Virginia newspaper endorses Gary Johnson
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One of Virginia's top newspapers endorsed Libertarian Party nominee Gary JohnsonGary Earl JohnsonThird-party voters made it difficult to predict 2016, says pollster A Senator Gary Johnson could be good not just for Libertarians, but for the Senate too Clinton would beat Trump in landslide in 2016 re-run, says Hill.TV poll MORE for president Saturday. 

The Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial board backed the former New Mexico governor, calling him a "reasonable and formidable" alternative to Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonMueller's team asking Manafort about Roger Stone: report O'Rourke targets Cruz with several attack ads a day after debate GOP pollster says polls didn't pick up on movement in week before 2016 election MORE and Republican nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump renews attacks against Tester over VA nominee on eve of Montana rally Trump submits 2017 federal income tax returns Corker: Trump administration 'clamped down' on Saudi intel, canceled briefing MORE.

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"[H]e’s a man of good integrity, apparently normal ego and sound ideas. Sadly, in the 2016 presidential contest, those essential qualities make him an anomaly — though they are the foundations for solid leadership and trustworthy character," the paper wrote.

It seems to be Johnson's first newspaper endorsement.

The paper applauded Johnson's business and political experience and encouraged voters in the swing state to give him a fair shot in the election and urged the commission that governs presidential debates to include him on the debate stage.

Johnson met with Times-Dispatch staff this week, they said, and sealed the deal on the endorsement.

"We found him to be knowledgeable but unscripted, reasonable and good-humored, self-assured but free from arrogance, willing and able to address every question, consistent in his beliefs without being dogmatic, even-tempered, curious — and in all respects optimistically, realistically presidential," the board wrote.

The paper has endorsed Republicans in every presidential election since at least 1980, beginning with Ronald Reagan. But its editors wrote that 2016 is the year to break the binary system, especially as controversy swirls around both major-party nominees.

"We are confident that, if given the opportunity to make his case, Gary Johnson will persuade millions of Americans that he is the most capable and ethical candidate running this year. We endorse him and look forward to a rejuvenating surprise in November — a new birth of freedom," the paper wrote.

Virginia polling puts Clinton well ahead of the pack in a four-way race that also includes Green Party nominee Jill Stein. But Johnson's numbers in Virginia are several points better than his nationwide results, with his RealClearPolitics average at nearly 11 percent in the swing state.