- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder said he will announce his decision on a gubernatorial endorsement within the next two days and that Gov. Tim Kaine has personally requested that he back fellow Democrat R. Creigh Deeds.

A call from Mr. Kaine, who heads the Democratic National Committee, came after the former governor met with the Democratic hopeful on Monday, Mr. Wilder told The Washington Times.

Mr. Wilder, a Democrat, said he would break with tradition and make an announcement, which may not be an endorsement of either candidate, on Wednesday or Thursday.

After a substantive discussion between the two men, Mr. Deeds asked Mr. Wilder for his support. His announcement will be made via a statement e-mailed to the news media. The former governor refused to elaborate on what the two talked about or what he thought of Mr. Deeds.

“I think we have a clearer understanding of where each other stands,” Mr. Wilder said about their meeting.

Mr. Deeds’ campaign spokesman, Jared Leopold, released a short statement after the two men met; but campaign staffers declined to elaborate on the meeting.

“Creigh enjoyed his meeting with the governor,” Mr. Leopold said. “We have always said that we admire his historic achievements and would like his support.”

Just a few weeks ago President Obama called Mr. Wilder, the first black elected governor, with the request that Mr. Wilder back Mr. Deeds. Members of the Obama administration have repeatedly contacted Mr. Wilder to discuss the election in Virginia.

Usually, Mr. Wilder makes his endorsement announcement closer to Election Day because he said he wants it to matter; but, with the stakes so high for the state this year in terms of the economy, he wanted to say something sooner.

Both campaigns have been hesitant to discuss Mr. Wilder’s endorsement, which is highly prized in Virginia politics and isn’t necessarily a sure thing for Democrats.

When asked about a possible endorsement from Mr. Wilder, Republican Robert F. McDonnell’s communications director, J. Tucker Martin, said: “Doug Wilder and Bob McDonnell speak regularly; they work together often and extremely well and Bob holds the governor in the highest regard.”

Mr. McDonnell is far closer to Mr. Wilder than is Mr. Deeds. The two men worked closely when Mr. McDonnell was attorney general and Mr. Wilder was mayor of Richmond. Since Mr. Wilder finished his term as mayor in 2008, the two have continued to talk frequently and meet.

Mr. Wilder said he has never publicly endorsed a Republican, but he noted that when he has opted not to endorse a Democrat he often gives a reason for the slight.

In the 2005 race for attorney general, Mr. Wilder refused to endorse Mr. Deeds, who went on to lose the race to Mr. McDonnell. Mr. Wilder cited Mr. Deeds’ refusal as a delegate to support Mr. Wilder’s one-gun-a-month initiative, which prohibited people from monthly multiple gun purchases.

Up until Monday’s meeting, Mr. Wilder said that the two had not had time to talk but did have a long history together. Mr. Deeds campaigned for Mr. Wilder years ago in Mr. Deeds’ native Bath County.

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