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Doug Wilder, Creigh Deeds and the Fix Endorsement Hierarchy



Richmond Mayor Doug Wilder has created an endorsement category all his own. AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Former Richmond Mayor Doug Wilder's (D) decision not to endorse state Sen. Creigh Deeds' candidacy for governor in Virginia after weeks of speculation that he would in fact do so has led us to create a brand new category in the Fix endorsement hierarchy: the non-endorsement endorsement.

For those not familiar with the Fix endorsement hierarchy (for shame!), here's a quick refresher running from most to least influential.

* The Symbolic Endorsement: Ted Kennedy backing Barack Obama during the 2008 primaries.
* The State-Specific Statewide Endorsement: Florida Gov. Charlie Crist throwing his support to John McCain just before the Sunshine State presidential primary.
* The Celebrity Endorsement: Oprah Winfrey for Obama
* The Newspaper Endorsement: Des Moines Register for John Edwards in 2004.
* The State-Specific Non-Statewide Endorsement: Rep. Connie Mack IV endorsing Gov. Charlie Crist's Senate candidacy in Florida.
* The Obligatory Endorsement: Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran endorsing McCain's presidential bid in 2008.
* The Pariah Endorsement: Rod Blagojevich's endorsement of Roland Burris.

To this list, we add -- in honor of Doug Wilder -- the non-endorsement endorsement, which clocks in between the obligatory endorsement and the pariah endorsement in terms of its influence (or lack thereof).

For weeks, Wilder had been courted by prominent Democrats -- including President Barack Obama -- to publicly support Deeds.

Wilder, who was the nation's first black governor since Reconstruction when he was elected in the Commonwealth in 1989, remains an influential figure in the state's African American community -- a voting bloc Deeds badly needs to line up solidly behind him to beat former state Attorney General Bob McDonnell (R) this fall.

Wilder, as is his tendency, publicly waffled about the idea of backing Deeds -- drawing significant press attention to the "will he or won't he" sweepstakes.

Then, late last week, Wilder not only decided not to endorse Deeds but put out a long statement detailing why he had made that decision. Wilder hit Deeds for his support of a tax increase to pay for transportation improvements ("This is not the time in our Commonwealth to talk about any kind of tax increase," said Wilder) and for his past support for gun rights provisions ("For this situation to exist and for Democrats who lead our party to say nothing is puzzling and inexplicable.").

Wilder did add that his decision not to back Deeds was "not intended to detract from Mr. Deeds in terms of character or commitment to the task of being Governor" but the damage was done.

Deeds' campaign would have been far better off if Wilder had simply stayed on the sidelines -- not endorsing but without a bright spotlight shining on that decision. As it played out, Wilder's public consideration and ultimate non-endorsement created a week's worth of stories about whether or not Deeds can unite the party -- particularly black voters -- behind his candidacy.

For that alone, Wilder deserves -- and gets -- his own category in the Fix endorsement hierarchy.

By Chris Cillizza  |  September 29, 2009; 10:30 AM ET
Categories:  Governors  
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Comments

An endorsement is nothing but a special interest ploy especially made for stupid people and the advancement of communism.
A good example would be a pedophile priest or a heathen preacher or criminal politician.
This idea and practice should be outlawed. What good is a vote that some one else made your mind up on? You or your party ask me who I voted for and I'll tell you its none of your business. You call me on the phone and recommend I vote for your candidate, I'll call you a jerk and hang up on you. You tell me a right wing radio talk show host is a Christan, and I'll call you a stupid heathen.

Posted by: kimkimminni1 | September 30, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Every time he closes his eyes, I'm sure. And jack-booted communist nazis forcing government insurance on his grandmother, right before they pull the plug on her. He doesn't sleep well at all.

Posted by: nodebris | September 29, 2009 9:20 PM | Report abuse

snowbama:

Did you see school children being forced to sing songs to Obama????

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2009/09/29/rnc_chairman_compares_kids_sin.html

Posted by: JakeD | September 29, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

To summarize:

It's not really an argument. It's more like one person persistently insisting on something that everyone else dismisses as absurd.

Posted by: nodebris | September 29, 2009 9:02 PM | Report abuse

To recap:

"I agree with btdome, especially since Wilder basically admitted McDonnell is an upstanding candidate whom he would vote for."

Posted by: JakeD | September 29, 2009 11:06 AM

"Wilder nowhere said or implied that he would vote for McDonnell; that is wishful thinking on your part."

