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Updated: Wilder Declines to Endorse Deeds

Anita Kumar

Former Democratic governor L. Douglas Wilder said today that he will not endorse either candidate in the race for Virginia governor despite serious courting from both candidates, Gov. Tim Kaine, chairman of the Democration National Committee, and even President Barack Obama.

The decision can only be considered a slap in the face to Democrat Creigh Deeds and a victory -- of sorts -- for Republican Bob McDonnell. No one really expected Wilder to endorse McDonnell because he never has supported a Republican, but declining to endorse anyone -- and resisting Obama's personal lobbying --- sends enough of a message.

Wilder specifically mentions his opposition to increasing taxes (which Deeds has said he would be open to for road and transit) and his desire to limit the number of handguns.

UPDATE: Deeds' campaign responds. "We respect Governor Wilder's decision,'' said Jared Leopold, a Deeds spokesman. "While Creigh and he may not agree on every issue, they share a fundamental commitment to keeping Virginia the best managed state in the nation, as Governor Wilder first made it in 1992. As governor, Creigh intends to seek Governor Wilder's counsel often, and looks forward to working with him."

Meanwhile, McDonnell spokesman Tucker Martin said: "Bob McDonnell and Governor Wilder have worked together well on issues ranging from combating gangs to promoting programs to help the homeless in Richmond. They share the same commitment to fiscal responsibility and keeping taxes low. They both understand that during these tough economic times public servants have to focus on the real-world situation of working families and small businesses who are struggling to make ends meet. The last thing they need is another tax increase that makes their burdens heavier and dries up job opportunities. Bob holds the Governor in high regard for his historic achievements and public service, and he looks forward to continuing to work closely with him in the years ahead."

In the meantime, read Wilder's full statement below:

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.

This action would allow the truck loads of guns to come back in exchange for drugs from those Northeastern states where gun laws are more stringent. This law was put on the books by Democrats and Republicans because they had seen where those guns go to in our cities and suburban areas where the violence occurs. Partly because of that law, as Mayor, I was able to have the lowest crime rate in our capital city of Richmond in 30 years.

I do not see how endorsing a proposal to have more handguns brought into our cities and suburban areas qualifies as any type of urban renewal plan.

For this situation to exist and for Democrats who lead our party to say nothing is puzzling and inexplicable.

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.

This in no wise is intended to detract from Mr. Deeds in terms of character or commitment to the task of being Governor. 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.

By Anita Kumar  |  September 24, 2009; 12:11 PM ET
Categories:  2009 Governor's Race , Anita Kumar , Creigh Deeds , Election 2009 , Robert F. McDonnell  
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I am sure it would have been front page news had Wilder endorsed Deeds

Posted by: djrhood | September 24, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

"Wilder specifically mentions his opposition to increasing taxes (which Deeds has said he would be open to for road and transit) and his desire to limit the number of handguns."

Wilder is an idiot. Not getting his endorsement is the best thing to happen to the Deeds campaign so far.

Posted by: mdsinc | September 24, 2009 1:50 PM | Report abuse

To djrhood, I say "Ditto!" The POST's shameless bias is why I quit subscribing to the print edition.

I also note that Deeds TV commercial say nothing about his personal qualifications or what he would do as governor, they are all attacks on McDonnell for something he wrote 20 years ago as an academic exercise. Oh, yeah, they do mention that he is endorsed by "classroom teachers" (i.e, educators' unions that care more about higher salaries and better benefits for their members than anything that would really help their students.)

Posted by: dcjimd | September 24, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

say goodnight, Deeds..

Posted by: SMWE357 | September 24, 2009 2:03 PM | Report abuse

Governor Wilder isn't an idiot, I think he's someone that we all can respect here in Virginia. Nobody in this country needs to succomb to pressure from the likes of Obama and DNC Kaine. I voted for Kaine because I thought he'd be like Mark Warner, but now all Kaine does is crawl to the National Democrat party and Deeds pays homage to the disaster that Pelosi is bringing to our country.

Posted by: chrojo01 | September 24, 2009 2:09 PM | Report abuse

"This is not the time in our Commonwealth to talk about any kind of tax increase...
"Now is the time to replenish the Rainy Day fund..."

And how does he think this should be done??
Where's the money going to come from?

