-- Richmond Mayor L. Douglas Wilder plans to announce his support for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Timothy M. Kaine on Wednesday, according to Paul Goldman, the mayor's longtime adviser.
Goldman said that Wilder "will endorse Tim Kaine for governor" at a morning news conference in Richmond.
Wilder, a Democrat, became the nation's first elected black governor in 1989, and he remains a popular figure in many parts of Virginia, particularly among African Americans. He won a landslide victory last year in the mayoral race.
Delacey Skinner, Kaine's press secretary, would not confirm Goldman's statement. "We are very excited about the event we have planned for [Wednesday] morning," she said. The campaign described the event as the announcement of a "major endorsement."
Wilder could not be reached by telephone for comment last night.
Wilder has guarded his endorsements closely, waiting until the last days of a campaign or withholding endorsements altogether. In the 2000 Senate race, he endorsed then-Sen. Charles S. Robb (D) a week before the election. In 1997, he declined to endorse Democrat Donald S. Beyer Jr. for governor.
On Monday, Wilder announced that he will not back the candidacy of the Democratic candidate for state attorney general, R. Creigh Deeds, because of the nominee's positions on gun issues, including what the mayor called Deeds's refusal to support Virginia's one-handgun-a-month law.
"You are advocating positions that would . . . wipe out the state's long-standing law, supported by our police, requiring a concealed weapon permit and instead . . . replace it with an irresponsible new law," Wilder said in a letter to Deeds.
In 2004, Wilder stood with Jerry W. Kilgore, now the Republican candidate for governor, in opposing the tax package pushed through by Gov. Mark R. Warner (D). Kilgore supported the 10-point urban platform that Wilder unveiled during the summer.
Kaine has been an avid supporter of the one-gun-a-month law passed with the strong backing of then-governor Wilder. Kilgore has said the statute needs to be reexamined. Kaine is a former mayor of Richmond and shares some of Wilder's views on the needs of the city.
Tim Murtaugh, Kilgore's press secretary, cast Wilder's support in terms of party loyalty. "This is a Democrat doing his partisan duty, endorsing his fellow Democrat," he said.
Murtaugh cited letters that Wilder has written to the Richmond Times-Dispatch criticizing some of Kaine's moves as mayor. "The only real news is that he took so long to do it," he said.