attorney General - so striking. These are not mealy-mouthed or wishy-washy endorsements either. A few key passages jumped out at me.
*Ken Cuccinelli "cannot resist placing his own ideological concerns above the business of governing...Whether it's conducting an independent investigation into climate change research, attempting to limit nondiscrimination policies for gays and lesbians at colleges and universities or his continued push to limit women's options on abortion, Cuccinelli cannot divorce himself from social issues and an economic platform of lowering taxes without specified budget cuts is suspect. His tendency toward the crusade du jour makes him ill equipped to serve as a mediator between political parties, an Achilles heel shared by far too many of our public officials today."
*E.W. Jackson "has continued to stand behind an ever-expanding string of extremist comments."
*Mark Obenshain's "introduction of the personhood bill gives us serious pause," and "leads us to believe that an Attorney General Obenshain would be as activist as the Cuccinelli administration ending this term."
Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. The truth really hurts, ya know?
Now, a few (very positive) words from the Loudoun Times-Mirror on the Democratic candidates.
*Terry McAuliffe: "Virginia needs someone like McAuliffe to be a salesman for the commonwealth. Whether or not his overtures will be accepted, he is also a man likely to extend a hand on bipartisan compromise. For those concerned with his lack of legislative experience, we point to the success of Sen. Mark Warner, who likewise was without experience as an elected official before his term as governor."
*Ralph Northam: An "easy" choice, as Northam's "an experienced legislator with a level demeanor and a desire to reach across the aisle to improve the commonwealth," with much to contribute on "future debates on health care and Medicaid expansion."
*Mark Herring "has fought to protect the elderly from financial abuse, supported the region on transportation issues and worked across party lines for his constituents. More important, Herring cares deeply about each and every issue he espouses and understands the human cost in bad legislation and missed opportunities. Our sole regret is that should he win, Loudoun wouldn't have Herring to represent us in the General Assembly."
In short, that was an easy call - basically a "no brainer" - for this key "swing county" paper which generally leans solidly Republican. Just as it should be for Virginia voters in 13 days. :)
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