Posted by: Gaithersburg1 | September 24, 2009 2:12 PM | Report abuse

I certainly don't respect Wilder. Not after he throws this juvenile hissy-fit because his party's candidate correctly identifies one of his so-called "achievements" ("one gun a month") as a bit of useless bureaucratic puffery that, like all useless bureaucratic puffery, ought to be repealed.

Posted by: smbrinich | September 24, 2009 2:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm a Deeds supporter, and *I* question why this isn't on the front page! Sure makes it look like the WaPo is trying to bury it. You think we don't get news from other sources, too?

Posted by: hitpoints | September 24, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Wilder knows a loser when he sees one!!!!!!!

Posted by: Jimbo77 | September 24, 2009 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Apparently Wilder wants Deeds to lose, which he will. Boy, I wonder what Deeds did to him. Wilder's lack of an endorsement will impact support for Deeds among the African-American Electorate in VA. Wilder KNOWS THIS! Democrats are a F*** trip! WE NEED A MULTI PARTY SYSTEM. f*** THIS ONE THAT WE HAVE!

Posted by: aunkmaa1 | September 24, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

So----- a Democrat ex-governor refuses to endorse the Democrat candidate for future governor.

Doesn't look good for Deeds now does it.

Posted by: bandmom22 | September 24, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

A quick survey of comments in Virginia newspaper websites show that most believe this helps Deeds instead of hurts him. I wasn't aware of it, but looks like a lot of Virginians don't feel kindly towards Wilder - particularly residents of Richmond.

Posted by: hitpoints | September 24, 2009 2:58 PM | Report abuse

Yup, Wilder hasn't met me lately but he knows I favor the Truckload a Month standard ~ just like Deeds, and probably McDonnell.

Recalling that if it weren't for the fact that he grew up in the Souf' Doug Wilder would pret' near be your standard Republican issue politician in the Midwest ~ at least he'd sound like one.

That's why I think he looks out there and sees Deeds as unstable as I see Deeds.

We also agree on the Rainy Day fund ~ and his daughter is cute ~ we liked her in the office.

Posted by: muawiyah | September 24, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

First, Wilder has demonstrated over the last number of years that he's nothing short of a egomaniac. Second, are folks who do listen to what Wilder has to say going to be inclined to vote for McDonnell--Mr. Whitebread from CBN/Regent University who's record is in line with the John Birch society? I don't think so. Wilder's endorsements become less and less important with each passing year.

Bottom line: if you want a middle of the roader on most issues choose Deeds. If you want a hard-right candidate choose McDonnell.

Posted by: jmdavis1 | September 24, 2009 3:06 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, let's not fix the transportation problems in the state's economic powerhouse that is Northern Virginia. Instead we'll call in Penn and Teller and Bob McDonnell who will perform some magic tricks to create necessary funds.

Posted by: jaysit | September 24, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

hitpoints comments are right on target - Many Virginians, and Richmonders in particular (and surprisingly enough - Afr-Amer Richmonders) think Doug Wilder is a nut. There are few who take his positions on issues as anything more than marketing ploys for his own self-interests. Deeds is probably better off without this endorsement......Don't count him out yet.

Posted by: dipazzo | September 24, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

Since leaving the Govonorship Wilder has been for no one but Wilder. He still thinks the party owes him something, but he see's no reason to help the party. This is purely a move to insulate himself for the next time he runs for office.

Posted by: jckdoors | September 24, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

To all the partisans alleging bias because this isn't on the WP's front page: How about waiting to see whether such a report is there tomorrow before asserting that the Post is trying to bury it? Or perhaps you think the Post should publish a special afternoon edition for breaking news?

Give me a break!

As for the actual news, no big surprise here: If memory serves, Wilder has only endorsed one Democrat running for governor since he left office. Should Deeds win (and don't count him out yet), it will be quite amusing to see Wilder try to weasel his way into the victor's good graces...

Posted by: DCSteve1 | September 24, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

If this isn't a front page, above the fold headline tomorrow the Washington Post has zero credibility. Absolutely zero.

Posted by: laxmatt | September 24, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

We all know that Wilder marches to his own quirky drum. So, Deeds is probably no worse off for NOT having received his endorsement. Frankly, no one, in either party, should be surprised, nor should they have been, had Wilder even endorsed McDonnell

Posted by: whh123 | September 24, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

This story should be at the top of the Post. I see how they love to bury what goes against the Liberal views of the post.