Posted by: nodebris | September 29, 2009 11:09 AM

That's been the whole argument from the very beginning.

Posted by: JakeD | September 29, 2009 8:36 PM | Report abuse

I have the word weasel in my dictionary, too! There it is: "when proven wrong the weasel will say something was "implied"."

Posted by: margaretmeyers | September 29, 2009 8:32 PM | Report abuse

Doug Wilder just wants to be the center of attention. He can't stand that no one really cares what he thinks- so create some drama.

Posted by: comnt8r | September 29, 2009 6:19 PM | Report abuse

You people may think it's unimportant who Gov. Wilder will vote for -- let alone endorse -- so, by all means, feel free to have the last word on the topic.

Posted by: JakeD | September 29, 2009 4:41 PM | Report abuse

"I could just as easily claim"

Easily, yes. Aptly, no.

Posted by: nodebris | September 29, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

You could claim it a fool's errand to see "who jumped up," but it is pretty clear.

Posted by: justjoeking | September 29, 2009 4:22 PM | Report abuse

nodebris:

I could just as easily claim that posting on September 29, 2009 at 3:44 PM is a fool's errand, but at least my post was on topic.

Posted by: JakeD | September 29, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

OK, justjoeking, as I see it then we both agree that Wilder didn't endorse either candidate. Who he is going to vote for personally seem obvious to me, not so much to you. I guess we'll just leave it at that.

Posted by: JakeD | September 29, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like he was mostly talking about himself, what he did in office, what his priorities were.

Clearly he is not happy with Deeds about guns. If I were a betting man, I'd guess that Wilder wanted concessions from Deeds on guns in return for an endorsement, and he didn't get it.

If he wanted to endorse McDonnell, he'd have done it. With a lot fewer words. He wants attention, he wants Deeds to switch on guns, and he wants a Democrat in the governor's mansion who owes him something. In that order.

Posted by: justjoeking | September 29, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

"Trying to tease that out of his public statements is a fool's errand."

And look who jumps up to volunteer.

Posted by: nodebris | September 29, 2009 3:44 PM | Report abuse

No, justjoeking, he didn't "endorse" McDonnell (maybe some REPORTER could actually ask him about that?) but who else do you think he is talking about:

"There may have been no period in our State’s history when the voters are more aware of what issues confront them in their choice for Governor. We have undergone the worst economic downturn since the Depression. I have previously set forth the things that I would look to see the next Governor address. (1) Who is best suited by temperament and training to govern in hard times? (2) Who has presented to the people realistic plans for Education, Transportation, Health Care, Public Safety and Social Services, etc.? (3) Who is strong enough to stand up for the state when tough calls have to be made? 4) Who has the vision that can inspire confidence and assure people that Virginia can still move forward, even while confronting difficult choices.

The overriding “issue” in this year’s Governor’s race will be the judgment the voters make about which candidate is most capable of managing tough times and establishing the right priorities for when the economy begins to recover.

Throughout my entire involvement with public service, I have tried to be a voice for those most often left out when decisions are being made which affect them in their everyday lives. As a state senator, I fought to get rid of the sales tax on food. As Lt. Governor, I fought to get rid of the sales tax on non-prescription drugs and opposed the increased sales taxes for transportation, because they are regressive taxes, meaning the poor pay at the same rate as the rich. I have lived long enough not to assume that these voiceless people can always count on someone articulating for them.

This is not the time in our Commonwealth to talk about any kind of tax increase, especially those that are fundamentally regressive and will hit hardest those who are struggling.

Rather, it is the time to put our fiscal house in order, strengthening the Commonwealth for the future.

Now is the time to replenish the “Rainy Day” fund which has bailed several administrations out of deficits, but will be all but depleted for future administrations to have at their avail. It is a time to do everything possible to let the public know that we are serious about getting a handle on spending and controlling it better. Re-examine the efficiency and effectiveness reports, previously administratively commissioned, draw from them, and make this reform agenda further known to the public. It is a time to return to the funding of “necessities” rather than “niceties”.

Furthermore, In my conversations with the people across the state, I have not encountered anyone who has listed as their priority the need for them to have more handguns. The present law permits anyone of sufficient age, who is not a felon, to be able to buy one gun a month; twelve a year, twenty four a year for couples etc..

Mr. Deeds thinks that’s not enough and signed a pledge to repeal that law."

