When it comes to endorsements, what's a newspaper to do when its editors don't like any of the candidates? Why, punt, of course:
The words that follow should not come as a surprise. During recent months, numerous editorials in The Times-Dispatch have lamented the gubernatorial campaign.
The major-party candidates have earned the citizenry’s derision. The third-party alternative has run a more exemplary race yet does not qualify as a suitable option. We cannot in good conscience endorse a candidate for governor.
This does not gladden us. Circumstance has brought us to this pass. This marks, we believe, the first time in modern Virginia that The Times-Dispatch has not endorsed a gubernatorial nominee.
[. . .]
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.
I've never actually made a decision like this, but I've been sorely tempted a few times. It usually happens when the best person is the one espousing a philosophy I can't abide and the candidate who does share my views is as dumb as a box of rocks or otherwise seriously flawed. I usually end up trying to assess degress -- just how flawed is my candidate and how far from my philosophy is the other person -- and take my best shot, noting the dilemma in the editorial so the reader can take it into account.
I suppose some will applaud the newspaper for its courageous non-endoresment, but I think it let the voters down. They, after all, have the same flaed choices and are likely to go into the voting booth with the same "varying degrees of enthusiasm." This is the time when they might actually find a newspaper endorsement helpful, however flawed the editors think the candidate might be.
The editors seem to like the Libertarian candidate but think he would be in over his head. While a vote for him wouldn't be wasted, exactly, (it would "serve notice to Republicans and Deocrats"), it woud constitute voters "throwing away their ballots." I disagree here, too. I've voted for Libertarians and even endorsed them though I knew they couldn't win. Any vote for them adds to their crdibility and viability in the long term. Even if they don't get elected, over time their ideas can be absorbed into the mainstream. Indeed, the GOP has adopted a lot of libertarian positions.
There have been races in which this newspaper hasn't endorsed. But it wasn't because we found the candidates too flawed. It was that there were so many races that we stayed out of the ones we didn't know enough about. We urge voters not to go the polls all the time if they are uninformed. A newspaper has the same obligation.