One of California's largest—and notably left-leaning—newspapers has given GOP candidate Carly Fiorina a significant boost in her bid to unseat entrenched incumbent Democrat Barbara Boxer. The San Francisco Chronicle issued an a rare non-endorsement in the increasingly tight California Senate race, saying that Boxer has "failed to distinguish herself during her 18 years in office," while hedging that Fiorina's conservative agenda "would undermine this nation's need to move forward on addressing serious issues such as climate change, health care and immigration."

Though the paper's editorial board was hardly favorable to the Republican challenger, its ringing non-endorsement was more an indictment of Barbara Boxer's "failure" rather than an assessment of the former Hewlett-Packard CEO. Pundits, who were generally surprised by the editorial, parsed its electoral implications.

  • 'Narcissistic' Move by the SF Chronicle contends Tim Cavanaugh at Reason. "If you can't get behind either Republocrat you should just run a box saying 'NO ENDORSEMENT,' or -- dare we say it? -- endorse a third party candidate. To the degree endorsements provide any service to the reader, the service is advice about the options in an election. A non-endorsement endorsement is like a tour book that tells you there's nothing to do where you're going."
  • This Will 'Cost' Boxer a Fourth Term in Senate sarcastically relays The Daily Mail's Don Surber. "I have been writing editorials for 20+ years. You don’t kick a three-term senator to the curb without great deliberation. This is better for Carly Fiorina than an endorsement would be. It is a liberal choking on 18 years of elitist liberalism of an insufferable, self-absorbed Queen of Mean."
  • The Chronicle's Decision Is 'Absurd' writes Robert Cruickshank at San Francisco's alternative online daily BeyondChron.org. Cruickshank defends Boxer's Senate record stating that her time in office has "generally been spent under an extreme right-wing majority in Congress, an extreme right-wing President, or both. Of Boxer's 18 years in Congress, only 6 of them came with a Democratic Congressional majority, and only 4 have come with a Democratic president. From 1995 to 2007, Boxer had to contend with Republicans who absolutely refused to make any deals with Democrats unless Democrats sold out their constituents and agreed to support a far-right agenda." He found the Chronicle's rationale for their non-endorsement "contradictory and ignorant of key facts, producing an outcome that lacks basic intellectual credibility."
  • Chronicle 'Goes As Far as It Can to Support Fiorina' ventures Red State's Moe Lane. It's important to remember, the blogger reminds us, that "an endorsement of the Republican candidate for Senate by the San Francisco Chronicle would be about as likely as my being able to get to the Moon by jumping up and down on the ground hard enough. What they did instead was to give as strong a statement about Carly’s technical campaign skills as possible…then helpfully noting Carly’s (actually mostly mainstream) conservative positions."
  • The Paper 'Isn't as Liberal' as Many SF Residents, but a reigning incumbent Democrat like Boxer still should have been able to garner an endorsement, observes Kerry Picket at The Washington Times. The Chronicle makes the case that "she did not make herself available enough to her constituents and only won elections because her opponents were underfunded and not terribly talented candidates." Needless to say, this may hurt come election day: "If this is the amount of excitement coming from Ms. Boxer's own liberal base, one can hardly imagine what kind of turnout Senator Boxer can expect in November."