Democrat Terry McAuliffe secured the endorsement on Thursday of the mercurial L. Douglas Wilder, the nation's first elected black governor.
Mr. McAuliffe "has reached out to the women of Virginia and made known his desire to make certain that we don't turn back the clock of advancement and recognition of their cause, which is our cause as well," Mr. Wilder wrote on his blog Thursday. "I applaud McAuliffe's stand on the need for meaningful gun legislation and his willingness to take on the opponents."
"Terry McAuliffe's not having served in any elected position is not a reason to reject his candidacy but to believe that it can be a positive," he wrote. "He has to know that he has to have trained and able minds to assist him in leading and guiding the state."
Mr. McAuliffe said in a statement that he is "honored" to have the endorsement from Mr. Wilder, who has not been shy in criticizing Mr. McAuliffe or his opponent, Republican Attorney General Kenneth T. Cuccinelli II.
"If you go out and say, 'OK, what is the issue other than anti-Cuccinelli?' it's difficult to find the Democrats coming up with an issue," Mr. Wilder said recently on MSNBC.
The former governor also leveled criticism at Mr. Cuccinelli, saying his campaign seems to be running on a platform of obstructing the agenda of national Democrats.
"That's why the public is saying 'pox on both of your houses,'" Mr. Wilder said.
Four years ago, Mr. Wilder declined to make an endorsement in the race between Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican, and Democratic state Sen. R. Creigh Deeds despite receiving phone calls on the matter from President Obama and Sen. Tim Kaine, a Democrat who was then governor of the state.
In 2005, he similarly chose not to endorse either Mr. Deeds or Mr. McDonnell in their race for attorney general.
Mr. Wilder endorsed Mr. Kaine when he was running for governor a week before the 2005 election and waited similarly to endorse former Sen. Jim Webb when he was running in 2006.
In the past, Mr. Wilder has endorsed Democrats but never publicly endorsed a Republican.
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