Republican Va. Beach mayor endorses McAuliffe; sheriff remains neutral

Ken Stolle, sheriff of Virginia Beach and a former state senator, has declined to endorse fellow Republican Ken Cuccinelli in part because the candidate for governor declined to support a friend of Stolle’s, Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment.

Stolle, who served 18 years in the state Senate before he ran for sheriff of the key Hampton Roads community, said he has no plans to endorse Democrat Terry McAuliffe but will instead remain neutral in the race.

Stolle’s non-endorsement may seem an issue mostly of interest to Virginia political insiders, but his reasoning is symbolic of ongoing deep divisions within Virginia’s Republican party.

Stolle, Norment and Cuccinelli all served together in the state Senate prior to Cuccinelli’s 2009 election as attorney general, a time when Cuccinelli was one of the most conservative members of the Senate and at times clashed with Norment and other more moderate Republicans.

Stolle’s concerns emerged on the same day that Will Sessoms, the Republican mayor of Virginia Beach, announced he will endorseMcAuliffe Tuesday.

Endorsing a Democrat for the first time in two decades, Sessoms said he believed McAuliffe was better positioned to boost the Hampton Roads economy and support the region’s transportation and education needs