Posted by: AlbyVA | September 24, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

This is big news among the supporters of the tottering McDonnell campaign. Many Deeds voters in NoVa are asking, "Who's Douglas Wilder?"

Posted by: koolkat_1960 | September 24, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

I agree it could take time to write up a good analysis of this news. But other sites have a "breaking news" area on the front page mentioning this, or it's a link on their front page. I read about it on 5 other sites and kept checking back on WaPo, finally had to use their search engine. These days, it doesn't have to be print-ready to be web-ready. No wonder old media is suffering a decline.

Considering all the flak the WaPo got for their frequent articles about the thesis, I'd think it would be in the WaPo's best interests not to appear partisan. And I'm a Deeds supporter!

Posted by: hitpoints | September 24, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

This isn't front page worthy. Had Wilder endorsed Mcdonnell, then yes. This 'I'm not endorsing anyone' is boring.

Posted by: Corn_Laden | September 24, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Wilder is just being Wilder - in other words, a prick.

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | September 24, 2009 3:47 PM | Report abuse


I have to laugh every time I read a comment by one of you conservative morons that the Post is biased.

So what are you going to do, subscribe to the print edition of the Washington Times? They're not biased?

Give me a break.

Posted by: adrienne_najjar | September 24, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

For gawd sakes when is the election in VA? I'm sick of hearing about this governors race!

Posted by: bobby20 | September 24, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

As a life long Democrat who lived in Virginia during Wilder's term as Governor I couldn't stand him. Clearly the Virginia voters didn't like him either because after his term the GOP really swept into power with the disasterous terms of Allen and Gilmore. His term as Governor was known for cronyism and ineptitude. Wilder was an a$$ then and clearly he remains one now.

Posted by: dre7861 | September 24, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

perhaps dougie is po'd for his bro getting the nomination for potus. he was a descent gov ,and as most politicians did some asinine things to keep his face in the media.dems do not go with ANYONE that does not support tax increases

Posted by: pofinpa | September 24, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

Good point made by Gov. Wilder in his statement: Deeds proposed taxes are particularly bad because they are regressive, hurting the poor more (as do all sales taxes, since they are not based on income).
I'm looking forward to seeing McDonnell as Governor, and Ken Cuccinelli as Attorney General. These gentlemen have solid principles and understand governance.

Posted by: Johannes1 | September 24, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Are you serious? McDonnell's transportation "plan" relies on:
Tolling drivers coming into VA from NC
Praying that there's oil off the VA coastline and somehow believing that the Feds will let the state keep a good portion of it
Raiding the general fund which means less $$ for education and other important activities.

Please explain how that is solid governing? It's more of the same hucksterism that the far right wing of the GOP in the House of Delegates has been advocating for 10 years--we can have it all and we won't have to raise taxes. It's a simply a lie in order to get elected. McDonnell has absolutely no interest in solving the state's transportation woes--his "plan" proves it.

Posted by: jmdavis1 | September 24, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

I look forward to voting for Virginia's next Governor, Mr. McDonnell.

Posted by: furtdw | September 24, 2009 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Wilder is right about the guns, of course. What he doesn't seem to appreciate however is that Deeds is running in a state infected with certified gun nuts whose local klan-lite meetings have informed them Obama is itching to take away (no sign of the big roundup yet, but I'm sure they are certain still it is coming). There is a national bullet shortage as the loonies all run out and stock up their apocolytpic arsenals. For Deeds to speak sense in Virginia on this issue would be political suicide.

Which of course leads to the question of whether Virginia actually deserves a decent, modern governor. They may well get stuck with Gov. Taliban, who has expressed the requisite 15th century "values" concerning women and people who love wrong. They will get what they deserve if they do that, as McDonnell has already expressed that it is his business what every Virginian does in their bedrooms.

Republicans hate liberty so very very much. If they get the Taliban Guy, maybe they will be happy. And then modern Virginia (NoVA) can secede from the backwater rest and watch Jesusland finish eating itself.

