GM – FBF – In the first rule of politics, you know, Harry Truman, the buck stops here. Take responsibility. What I’ve learned over the years is that people will give people in politics a lot of rope if they just take responsibility.
Remember – “My experience politically has always been that one-word definition of politics: money. Keep your eye on the buck. And that tells you where the American people are going to be.” – Douglas Wilder (Governor -VA – D)
Today in our History – Wilder was elected governor on November 8, 1989, defeating Republican Marshall Coleman by a spread of less than half a percent. The narrow victory margin prompted a recount, which reaffirmed Wilder’s election. He was sworn in on January 14, 1990 by former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Lewis F. Powell, Jr.. In recognition of his landmark achievement as the first elected African-American governor, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People awarded Wilder the Spingarn Medal for 1990.
Wilder had a comfortable lead in the last polls before the election. The unexpected closeness of the election may have been due to the Republicans’ strong get out the vote efforts. Wilder had been candid about his pro-choice position in relation to abortion. Some observers believed the close election was caused by the Bradley effect, and suggested that white voters were reluctant to tell pollsters that they did not intend to vote for Wilder.
During his tenure as governor, Wilder worked on crime and gun control initiatives. He also worked to fund Virginia’s transportation initiatives, effectively lobbying Congress to reallocate highway money to the states with the greatest needs. Much residential and office development had taken place in Northern Virginia without its receiving sufficient federal money for infrastructure improvements to keep up. He also succeeded in passing state bond issues to support improving transportation. In May 1990 Wilder ordered state agencies and universities to divest themselves of any investments in South Africa because of its policy of apartheid, making Virginia the first Southern state to take such action.
During his term, Wilder carried out Virginia’s law on capital punishment, although he had stated his personal opposition to the death penalty. There were 14 executions by the electric chair, including the controversial case of Roger Keith Coleman. In January 1994 Wilder commuted the sentence of Earl Washington, Jr, an intellectually disabled man, to life in prison based on testing of DNA evidence that raised questions about his guilt. Virginia law has strict time limits on when such new evidence can be introduced post-conviction. But in 2000, under a new governor, an STR-based DNA test led to the exclusion of Washington as the perpetrator of the murder for which he had been sentenced. He was fully exonerated by Governor Jim Gilmore for the capital murder and he was released from prison.
During his term, Wilder had strained relations with Charles Robb, US Senator and former Governor. Many papers described this as a “feud.”
Wilder left office in 1994 because of Virginia’s prohibition of successive gubernatorial terms. The next governor elected was Republican George Allen.arch more about this great American and teach your babies. Make it a Champion day!