Posted by: JakeD | September 29, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse


I see no point in debating who Wilder will vote for. Trying to tease that out of his public statements is a fool's errand. To state the obvious, he hasn't voted yet, and no one knows the future.

What he has SAID is, he will not endorse Deeds. And he has given no indication that he is inclined to endorse McDonnell. And that's all that's important here.

Posted by: justjoeking | September 29, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

reason5:

There's "no question" that Wilder will vote for someone he disagrees with on guns and taxes -- who he refused to endorse even at the urging of the President of the United States -- when the economic recovery is "The Issue" facing Virginia voters?! Again, that is an interesting "exercise [of] your logical prowess". Good luck with that.

Posted by: JakeD | September 29, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

reason5, good points but I think you go too far when you say "now that the black community is not lining up behind Deeds." Wilder has great influence, especially in Richmond, but does not solely represent the black community in Virginia, and there is no indication that they aren't lining up behind the Democratic nominee. Level of engagement is at question, but not their support.

Posted by: nodebris | September 29, 2009 2:41 PM | Report abuse

One category of endorsement I'm surprised is NOT on the list is the "cross-party endorsement". They're infrequent, certainly, but their rarity increases their value, depending on the endorser. Three obvious examples from the last election:

- Colin Powell endorsing Obama
- Zell Miller and Joe Lieberman endorsing McCain

The effect of each endorsement varied, but each of them carried significant weight in their own way, more pronounced locally with the McCain endorsements.

I'd place this slightly above the "celebrity endorsement" category.

Posted by: gateway_joe | September 29, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I think it's no question that Wilder will vote for Deeds. The big question now that the black community is not lining up behind Deeds is this: how many of these black voters that brought Obama Virginia will stay home and not vote? That's what will hurt Deeds. No mistake though, that will hurt Deeds badly. Especially in Northern Virginia, where McDonnell & Lt. Gov. Bolling are originially from. McDonnell will do well in Northern Virginia, and without black turnout for Deeds, McDonnell is the favorite in this election.

Posted by: reason5 | September 29, 2009 2:05 PM | Report abuse

Occasionally I like to watch him go all in on an obviously pathetic argument, to reset his level of credibility as it were. It's pretty easy to provoke him thus. Plus, it's a slow day.

Besides, G&T, you're one to talk.

Posted by: nodebris | September 29, 2009 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Why are you guys engaging JakeD? You all know he's stupid, you all know he's a liar. Save your time.

Posted by: GoldAndTanzanite | September 29, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

LOL the clear implication of one statement on one issue.

Of course the McDonnell thesis and his voting record as a Delegate on social issues will play no role in Wilder's decision of whom to vote for. LOL

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | September 29, 2009 1:16 PM | Report abuse

Chris Cillizza:

Who do YOU think that Gov. Wilder is voting for?

Posted by: JakeD | September 29, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

nodebris:

I never said that Wilder ENDORSED McDonnell -- what I said is that Wilder is voting for McDonnell (especially since he agrees with McDonnell on taxes right now) and that is the clear implication -- you are free to debate the opposite conclusion.

Posted by: JakeD | September 29, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

jaked reveals his profound ignorance of party politics. Surprise.

Wilder's concern is the correct Democratic Party platform. His non-endorsement is expressing his disapproval of where Deeds is taking the party. It in no way implies he would vote for the Republican, anymore than Limbaugh's ranting about McCain implies that he endorsed Obama.

You bring neither knowledge nor honesty to the discussion, jaked. Your partisan hackery is transparent and boring.

Posted by: nodebris | September 29, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse

So, by "exercis[ing] your logical prowess" that means that Wilder IS voting for someone he refused to endorse, even when Dems all the way up to the President of the United States himself asked for said endorsement?

Interesting.

Posted by: JakeD | September 29, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

"Jake seems to operate in two legal modes: bully (when he is pressing his opinions) and weasel (when he is defending his positions). I think his defense of his post about Wilder saying McDonnell was a candidate he could vote for falls into the category of weasel. How about you?

Posted by: margaretmeyers"

This is why we don't respond to jaked. OF COURSE Wilder isn't voting for McDonnell. Is this seriously a topic to be debated?

Sheesh, if you guys really want to exercise your logical prowess, I know of some six year olds that need to be taught that babies don't come from storks.