Posted by: B2O2 | September 24, 2009 5:15 PM | Report abuse

It is a sign of desperation when the Republican Neanderthal who dreams of a day when married couples can't access birth control courts a former DEMOCRAT governor. Send McDonnell back to the middle ages where he came from. Virginians don't need Wilder telling them what is obvious for the love of Pete.

Posted by: medogsbstfrnd | September 24, 2009 5:16 PM | Report abuse

the compost is trying to bury this huge story. this is massive. Deeds couldn't win over Sheila Johnson, or Doug Wilder?! Wow. This would be like Bob McDonnell not getting John Warner's endorsement..

Posted by: SMWE357 | September 24, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

hitpoints, djrhood, dcjimd, DCSteve1, laxmatt, AlbyVA, et al -- those of us working on the race for The Post certainly recognize the importance of this story and lobbied from the outset to get it heavy play, but apparently there was some confusion on our homepage team when this broke. It did make it up there eventually. As for print play, not currently looking like they're putting it on A1, but we're not the only ones with a voice in the decision, and there's a lot of news today.

Christopher Dean Hopkins
Deputy Editor, Local Politics and Government

Posted by: Christopher Dean Hopkins | September 24, 2009 5:39 PM | Report abuse

People like Wilder are one example of what is wrong with the nation as a whole. He obviously has some selfish interest in this matter. It really doesn't matter what that interest is. What matters is that he, like so many others, doesn't give a damn how his actions affect others. Its all about him.

Whether you like President Obama or not, he cares about the people and is trying to look out for the best interests of the people. He is human and bound to err, but he is trying to make this nation a better place for all. He apparently asked Wilder for his support for Deeds and a show of unity of the party to keep us moving forward. This election does reflect (whether it rightfully should or not) on the present Presidential Administration and the direcion the nation is trying to go, which is away from the self serving, greedy interests of the few. I think we all are seeing the man's (Wilder's) true character and it doesn't appear to be someone who puts the greater interests of the state and the nation before his own.

Thanks but no thanks Doug. Although you were the first politician I ever voted for when I turned 18, you sure turned out to be a big dissapointment. Its a shame he wasn't willing to help the state and in no small part the nation, but I doubt in the long run his non-endorsement will really matter much. I believe the positive leadership of Obama on the nation as a whole, and hopefully the rational thinking of most Virginias on the alternative retro Bush-like policies of McDonnell and the Virginia Republican Party will be enough for Deeds to prevail and keep Virginia moving forward.

Posted by: Stuckintraffic1 | September 24, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

Doug Wilder is just a cranky old curmudgeon who relishes the attention lavished on him by the press whenever there is another election in Virginia. Big deal.

Front page should tell the story of what the current state government is doing to education. The 3rd year in a row of 15% cuts in higher education is nothing but a backdoor tax on college students.

For all you free-lunchers out there, wake up and realize that sitting in your cars for an extra 45 minutes each day is also a tax.

I am so tired of these lazy-arsed Republican Delegates who want to pass all the problems to our children and not confront them now. Generation and generation of Americans fought and sacrificed for their country. In Virginia, the people aren't even willing to take their hands off their remote controls and out of the Cheetos bag long enough to make this a better society. What a shameful lot of apathetic nobodies.

Posted by: thuff7 | September 24, 2009 6:17 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else think the Deeds and his Dem advisors are running a terrible campaign? My gf isn't very "in" to politics, so I asked her yesterday if she knew who Creigh Deeds was. She didn't know. She knows who Bob McDonnell is because of the stuff he has sent to our house and the robo calls we have started to get.

McDonnell is a far right, Christian Taliban extremist. All Deeds needs to do is get his name out there, show people he isn't crazy like Bob is, and he wins. Why is it almost October and people in Northern VA can't tell me who is running for governor?

I am not excited about Deeds in any way, but the thought of McDonnell in there and his Regent "University" degree is scary. I mean the DNC chairman is the current governor of this state. The Dems couldn't get the campaign manager "A" team in here? It seems like its being run by the same people who thought Judy Feder was a good challenger to Frank Wolf.

