We share Virginians’ misgivings about the candidates, but for us the decision is clear: Terry McAuliffe, his flaws notwithstanding, represents continuity in a state that has been well served by comity, compromise and political coexistence between the parties. Mr. Cuccinelli, the most partisan, truculent and doctrinaire attorney general in memory, represents an assault on those same customs. That’s why a number of prominent fellow Republicans, including Lt. Gov. Bill Bolling, have refused to support him, in an astonishing display of intra-party dissent.
Mr. McAuliffe, who is nothing if not a deal-maker, holds out the credible promise that Virginia will remain open, tolerant and pragmatic, friendly to business and committed to job growth. That is critical in the face of sequestration and other austerity measures in a state whose economy is heavily dependent on federal spending.
In contrast to his scattershot campaign for the Democratic nomination for governor four years ago, Mr. McAuliffe has run a focused campaign, locking up the nomination on the strength of a peripatetic outreach effort that took him to every corner of the state.
There is no disguising that 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.
Nonetheless, as a candidate for governor Mr. McAuliffe has taken sensible stands on key issues, and he has had the political savvy to stay mostly on message. Critically, he embraced the transportation funding bill enacted by a bipartisan majority of the General Assembly this year, a measure that will ensure that the state’s roads and rails keep pace with a 21st-century economy.
That stance, in line with Gov. Robert F. McDonnell’s, took courage; at its core is support for a substantial tax increase. Tellingly, Mr. Cuccinelli, who for a decade opposed every significant, politically viable effort to rescue the state’s crumbling transportation systems, did his best to subvert the bill. Mr. Cuccinelli would have Virginians believe that roads can be built on a wing and a prayer; Mr. McAuliffe had the spine to say what moderate Republicans and Democrats finally agreed on: that a modern transportation network cannot be built for free.