Former Virginia Gov. Douglas Wilder is condemning gubernatorial nominee and fellow Democrat Terry McAuliffe for flip-flopping over whether state party leaders should resign after it was revealed they previously wore blackface. Wilder served as governor of the commonwealth from 1990-1994, becoming the country’s first duly-elected black governor.
“You called on Ralph Northam to resign. Now he didn’t resign,” Wilder said during a local radio interview. “Why do you now seek his support and sought his support for your candidacy? I think it’s a legitimate question to ask.”
The former governor later went on to blast McAuliffe for thinking that Virginians are “stupid” enough to forget his flip-flop on the issue, while stating that the upcoming gubernatorial election would be decided by “who best resonates with the people of Virginia.”
“Two years ago, Terry McAuliffe called for all three persons occupying the offices of Governor, Lt. Governor, and Atty. General to resign,” Wilder later wrote in a Facebook post. “Today, McAuliffe is asking people to vote for that A.G. who served as his attorney general, and seeks the continuing support of Northam.”
In 2019, McAuliffe was among a string of high-profile Democrats that called on Gov. Ralph Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring to resign following revelation Herring wore blackface in his youth and that Northam appeared in a racist photo showing one man in blackface and one man in a KKK costume. Northam has never confirmed which man he is in the photo.
“The situation that he has put himself and the Commonwealth of Virginia in is untenable,” McAuliffe said in a February 2019 tweet. “It’s time for Ralph to step down, and for the Commonwealth to move forward.”
The situation that he has put himself and the Commonwealth of Virginia in is untenable. It's time for Ralph to step down, and for the Commonwealth to move forward.
— Terry McAuliffe (@TerryMcAuliffe) February 2, 2019
Moreover, McAuliffe also called on Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax to resign following a series of sexual assault allegations.
The allegations against Justin Fairfax are serious and credible. It is clear to me that he can no longer effectively serve the people of Virginia as Lieutenant Governor. I call for his immediate resignation.
— Terry McAuliffe (@TerryMcAuliffe) February 8, 2019
Since launching his reelection bid for the state’s governorship in December 2020, however, McAuliffe has seemingly reversed course on the issue and has openly embraced Northam’s endorsement.
“Governor Northam has been leading Virginia through this crisis so he knows exactly what it’s going to take to rebuild from the pandemic: bold plans and tested leadership,” he said. “I am honored to have his support.”
Governor Northam has been leading Virginia through this crisis so he knows exactly what it's going to take to rebuild from the pandemic: bold plans and tested leadership.
I am honored to have his support. https://t.co/q7ktlLqFpB
— Terry McAuliffe (@TerryMcAuliffe) April 8, 2021
Virginia’s Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin has since lambasted McAuliffe’s actions, with a campaign spokeswoman telling The Federalist how the situation is another example of how the former governor “says one thing and then does another.”
“He called on Northam to resign for his KKK-Blackface photo, then turned around and said he’s honored to have his endorsement and even campaigned with him,” said Youngkin press secretary Macaulay Porter. “Virginians deserve an honest governor who doesn’t talk out of both sides of their mouth like Terry McAuliffe.”