Posted by: BurtReynolds | September 24, 2009 6:39 PM | Report abuse

Are you serious? McDonnell's transportation "plan" relies on:
Tolling drivers coming into VA from NC
Praying that there's oil off the VA coastline and somehow believing that the Feds will let the state keep a good portion of it
Raiding the general fund which means less $$ for education and other important activities.
Whew, glad to see that. I thought I was the only one who thought McDonnell's plan might as well not be one. The VDOT sugar high he proposes by eliminating a dedicated source of education funding to get $500m for roads (we need much more than this) is typical short-sighted GOP. Face it. We need revenue for fixing transportation. It needs to keep coming every year. We need money every year to maintain what we already built. McDonnell's plan taxes education to build a few interchanges we can't afford to repave in 10 years. This is the great plan?

Posted by: BurtReynolds | September 24, 2009 6:45 PM | Report abuse

oh dougie, we haven't forgotten you!

we know you like the sound of your own voice more than anything.

but listen: we don't give a rat's patootie
what you think, because we've been down this road before with you. you are fast becoming virginia's equivalent of william donald schaeffer. your "endorsement" would be of no help to any current democrat.
the only endorsements that count here in virgina are sen warners, sen webb's, and
gov. kaine's.

Posted by: surlydoc | September 24, 2009 6:48 PM | Report abuse

Who cares if Wlder, the egotist, does not endorse Deeds. Wilder is a spent up politician who lost everything in his egocentric childish tantrums he exhibited as the first elected mayor of Richmond.Weh he was a governor he governed like a redneck republican. May be he is getting even with Obama and Kaine because he was not appointed as an ambassador for a banana republic somewhere. Good decision Barak you should avoid Wilder like a contagiou disease because he is toxic like acid. I guess he can always revive his former carrier as a slum lord of Richmond ghettos. Wilder is the most over rated black pol, besides what has he done for Virginia in all his political career other than heart burn to many of its people.

Posted by: ere591 | September 24, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Who cares if Wilder, the egotist, does not endorse Deeds. Wilder is a spent up politician who lost everything in his egocentric childish tantrums he exhibited as the first elected mayor of Richmond. Wen he was a governor he governed like a redneck republican. May be he is getting even with Obama and Kaine because he was not appointed as an ambassador to a banana republic somewhere. Good decision Barak you should avoid Wilder like a contagious disease because he is toxic like acid. I guess he can always revive his former carrier as a slum lord of Richmond ghettos. Wilder is the most over rated black pol, besides what has he done for Virginia in all his political career other than heart burn to many of its people.

Posted by: ere591 | September 24, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

All this kowtowing to get an endorsement is getting out of hand. Relevance should be on the candidates and the voters, not has-beens nor news outlets. As if it matters what Wilder, Obama, or a few editors at WaPo think. It's the voters, stupid. Wilder is only 1 vote and Obama doesn't even have a vote.

Posted by: shhhhh | September 24, 2009 7:11 PM | Report abuse

How can a candidate who is endorsed by Obama expect to win without being endorsed by Wilder?

Deeds lost today.

Posted by: blasmaic | September 24, 2009 7:22 PM | Report abuse


Posted by: KSVA | September 24, 2009 7:32 PM | Report abuse

"How can a candidate who is endorsed by Obama expect to win without being endorsed by Wilder?"

By not promising to tear apart education, the environment, health care and security to build roads that have been blocked year after year by the same Republican delegates that will block transportation improvements this year, next year and the year after.

Does anyone besides me wonder how much we would have saved if we built the transportation infrastructure 10 years ago when land, labor and materials cost a fraction of what they cost now? Just think how much more productive we would be if we didn't spend so many hours stuck in traffic?

How many more problems will the Virginia Republicans pass on to the next generation? You want to find out, vote McDonnell. You want to solve problems vote for Deeds and dump Howell.

Posted by: thuff7 | September 24, 2009 7:55 PM | Report abuse

hahahahahhahahahahahahahahahhahaha !!!!!

hahahahahhahahahahahahahahahhahaha !!!!!

Posted by: ItsOver1 | September 24, 2009 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Kudos to Wilder for recognizing that Creigh Deeds, a man who has big labor in his pocket (last I knew unions don't create jobs) who has no plan for easing traffic congestion, and who isn't afraid to raise taxes on hard working families, ISN'T good for Virginia.

Thumbs down to the Post for burying the news in the Metro section.

Posted by: amd120 | September 25, 2009 11:57 AM | Report abuse

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