Whenever we encounter Ron Fournier’s byline, we know that more often than not we will be treated to some fortune-telling and some unnamed partisans “fearing” this or that potential future event.

Yesterday we got both of these things — and more! — in Fournier’s Associated Press article about the Virginia gubernatorial race, where Democrat Tim Kaine is running against Republican Jerry Kilgore.

Fournier begins with this big-picture, forward-looking lede: “Virginia voters will elect a new governor in two weeks, and the impact could be felt well beyond the state’s borders.” Moreover, “… the results will offer new evidence whether Bush will help or be a drag on Republicans elsewhere” and “may be a preview of how politicians handle [issues like immigration] across the nation in 2006.”

But then, further along in the piece, we learn that “Democratic consultant Steve Jarding … said the national implications of Virginia’s elections are overstated.” Hmmm. Maybe the impact won’t “be felt well beyond the state’s borders.” And maybe the results won’t “offer new evidence whether Bush will help or be a drag on Republicans elsewhere.” And maybe this race isn’t a ” preview of how politicians handle [issues like immigration] across the nation in 2006.”

What’s a reader to think? Perhaps that Fournier is touching so many bases that, no matter what happens, he can say he told you so?

Finally, there was this unintentionally funny moment in the piece, brought to you by those ever-popular favorites, “fearful” anonymice who confide in Fournier:

“The president’s declining job approval ratings and a spate of ethics investigations of GOP leaders threaten to dishearten Republican voters and spur heavy turnout among northern Virginia Democrats, according to senior GOP consultants who spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared retribution from the White House.

They said their fears were supported by internal polling.” (Emphasis ours.)

Liz Cox Barrett

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Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.