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Is McDonnell Looking to Wilder for Support?

Anita Kumar

Is Republican gubernatorial nominee Robert F. McDonnell looking for an endorsement from former Democratic governor L. Douglas Wilder?

McDonnell and Wilder, who have had a good working relationship for years, are having lunch today, according to sources close to McDonnell.

All three Democratic candidates -- R. Creigh Deeds, Terry McAuliffe and Brian Moran -- have already met with Wilder, the nation's first elected black governor, to seek an endorsement and advice on how to run a successful statewide campaign.

Wilder, an outspoken, sometimes combative Democrat, has not been shy about breaking ranks with his party in the past.

In 1997, he refused to endorse Democrat Don Beyer in the governor's race, which helped Republican James S. Gilmore. In the 2005, Wilder refused to back Deeds in the attorney general's race because of his position on guns. Some Democrats say his lack of support may have been enough to change the outcome of a race decided by a few hundred votes.

In 2006, he waited to endorse Democrat James Webb in his race against Republican George Allen until a week before Election Day.

Would Wilder actually endorse a Republican this year?

Wilder stressed in a recent interview that he is waiting until he hears where the candidates stand on issues, including the economy, education and healthcare, before deciding who to support. He will not say when, or even if, he will endorse.

Tucker Martin, a McDonnell spokesman, confirmed the meeting, but downplayed it. "It's a friendly lunch between two men who have worked together on a number of important issues,'' he said.

Others who are attending are Richard Cullen, former state attorney and U.S. attorney who is chairman of McGuireWoods, and Alex McMurtrie, a former Democratic member of the House of Delegates.

By Anita Kumar  |  May 4, 2009; 12:09 PM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Brian J. Moran , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell , Terry McAuliffe  
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