As someone who is a proud member of the Fourth Estate — or at least I dabble at it — I was always uncomfortable with the idea of endorsing a candidate before an election. It makes little journalistic sense to do so, but endorsing candidates is just part of what newspapers do. But this year is different out in San Francisco, where the San Francisco Chronicle made the decision not to endorse either candidate running for senator.

While the Chronicle decided to stay out of the endorsement game, it took a few shots at both candidates in the process. I think the lead says it all, “Californians are left with a deeply unsatisfying choice for the U.S. Senate this year.”

Climate change was at the heart of the non-endorsement as the Chronicle continuously offered backhanded compliments to each candidate. Republican candidate Carly Fiorina’s campaign was described as having, “vigor and directness that suggests she could be effective in Washington,” but the positive comments quickly ended as the article said Fiorina supports an “agenda that would undermine this nation's need to move forward on addressing serious issues such as climate change, health care and immigration.” One would think this would mean major points for the Boxer campaign, but the non-endorsement was especially damning to the 19-year veteran of the Senate.

Beyond saying that Boxer failed to “distinguish herself during her 18 years in office,” Boxer was chastised for her role in this year’s failed attempt to pass cap-and-trade legislation. “Although she is chair of the Environment and Public Works Committee, it is telling that leadership on the most pressing issue before it, climate change, was shifted to Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), because the bill had become so polarized under her wing,” the paper continued.

The article underscores what a difficult choice the fine folks of California are facing on Nov. 2. Generally, Fiorina’s views are described as outside the mainstream of the traditionally liberal state. On the other hand, Boxer tends to vote the way Californians want, but her removal from the failed climate change legislation position underscores a unique lack of effectiveness for someone who is seeking a fourth term. Nov. 2 is unlikely to be a high water mark for democracy in the Golden State.

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