Virginia gubernatorial candidates Democrat Terry McAuliffe, left, and Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli debate Wednesday, Sept. 25, 2013, in McLean, Va.
Virginia's gubernatorial race has been marked by negative attacks between Democratic contender Terry McAuliffe and Republican hopeful Ken Cuccinelli, so much so that the Richmond Times-Dispatch, one of the commonwealth's largest newspapers, opted to endorse no one ahead of the Nov. 5 election.
In an editorial published on Sunday, the newspaper's editorial board opined that neither McAuliffe nor Cuccinelli were fit to earn their endorsement.
"In the past, The Times-Dispatch has endorsed candidates with varying degrees of enthusiasm. We find it impossible to endorse any of the 2013 candidates with even minimal zeal," wrote the board in the editorial, the first time in the newspaper's history that it opted against making an endorsement in the race for Virginia's top elected office.
The editorial criticized Cuccinelli for his stance on social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, while saying that McAuliffe's history as a businessman and entrepreneur provoked questions and concerns. And while it generally spared Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis from criticism—"Sarvis has neither embarrassed himself nor insulted the commonwealth"—the editorial said that he lacked the experience needed to run the state.
The newspaper has in the past endorsed Republican gubernatorial contenders, and in 2012 it chose Mitt Romney over President Barack Obama in the presidential election. But this year, it will remain quiet on who should lead Virginia.
"Elections make voters complicit in the government they receive. If we would not urge a family member to vote this way or that, then we have no business recommending Cuccinelli, McAuliffe or Sarvis to our readers," wrote the editorial board.
The Washington Post and The Virginian Pilot have both endorsed McAuliffe, who has polled ahead of Cuccinelli.