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Democrat Wilder Withholds Endorsement in Va. Governor's Race

The gun and tax views of Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, left, led ex-governor and fellow Democrat L. Douglas Wilder to withhold his backing.
The gun and tax views of Sen. R. Creigh Deeds, left, led ex-governor and fellow Democrat L. Douglas Wilder to withhold his backing. (Jacquelyn Martin - AP)
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In his statement, Wilder said his overriding concern this year is the economy and he tasked the next governor with the job of putting "our fiscal house in order." He said he opposed any increase in taxes that would disproportionately affect poor families. He criticized Deeds for supporting the repeal of the handgun law, which "would allow the truck loads of guns to come back in exchange for drugs from those Northeastern states where gun laws are more stringent."

Wilder remains a powerful and influential force in some quarters. Terron Sims II, president of the Northern Virginia Black Democrats, a grass-roots group that grew out of Obama's candidacy last year, said Obama was only able to carry Virginia last year because of Wilder's barrier-breaking career.

"We love Doug," said Sims, an Arlington resident who supports Deeds. "He's the first black elected governor in the United States of America. That's going to carry a lot of weight."

McDonnell also courted Wilder, meeting with him just this week. The Republican nominee has reached out to black voters as well, particularly small-business owners.

Dave Rexrode, deputy campaign manager for McDonnell, said the efforts are crucial in light of the narrow vote count by which McDonnell beat Deeds four years ago in the race for attorney general.

"Having won the last election by just over 300 votes, he doesn't take anybody, any group for granted," Rexrode said. McDonnell will spend Friday in Virginia Beach and Norfolk with Johnson, where their agenda will include an African American business leaders roundtable at Virginia Wesleyan College.

Polling analyst Jennifer Agiesta contributed to this report.


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