Posted by: DDAWD | September 29, 2009 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Even in a country which suffered none of the wartime destruction that others suffered in the 20th century, Argentina began that century as one of the 10 richest nations in the world-- ahead of France and Germany-- and ended it as such an economic disaster that no one would even compare it to France or Germany.

Politically brilliant and charismatic leaders, promoting reckless government spending-- of whom Juan Peron was the most prominent, but by no means alone-- managed to create an economic disaster in a country with an abundance of natural resources and a country that was spared the stresses that wars inflicted on other nations in the 20th century.

Someone recently pointed out how much Barack Obama's style and strategies resemble those of Latin American charismatic despots-- the takeover of industries by demagogues who never ran a business, the rousing rhetoric of resentment addressed to the masses and the personal cult of the leader promoted by the media. But do we want to become the world's largest banana republic?

Posted by: snowbama | September 29, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Time to Act Like a President
Washington Post, by Richard Cohen

Sooner or later it is going to occur to Barack Obama that he is the president of the United States. As of yet, though, he does not act that way, appearing promiscuously on television and granting interviews like the presidential candidate he no longer is. The election has been held, but the campaign goes on and on. The candidate has yet to become commander in chief.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The second day straight that a leading voice for a lib rag (yesterday it was Howard Fineman) accuses Empty Suit Boy President Comrade Urkel for being the narcissistic windbag he is, and that he is neither a leader nor an executive. Hey, he's still just "voting present." We here knew that all along.

Even the morons are starting to get it.

News flash - Iran wants a bomb. someone ought to tell Obimbo.


Posted by: snowbama | September 29, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

I don't see the words "vote" or "voting" anywhere.

Do you see the word "implication" in the dictionary?

Posted by: JakeD | September 29, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

All I see is Wilder saying they are both worthy men, I differ on some issues with Deeds and so I'm not endorsing him. I don't see the words "vote" or "voting" anywhere.

"...I find that he, as well as Mr. McDonnell are fine and honorable men and well suited to that task. The question before me is whether I support the Democratic candidate’s position in addressing these issues. I have not thus far in the progress of the campaign, and as aforesaid refrain from so doing."

Posted by: margaretmeyers | September 29, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

koolkat_1960:

Wilder disagrees with BOTH candidates on the issue of guns, but agrees with McDonnell over Deeds on the issue of taxes right now -- read it again: "The question before me is whether I support the Democratic candidate’s position in addressing these issues" so maybe he will answer the question of who he is voting FOR, or maybe he won't, but the implication is clear -- I will leave it up to your "imagination" but I gave you my answer already.

Posted by: JakeD | September 29, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

It ain't over 'til it's over. Students of Virginia political history will remember the 1994 Senate contest in which Doug Wilder, as ever his own man, first leaked as set of embarrassing tapes, then ran himself as an independent, but in the end endorsed and campaigned for then-Sen. Chuck Robb, who won in a squeaker against Ollie North and Marshall "By Golly Not Ollie" Coleman at least partially due to a Wilder-assisted black voter turnout. One of my brushes with greatness was running into Wilder as he and I were both leaving the Robb victory party; such was the moment that a political nonentity and the nation's first elected black Governor embraced like long-lost friends...

Posted by: ex-Virginian4 | September 29, 2009 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Joked: You're dreaming as usual.

Where in Wilder's remarks about guns would indicate he would support the NRA-endorsed McDonnell?

Simply illogical on your part.

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | September 29, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

Jaked clearly cannot imagine. period.

Posted by: drindl | September 29, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Having trouble reasoning with me again, are you?

Posted by: nodebris | September 29, 2009 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Jaked clearly cannot imagine that there is a suitable candidate for whom one would not vote. That you could find someone a fine, decent person and yet disagree with them and not vote for them, given an equally decent choice.

Perhaps this explains his need to demonize candidates he does not support.

Posted by: nodebris | September 29, 2009 11:43 AM | Report abuse

"the implication is that he's voting for McDonnell"

I did read the entire statement, as my post below makes clear. And the implication is, as I already said, entirely in your imagination, nowhere in the text.

Again: civility does not equal support.

Posted by: nodebris | September 29, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

Fine. Have at it, you people.

Posted by: JakeD | September 29, 2009 11:40 AM | Report abuse

margaretmeyers:

Wilder's PLAIN WORDS say that McDonnell is a candidate for whom he could vote -- the IMPLICATION however from the statement as a whole is that Wilder is, in fact, voting for McDonnell -- how much more of a "defense" do you want?!

