The first is that Mr. Connolly is the WaPo's second choice. They would much rather have Tom Davis to endorse in the general election. He's their boy and has been for years. Indeed, the Post may yet endorse Keith Fimian in the general, though I suspect they will cite Connolly's government experience and moderate, pro business credentials once again to endorse him over a neophyte in the general election in November. And they'd be right to do that.
The second thing is that the Washington Post consistently picks the moderate and is a center right paper, despite the radical right's denial of this. Unlike the Washington Times, the Washington Post retains some respectability when it comes to common sense over ideology. But that doesn't make it a progressive beacon.
For example, in last year's state Senate race, they endorsed Jeannemarie Devolitis Davis over Chap Peterson. In addition, back in 2006, they went with Harris Miller over Jim Webb in their endorsements. Actually, given this track record for influencing voters, their choice may actually be heartening for Byrne's supporters.
More telling than whom they endorse is why they endorse. Here's a brief excerpt from their 2006 endorsement of Miller:
THE CONTEST in Virginia between the two candidates seeking the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate is easily caricatured as war hero vs. wonk. One candidate, James Webb of Falls Church, is a scrappy former Marine and much-decorated Vietnam veteran with impressive literary credentials and an Emmy Award to his name. The other, Harris Miller of Fairfax County, is a longtime Democratic party apparatchik whose passion for public policy contributed to his success as a telecommunications lobbyist. Some Democrats have convinced themselves that only a candidate with Mr. Webb's résumé and panache stands a chance of knocking off incumbent Sen. George Allen, a Republican with a daunting track record of electoral success. But that would be missing a key point, which is this: Of the two primary candidates, Mr. Miller is the better-briefed, better-focused and more thoughtful. He would make the better senator.And their reason why Miller was the "better candidate" in their view is explained by what they disliked about James Webb (emphasis is mine):
He was an early and prescient critic of the war in Iraq and its likely consequences, a stand that won him converts in the blogosphere and beyond. But since announcing his candidacy he seems to have given scant time and attention to issues ranging from education to tax policy to immigration, as if the cachet of his military past excuses him from having to master the pressing questions of the present -- not the best trait for a candidate for the Senate. Mr. Webb's somewhat strident populism on trade policy tends toward xenophobic sloganeering and business-bashing. And while he is right to focus concern on the widening disparities of Americans' income and wealth, his ideas about the problem's causes and possible antidotes are sketchyNow, look at the Post's rationale for supporting Gerry Connolly over Leslie Byrne (once again, emphasis mine):
Mr. Connolly is not universally beloved; he can be thin-skinned and hardheaded. But there is no denying his dedication and effectiveness on a range of issues affecting the region, including climate change, transportation and affordable housing. Ms. Byrne has backing from unions and other progressive groups. But her sharp-elbow tactics have injected a toxic note into most of the campaigns she has run, raising doubt about her ability to work cooperatively on regional issues in Congress. The Washington area's congressional delegation has a tradition of bipartisanship; Mr. Connolly is a better bet to fit that mold.Once again, the Washington Post is simply being true to their pro business, anti-working class and anti labor bias. The Washington Post has long been the cheerleader for free trade, outsourcing, and the war in Iraq. They are to the right of Gerry Connolly by a mile. But given that Tom Davis isn't around anymore, Connolly, at least, fits into the moderate, centrist pro business, pro developer mold, with a dollop of liberalism on social issues, that the Washington Post likes.
In an era of a shrinking middle class, a declining economy, rising unemployment, and an endless war in Iraq, sapping our nation's stength, the Washington Post has basically endorsed business as usual.
But Leslie Byrne, like Jim Webb, who endorsed her early, represents change. Is she sharp edged. You betcha! Like the "strident populist" Webb, she'll fight for us!