Former Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder accused fellow Democrat Terry McAuliffe of blocking Black candidates in the state’s June primary and criticized the gubernatorial nominee for standing by a pair of political allies who wore blackface.
Wilder, who became the nation’s first elected African American governor in 1989, blasted McAuliffe for campaigning with Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring during a Friday radio interview. In 2019, both Virginia Democrats admitted to wearing blackface while in college, and McAuliffe quickly called for Northam’s resignation.
Just two years later, however, McAuliffe said he was “honored” to have Northam’s endorsement for his gubernatorial campaign and has praised Herring’s leadership on the campaign trail. Wilder said the about-face sends the wrong message to residents.
“The people of Virginia have not forgotten. They are not stupid. They are not fooled, they are not being hoodwinked,” Wilder said. “Terry … you said [Northam] was in blackface. He’s got to go. Have you changed your mind about any of this? And if not, then why not? Now, explain to the people of the commonwealth.”
Wilder is not the first black Virginia Democrat to criticize McAuliffe on race issues. Primary opponent and former state lawmaker Jennifer Carroll Foy seemingly accused McAuliffe of viewing all Black people as “convicted felons” during a June debate. McAuliffe beat out Carroll Foy, as well as two other Black candidates, to win the nomination in June.
Wilder questioned why the former governor did not support a Black Democrat instead of running for a second term, noting that “many of the problems we speak of were occurring when Mr. McAuliffe was governor.”
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