Archive for July 24th, 2009
Much is being discussed today about Doug Wilder‘s resistance to jump behind Creigh Deeds campaign for Governor. While Wilder has gone to great lengths in interviews with both Politico and the Washington Post to suggest that he remains unconvinced that Deeds deserves his support, the man who may know him the best isn’t buying it.
Paul Goldman, the eccentric former top aide to Governor Wilder said that his former bosses’ dance is no different than the same endorsement act he has put on in previous races for Governor. He said that while Wilder will hint and flirt with the Republican Bob McDonnell, barring an unforeseen circumstance, he will eventually get behind his fellow democrat.
“Wilder has already telegraphed his final move,” Goldman told me today in a lengthy discussion about the cagey politician. “The pundits, professors and professionals in Virginia politics are blinded by their own financial/personal/other self-interests to be able to step back and look at Wilder’s dodging and weaving like a doctor looking his own x-rays: that is to say, you need to look at from the pure 100% science, keep your personal stuff out of it.”
Goldman said that by granting a few well placed interviews with high profile outlets, Wilder is able to drop hints and keep himself in the spotlight. A point proven by the media interest in today’s article by Politico and subsequent follow up by the Post. According to Goldman, Wilder can make people believe that he could potentially shock the world and endorse McDonnell, when in reality, he has no plans to.
“This is not about Bob McDonnell,” said Goldman. “There is simply no way Doug Wilder is going to put himself at odds with the President of the United States. By raising doubt about Deeds, he can show that he isn’t sold on him as a candidate, but will ultimately have to say that he is supporting him in deference to Barack Obama.”
Goldman said there is no way Wilder will allow Obama to come to Richmond in support of Creigh Deeds and miss an opportunity to stand on stage with the President. (Obama is schedule to come to McLean on Deeds’ behalf at the beginning of August. At this point there are no plans for him to come to Richmond.)
The person of course is a difficult spot is Creigh Deeds. The democratic nominee, who already earned a solid enough of endorsement from the President of the United States, that Mr. Obama is coming to Virginia on his behalf, can’t seem to even get Doug Wilder on the phone. Yet Deeds, or those close to him cannot speak ill of the still highly regarded former Governor. Spokesman Jared Leopold told me today that “Creigh is looking forward to sitting down with Governor Wilder. Creigh admires Governor Wilder’s groundbreaking achievements throughout his career,” said Leoplold. “But he recognizes that the Governor is an independent leader and will make up his own mind.
It is a scenario which could make loyal Democrats wonder why their overwhelmingly nominated candidate, needs to bother with the distraction of a man, no longer in office.
Doug Wilder is at it again. The unpredictable former Governor of Virginia and Mayor of Richmond told Politico’s Jonathan Martin that he isn’t sure who he plans to back in the 2009 race for his former position. Wilder also said that he couldn’t be convinced to back Creigh Deeds, despite a personal plea from the White House’s Political Director Patrick Gaspard.
According to the Politico article Wilder met with Gaspard for over two hours in Richmond and despite the meeting he appears to be in no hurry to jump into the fray. He even seemed to question Sen. Deeds’ record in this excerpt from the report:
But Wilder, in disclosing the meeting in an interview with POLITICO, made it clear that he remained far from endorsing Deeds and was in no hurry to weigh in on the closely watched race — all the while outlining with his typical brutal candor what he thought some of the party’s challenges were and what was at stake.
On what the former governor called “bread-and-butter issues,” he said of Deeds: “Tell me what the man has done? I haven’t heard it.”
Asked if he thought Deeds may have a problem this fall with African-American voters, Wilder said flatly: “I do.”
He said black voters have no reason at the moment to vote for the nominee and referred to the decision this week of BET co-founder and Democratic donor Sheila Johnson to support GOP nominee Bob McDonnell.
“Many people feel taken for granted and I think that was built into the decision Mrs. Johnson made,” Wilder said.
The former governor could have also been talking about himself.
It is no surprise that Wilder seems unprepared to get behind his fellow Democrat. In past election cycles he has not been afraid to withhold his support until the moment that would bring him the most notoriety. (He waited until a week before election day to endorse Tim Kaine). Wilder caused quite a stir during the democratic primary when he did not endorse anyone, but seemed to be critical of Terry McAuliffe. He also enjoys to flirting with Republicans and has not been shy about his admiration for Republican nominee Bob McDonnell. Wilder does goes to great lengths in the Politico piece to point out that he has never publicly endorsed a Republican.
It is clear from this report, and my own conversations with McDonnell that he is openly courting the first African-American Governor since reconstruction in an effort to draw in moderate and minority voters. This effort is clearly gaining ground as evidence from the support McDonnell received from Shelia Johnson, a prominent African-American businesswoman and the former chair of Kaine’s campaign for Governor.
Meanwhile, this meeting shows just how important the White House views the race for Governor in Virginia. To send someone of Gaspard’s prominence to personally meet with Wilder shows that they want no surprises and are taking nothing for granted. Something Mr. Wilder seems to be well aware of:
“The case that they made is that in Virginia and New Jersey — the two states that are up for election — losing one is bad, but losing both would be devastating.”