WASHINGTON (CNN) – Despite a personal phone call from President Obama urging him to do so, former Virginia governor Douglas Wilder said Thursday he will not endorse his fellow Democrat Creigh Deeds in this year's gubernatorial race.
Pointing to Deeds' support for gun rights and his willingness to raise taxes, Wilder wrote in an online column that he plans to keep his powder dry.
"The question before me is whether I support the Democratic candidate's position in addressing these issues," Wilder wrote on the Web site Virginia Tomorrow. "I have not thus far in the progress of the campaign, and as aforesaid refrain from so doing."
Wilder said he doesn't expect Obama - who called him several weeks ago asking him to publicly endorse Deeds - will be thrilled with his decision.
"I'm not thinking the president is going to be pleased," he told CNN, adding that he and the president "have a very good relationship."
“I live in Virginia,” he continued. “I have to deal with the people here. This is bigger than party to me. This has to do with the future of Virginia.”
Virginia political observers know that Wilder, who became the nation's first African-American governor in 1990, has never been afraid to speak his own mind, a point the Deeds campaign has been sure to note when discussing Wilder's thinking.
But his refusal to endorse Deeds because of the tax issue will certainly provide fodder for the campaign of Republican candidate Bob McDonnell, who has vowed to avoid any tax increases if elected.
Throughout the campaign, Wilder has criticized Deeds for not defining himself or his positions on certain issues. At the same time, Wilder has spoken warmly about Deeds' Republican rival, Bob McDonnell, sparking chatter that he might buck his own party and endorse McDonnell. But Wilder said he won't back McDonnell.
Deeds spokesman Jared Leopold said the campaign respects Wilder's decision.
"While Creigh and he may not agree on every issue, they share a fundamental commitment to keeping Virginia the best managed state in the nation, as Governor Wilder first made it in 1992," Leopold said. "As governor, Creigh intends to seek Governor Wilder’s counsel often, and looks forward to working with him.”
2nd politician in 2 days to stand up to Obama's "suggestions" in an election. Messiah meets Reality.
Question Authority! Let's take the DNC-RNC clubhouse apart.
Hey Wilder, I hope you have paid your taxes. I have a feeling that you may get a visit from the IRS. Obama does not have a thick skin and this decision will certainly get under it....
Butt out Osama....you dictator!!
McDonnell is endorsed by the NRA, has a problem with women's rights, and is a clone of Little Bush. That seems to be good enough for Wilder.
That's it.... Wilder has just committed suicide. He failed to obey teh Almighty Obama.
Throughout the campaign, Wilder has criticized Deeds for not defining himself or his positions on certain issues.
There you have it!
Its whats best for the country not whats best for the party ok.
Wow, a politician willing to put the needs of his constituents over the needs of his party. Now I have seen everything.
obama must have too much time on his hand; on top of everything he needs to do, he seems to be really concerned about having democras in state offices. I rather him spend more time regulating wall street.... europe is recovering much better and we should review why we can't do the same. He should realize that he is the president now. His job is to serve the people and forget about putting his fellow democrats in office. I don't like government to get bigger than it needs to. I certainly don't want the president to be a politician.... forget politics or reelecting, just do a good job, people will take care of you!
No biggy. He's the POTUS, not God. He's allowed to make requests like this and they're allowed to say no. It would only be a big deal if Obama gave some indication that he's going to retaliate for Wilder (or Paterson for that matter) not aligning with his requests. He has given ZERO indication that he would and, in fact, has given every indication that it's not his character to do so. This is small news really.
This is becoming a very sad state of affairs...the more Obama meddles in affairs that he needs to stay out of, the more Czars, or other individuals Obama appoints, the more speeches Obama delivers, the more actions Obama takes, the more embarrassed I become, and the more dangerous Obama becomes to America and Americans.
Our Senators and Representatives must take a hard look at the direction Obama is going as we see more and more of his personal agenda and playbook.
Our citizens must wise-up to the Obama agenda before too much more happens to erode our great Constitution and our position in the world.
Obama is truly making a laughing-stock of our great country.
Who paid you off Wilder and don't think we won't find out.
Thank you Wilder, for standing up for what you believe in and not caving to the pressure of the WH. You are a true patriot of this country!
Obama is fast becoming a liability for Democratic canadidates. The voters are becoming more aware of his real agenda and the media can no longer keep it hid from the public.
Always like Wilder, one of the few democrats with integrity. He will be on the Obamas "enemies" list now and will be called names by the libs.
Again nobama sticks his nose in local politics and it did not work out for him. Looks like democrats are starting to back away from nobama if they want to be elected/re-elected. Now that is "change we can believe in".
Good for you Governor, but you'll probably be crucified by the Dems on the road leading into Virginia.
Time for Deeds to ramp up the negative advertising again. That's all he does it seems. Maybe he can run ads blasting Wilder now.
Someone needs to educate Obama about America. He needs to understand states rights and the rights of an individual to support any candidate of their choice. This seems to have been lacking in Obama's past education. Makes you wonder what he was studying. Our maybe he does know about states and individual rights and just doesn't care or thinks he is above it all. Maybe this was part of his education as a Chicago thug politician. Keep an eye on Obama. If his approval rating should drop under 50%, if it looks like the Republicans will make huge gains in 2010, if it starts to look like he could lose in 2012, I expect Obama will get very ugly.
Doh! Two smackdowns now laid on His Highness. First New Yorkers object to his meddling in NY governor's race and now a former VA gov is telling Obama to mind his own business.
So much for the great "leader." I'm a democrast but I think Obama is a disaster.
Wish Obama would call me and offer a bunch of money for me to support health care. Maybe if he offers enough money, maybe I will reconsider. Or not.
Pressure from Obama!! Who does this guy think he is? And we want him to run our lives?
Not everyone is going to publicly endorse a candidate. That's their personal choice.
Wilder's decision not to endorse either candidate does not change my support for moderate Deeds over far-right McDonnell.