L. Douglas Wilder may be a Democrat, but he still has some self-respect. Wilder was the first black governor of Virginia, and he has a long memory. He remembers two years ago, when Terry McAuliffe — now the Democratic candidate for governor — demanded the resignation of Gov. Ralph Northam over a blackface scandal. Now, McAuliffe is campaigning with Northam, and he edged out many black candidates in the Democratic primary.
Wilder demanded answers.
“You called on Ralph Northam to resign. Now, he didn’t resign. Why do you now seek his support … for your candidacy? I think it’s a legitimate question to ask,” the former governor said on the Jeff Katz radio show on Friday. “The people of Virginia have not forgotten, they’re not stupid. They’re not fooled, they’re not being hoodwinked.”
Wilder noted that in 2019, McAuliffe demanded the resignations of Northam, Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, and Attorney General Mark Herring. Women had accused Fairfax — who is black — of sexual assault, which he denied. Herring had also confessed to a blackface scandal and had apologized. Now, Herring is running alongside McAuliffe — with McAuliffe’s support — to hold on to his office.
In a Facebook post sharing the radio hit, Wilder explained that “the media ran the story of two women accusing Lt. Gov. Fairfax of sexual assault, denied by Fairfax, but former Governor, McAuliffe, within minutes thereafter, proclaimed the accusations to be credible.” McAuliffe, who served as Virginia’s governor from 2014 to 2018, seemed to care enough about these issues that he denounced his fellow Democrats.
“No reasons have been given to the voters as to Terry’s change of mind” on Northam, Fairfax, or Herring, Wilder wrote.
During the radio hit, the former governor said he would ask McAuliffe, “Have you changed your mind about any of this? And if not, then why not? Now, explain to the people of the commonwealth.”
Wilder also faulted McAuliffe for violating Virginia’s longstanding precedent “by choosing to run again, against persons who had far more experience than he, as he had never held elected office of any kind when he ran.”
Virginia’s first black governor noted that “all of the candidates” McAuliffe opposed were black, except one.
“I don’t think that it’s explainable yet now why Terry McAuliffe couldn’t support at least one of the people who are running for governor — black women!” Wilder exclaimed. “He couldn’t support a single one of those persons, because of what? I don’t know. But it just so happens that all of them [are] Black.”
Other black Virginia Democrats have criticized McAuliffe on race issues. Former state lawmaker Jennifer Carrol Foy, who ran against McAuliffe in the primary, seemingly accused McAuliffe of viewing all black people as “convicted felons.”
In the Facebook post, Wilder returned to a central question: does McAuliffe truly consider blackface unacceptable?
“Is what Northam and Herring did…alright by any standard?” he asked. “Is McAuliffe going to tell the voters of the ‘credible’ evidence that he has relative to Fairfax?”
“Or does this suggest that if you’re a Black person in Virginia, if you’ve got to think about who you are going to vote for then ‘you ain’t Black,’” Wilder concluded, referencing Joe Biden’s infamous remark to Charlamagne tha God during the 2020 election.
McAuliffe seems to think that empty virtue signaling and race-based hyperbole will convince the black community. In November 2017, he claimed that Republican gubernatorial candidate Ed Gillespie had been running “the most racist campaign in Virginia history.” Yes, he technically called Gillespie more racist than bans on interracial marriage, laws enshrining segregation, and even the institution of slavery.
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Virginians should see through Terry McAuliffe, and take a good look at his Republican opponent, Glenn Youngkin.