Posted by: JakeD | September 29, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Definitely weasel. He was hoping to slip that one in there, a standard modus operandi from that source.

Posted by: nodebris | September 29, 2009 11:38 AM | Report abuse

comtrevor:

Agreed.

nodebris:

I'm not the one who is confused -- Gov. Wilder's statement is clear that he disagrees with Deeds on several issues (which he agrees with McDonnell BTW) -- he is indeed being polite by saying that BOTH men are fine and honorable and well suited to be Governor, but the implication is that he's voting for McDonnell. You did read the part in the statement about guns and taxes, right?

Posted by: JakeD | September 29, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

"I'd say that makes Doug Wilder's non-endorsement a lot more influential than if he'd obligatorily endorsed."

Obviously true.

Posted by: nodebris | September 29, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

What if this endorsement actually falls into the new category of "Endorsement Falsely Made Important by the Opposition?" Wilder is not as prominent or important as the GOP (or Wilder) like to think, and he has a reputation for making decisions based on principals he alone sees.

Jake seems to operate in two legal modes: bully (when he is pressing his opinions) and weasel (when he is defending his positions). I think his defense of his post about Wilder saying McDonnell was a candidate he could vote for falls into the category of weasel. How about you?

Posted by: margaretmeyers | September 29, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

The non-endorsements obviously are similar. Nice catch! But Wilder's influence and the terms of his statement are not remotely as powerful as Warner's was. Compare Wilder's statement saying both candidates are suited to Warner's statement that "I could not, as a matter of personal conscience, go to the voters of our great state and urge them to place their trust and confidence in" North.

I also think that few independents are going to find Wilder's distaste with Deed's gun stance to be a compelling argument to vote for the Republican with an equally pro-gun stance. That's an intra-Democrat issue.

More troubling is his difference on the tax issue. But transportation is probably the leading issue in the race and the candidate with the more credible stance will probably see a net gain in support. Most voters know there is no solution to transportation without a tax component.

Posted by: nodebris | September 29, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

A non-endorsement should be considered more influential than an obligatory endorsement. An obligatory endorsement is unremarkable and therefore unimportant. A non-endorsement can point to serious divisions within the party and is now going to start a meme about Deeds and African-Americans, because who doesn't love a horse race story? I'd say that makes Doug Wilder's non-endorsement a lot more influential than if he'd obligatorily endorsed.

Posted by: comtrevor | September 29, 2009 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I know that being polite confuses you, but it's not the same as saying he would vote for McDonnell.

Posted by: nodebris | September 29, 2009 11:24 AM | Report abuse

John Warner never came out and said that he was, in fact, going to vote for Charles Robb either. I see both "non-endorsements" as similar.

Posted by: JakeD | September 29, 2009 11:21 AM | Report abuse

"The requests, made of me, have been to endorse Mr. Deeds, the Democratic Candidate, for Governor. I refrain from doing so and will leave that choice to the voters ... I find that he, AS WELL AS MR. MCDONELL are fine and honorable men and well suited to that task. The question before me is whether I support the Democratic candidate’s position in addressing these issues. I have not thus far in the progress of the campaign, and as aforesaid refrain from so doing." (Emphasis Added)

Posted by: JakeD | September 29, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

Wilder nowhere said or implied that he would vote for McDonnell; that is wishful thinking on your part.

Posted by: nodebris | September 29, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

I agree with btdome, especially since Wilder basically admitted McDonnell is an upstanding candidate whom he would vote for.

Posted by: JakeD | September 29, 2009 11:06 AM | Report abuse

Wilder is influential, but every one also knows he's a bit of a wild card who values his own opinions perhaps even more than they are worth. As a consequence, this doesn't have the same impact as if, say, Warner or Kaine refused to endorse Deeds. Or when John Warner refused to endorse Ollie North, for a truly crushing example of non-endorsement.

Posted by: nodebris | September 29, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Frankly, prominent non-endorsement endorsements should rank at least one notch higher, don't you think?

Historical examples in Virginia alone have shown that non-endorsements by John Warner (of Gilmore, Farris, and North -- where the non-endorse turned into an independent endorse) had a significant correlation with loserdom.

Posted by: btdome | September 29, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Like all-too-many politicians of all stripes, Mr. Wilder has made this about himself. This is unfortunate--it may raise his visibility for a few days, but if Deeds loses in a close election, Wilder may be blamed.

Posted by: justjoeking | September 29, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

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