The former Virginia governor’s statement on why he won’t endorse either candidate for governor reads more like a paean to the wonderful Wilder years. That’s to be expected, But there are a few barbs here worth noting, none of which are welcome news to the Creigh Deeds campaign…
On taxes, which Deeds has promised to raise and McDonnell has told us to read his lips:
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.
But it does seem that its the gun issue, and Wilder’s pet project, Virginia’s one-gun-a-month law (which McDonnell voted for and Deeds against) that seems to have sealed it. Wilder likes the law. It remains his signature issue. That Deeds was never on his side, while McDonnell was (when both men were in the General Assembly) shows Wilder is a master at nursing grudges.
And then there is this:
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.
This is interesting not in what it says about Creigh Deeds or Bob McDonnell, but what it has to say about Tim Kaine and President Obama — both of whom made highly-publicized, personal pitches to Wilder on Deeds’ behalf.
Wilder only bets on sure things. That’s he’s walked away from the track entirely this time may not bode for the DNC chair (and sometimes Virginia Governor) or the resident at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
And as for Bob McDonnell…he was likely never going to get the Wilder endorsement. Wilder has never strayed from his Democratic roots and endorsed a Republican. But he has remained neutral before. The last time? The 1997 gubernatorial race between Democratic Lt Gov. Don Beyer and Republican Attorney General Jim Gilmore.
Gilmore scored a huge victory that year and Republicans swept all three of the statewide offices. How much, if any, of the outcome was due to Wilder’s whims is very uncertain. But his neutrality certainly didn’t help the Democratic cause then, and won’t do so now.