Monday, January 05, 2009

Doug Wilder: Governor, Mayor ... Blogger

Former Virginia Governor L. Douglas Wilder, who recently also became the former Mayor of Richmond, has become a blogger.

Will Jones reports in the Richmond Times-Dispatch:

If you've blazed trails as a governor and mayor, what do you do for an encore?

If you're L. Douglas Wilder, you start a blog.

Wilder concluded his four-year term as Richmond's mayor yesterday, announcing in an e-mail newsletter that he's started a blog, The site, which will cover local and national topics, uses the masthead created for his mayoral e-mail newsletter, Visions.

"I will continue to live in the city I love, and will maintain an active voice," said Wilder, who was Virginia's first and only African-American governor and Richmond's first elected mayor under its new form of government.

Wilder, who is returning to full-time teaching at Virginia Commonwealth University, said he's confident that the city is headed in the right direction and cited a recent poll indicating that most residents agree.

"The people are always ahead of politicians," Wilder wrote. "Citizens provide the support for the vision and impetus for government -- fighting crime, protecting the river, improving schools, and so on."
I met then-ex-Governor Wilder several times in the 1990s, including a couple of occasions during his short-lived independent candidacy for the U.S. Senate in 1994 when there were serious conversations with his top staff about carrying the Libertarian Party banner in the general election, conversations that came to a halt when Wilder dropped out of the race and endorsed incumbent Senator Chuck Robb, the Democratic candidate.

That was a wild year for Virginia politics, with Oliver North winning the GOP nomination over Jim Miller in a raucous and crowded (15,000 delegates) convention and former state attorney general Marshall Coleman running as an independent with the tacit support of incumbent Republican Senator John Warner. (Coleman received just over 10 percent of the vote, which he transferred to the Reform Party of Virginia to grant that upstart party ballot status; the Reform Party squandered the privilege and never fielded another statewide candidate, so they lost their ballot status after two election cycles.)

After that election, Wilder briefly became a radio talk-show host in Richmond, and I appeared as a guest on his program a few times. He always struck me as friendly, intelligent, and politically savvy. (Those qualities would explain, at least in part, his success as a candidate and officeholder.)

To this day, Wilder is the only Democrat who was the recipient of a campaign contribution from me. (Technically, however, he was running as an independent at the time. Perhaps it would be better to say he's the only non-Republican/non-Libertarian candidate to whom I have contributed.) The occasion was a summer 1994 fundraiser held at the home of Cato Institute president Ed Crane. It was perhaps, the largest-ever gathering of libertarians whose purpose was to support a Democratic political candidate.

Mayor Wilder's blog currently has only one post, but I look forward to seeing more in the future.

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