Political rumor mill predicts endorsement
Daily Staff Writer
RICHMOND — Is the nation’s first elected black governor about to endorse a Republican for attorney general?
It depends on who you ask.
Virginia’s political Internet was abuzz with the possibility that former Gov. Doug Wilder, a Democrat who is now the mayor of Richmond, would cross party lines and endorse Del. Bob McDonnell, R-Virginia Beach, over state Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath County.
The story first appeared on the site of the anonymous political blogger and analyst known as Not Larry Sabato — a play on the name of University of Virginia political scientist Larry Sabato.
The site normally sticks to analysis and comment on contested House of Delegates races, but posted a note Tuesday afternoon claiming that Wilder was about to endorse McDonnell, along with Democrat Leslie Byrne for lieutenant governor.
All three gubernatorial candidates, Democratic Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, Republican former Attorney General Jerry Kilgore and independent state Sen. H. Russell Potts Jr., R-Winchester, have sought Wilder’s endorsement.
All met with the mayor in Richmond during the summer, but Wilder has yet to say who, if anyone, he’ll back to succeed Gov. Mark R. Warner, a Democrat, who is not allowed to serve consecutive terms.
If McDonnell gets the nod, it would be the second major counterintuitive endorsement in the race. Deeds picked up an endorsement from the National Rifle Association last week.
The gun-rights group endorsed state Sen. Bill Bolling, R-Mechanicsville, for lieutenant governor on Tuesday.
The group has yet to announce its choice for governor, but Kilgore is set to make an air tour of the state Thursday with NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre.
But neither campaign knew anything about the alleged McDonnell endorsement late Tuesday.
McDonnell campaign manager Janet Polarek laughed when told of the rumor, and said she had serious doubts about the Democratic mayor crossing party lines.
“We haven’t heard anything from Governor Wilder,” she said.
The suggestion was news to the Deeds camp as well.
“We haven’t heard anything,” said Peter Jackson, Deeds’ press secretary.
Reached by phone Tuesday, the anonymous blogger stuck to his guns, and said that the announcement would happen at some point.
“We never said that it was going to happen today,” he said.
The clincher, he said, was the candidates’ positions on Virginia’s purchase limit of one handgun per month, first approved during Wilder’s tenure.
McDonnell voted in favor of the limit while Deeds, then a delegate, did not support it.
Calls to Wilder’s office in Richmond weren’t immediately returned on Tuesday.
Election Day is Nov. 8.