RICHMOND — At least one Virginia Democrat isn’t daydreaming about filling Sen. Tim Kaine’s shoes if he becomes vice president.
“My name is out, trust me,” former Virginia governor L. Douglas Wilder said Tuesday.
At 85, Wilder still teaches at Virginia Commonwealth University, promotes an autobiography he wrote last year and weighs in on state and national politics. But he’s not looking to start a new chapter in Washington.
Yet Wilder does have an opinion on who should. If Hillary Clinton wins the presidency and her running mate’s Senate seat becomes open, Wilder thinks Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) should fill it with Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.). Wilder called The Washington Post on Tuesday to read a statement to that effect.
“Like many people, particularly in our commonwealth, I am pleased and proud to see Tim Kaine being picked by Hillary Clinton to be her running mate. And I have many times made that known,” he said. “The reality of the times makes it necessary to consider his replacement in the United States Senate should he be elected vice president.
“Though several names have been mentioned, I would consider Bobby Scott to be that person, as deserving as any, and many would say most deserving of all. I include myself in that latter category. This would be good for the commonwealth, good for the Democratic Party, of which Bobby has been most supportive, and great for our nation. Listing those qualifications for those responsible for his appointment would be superfluous here, as they are so well thereto known.”
McAuliffe’s pick would probably serve for about a year before a special election in 2017. He or she would then have to compete for a full six-year term the following year.
It is unclear how much weight McAuliffe will give Wilder’s advice. The former governor has, at times, been a vocal critic of the current one.
McAuliffe’s spokesman, Brian Coy, said talk of filling the seat is premature.
“The governor’s been pretty clear about this process. He’s focused on winning the commonwealth and turning Virginia blue for Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine,” Coy said. “These machinations about Senate seats are only relevant if they win. So that’s what he’s focused on, and he has not given much thought to what would happen after that.”
Scott is frequently mentioned as a contender for the seat, as are the state’s two other Democratic congressmen: Gerald E. Connolly, former chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors; and Don Beyer, a former lieutenant governor and ambassador. Other names in the mix: state Del. Jennifer L. McClellan (D-Richmond); Molly Ward, McAuliffe’s secretary of natural resources; and Levar Stoney, a former McAuliffe cabinet secretary currently running for Richmond mayor.
Wilder and Scott are trailblazers. Wilder was the first African American in the nation to be elected governor, while Scott was the first elected to Congress from Virginia since Reconstruction. Wilder, who endorsed then-Sen. Barack Obama in 2008 but withheld his support four years later, said his preference for Scott is unrelated to race.
“The issue is having the best qualified [senator],” Wilder said. “If he doesn’t fit that role now, whoever will? It’s not a matter of race. . . . The way I look at it, we don’t have these kinds of opportunities come along that often. And I don’t want to see this wasted.”