Cross-posted to Virginia Virtucon
By now, dear reader, you’ve all-but-certainly heard that former Governor and Mayor Doug Wilder has come to a decision about whom he will endorse to succeed him (five times removed). We may – or may not – hear the verdict tomorrow (NBC-12, Richmond).
Yes, I know, Wilder has never endorsed a Republican for statewide office, and given that, a Deeds nod would not have as much punch as Wilder would like, especially as the entire Republican ticket is about to get the blessing of the Fraternal Order of Police (Riley at VV).
Still, for me personally, this is always painful. I first came to Virginia in 1990, escaping a state where Jim Florio had just proposed – and his legislative allies imposed – what was at the time the largest state tax increase in American history. I get here and find the state’s liberal elite up in arms because the governor they elected refused to raise taxes and insisted on reducing government spending to keep the state solvent. The Democrats hated him for it, and never forgave him. Tax-hiking RINOs chortled at him.
That governor was Doug Wilder. He has been my favorite Democrat ever since; in fact, I have always hoped, however forlornly, that Wilder would eventually see the light, bolt the big-government Democrats, and join the Republican Party.
Of course, that never happened, but for a while, Wilder’s estrangement from the DPVA was real and deep. He refused to endorse Don Beyer in 1997. His apparent return to the fold in 2001 for Mark Warner went into a deep freeze with Warner’s tax hikes (Wilder remains the only Virginia Democrat since the 1960s to serve as Governor without asking for a tax increase).
Even now, Wilder holds out a little hope for me with this (NBC-12 again):
Wilder would not tip his hand during our conversation today, but perhaps provided some insight when I asked him if it was realistic to propose a transportation plan that does not include raising taxes. The former Governor, who dealt with his own share of fiscal turmoil during his time in office, laughed and said, “that will be part of what I talk about when I share my endorsement.”
For Wilder, keeping taxes low and government efficient has always been his hallmark (see above), if that is more important to him than his ties to the president, his loyalty to his party, the clear safety of avoiding massive alienation, he might just surprise us all.
Still, I am preparing myself for having a broken heart tomorrow – or Friday . . .