Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic candidate in the state’s current race for governor, is facing a surprise attack from an influential member of his own party.
It’s coming from former Gov. Doug Wilder, a Democrat, and the state’s first Black governor.
“The statewide election this year in Virginia presents questions which require answers from those seeking to lead,” Wilder wrote on Facebook.
In his post, Wilder accused McAuliffe of flip-flopping on the matter of racist scandals that consumed Virginia politics in 2019.
At that time, Wilder said McAuliffe called on Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring to resign after a racist photo was found in Northam’s old medical school yearbook and Herring admitted wearing blackface once during a party in college.
Wilder noted that McAuliffe is now seeking Northam’s support and is asking Virginians to vote for Herring as he runs for another term as attorney general.
“No reasons have been given to the voters as to Terry’s change of mind,” Wilder wrote. “Is what Northam and Herring did all right by any standard?”
Wilder went a step further, criticizing McAuliffe for running for governor, accusing him of pushing aside Black candidates who were seeking the office in the Democratic primary.
McAuliffe won the primary in June, defeating four other candidates.
“All of the candidates he opposed except one, were Black, including two women, whom he felt not qualified to be given the chance that he had been given,” Wilder wrote.
WTOP reached out to McAuliffe’s campaign, which declined to comment on the story.
Wilder has a history of being somewhat of a contrarian Democrat. In 2017, he did not endorse then-candidate Ralph Northam for governor.
And Wilder did not support the Democratic candidate for governor in 2009, when Democrat Creigh Deeds lost to Republican Bob McDonnell.
After supporting Barack Obama for president in 2008, Wilder did not endorse President Obama when he ran for a second term in 2012.
McAuliffe held office from 2014 to 2018. Like all Virginia governors, he was prohibited from seeking a consecutive term.
Wilder served as governor from 1990 through 1994, becoming the first Black governor elected in any state across the country.
Before that, all the way back in 1872, there technically had been a Black governor in Louisiana. Pinckney Benton Stewart Pinchback served as that state’s governor for six weeks, but was not elected by the voters.
Pinchback was lieutenant governor and assumed office due to the incumbent governor being tied up in an impeachment case.