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Kaine gains Wilder's backing
Wilder backs Lt. Gov Kaine for governor.

 Lt. Gov. Tim Kaine, the Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate, at lectern, and Richmond Mayor L. Douglas Wilder, at a news conference where Wilder endorsed Kaine for governor.
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Date published: 11/3/2005

RICHMOND--Less than a week before the election, Richmond mayor and former Gov. Doug Wilder yesterday endorsed Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tim Kaine.

In a press conference in a Church Hill park overlooking the city, Wilder said he felt Kaine had a better grasp of the bread-and-butter issues that voters really care about, and was less influenced by side-show issues.

"If you look at it and you balance the whole thing out, it comes down to Tim Kaine is the person I think would be best as governor," Wilder said.

Meanwhile, Republican candidate Jerry Kilgore, who was campaigning at gas stations yesterday to talk about the gas tax and his claim that Kaine would increase it, said Wilder's endorsement of a fellow Democrat was unsurprising.

In a release, Kilgore said the only surprise in the endorsement was its late timing: six days before the election. Kilgore's campaign also pointed out previous disagreements between Wilder and Kaine, most notably Wilder's position against the 2004 tax and budget package that raised taxes, which Kaine supported.

Wilder, the nation's first black governor and long an influential but unpredictable force in Virginia politics, met with all three gubernatorial candidates earlier this year. At the time, he wanted their take on issues facing Virginia cities, specifically Richmond.

But after those meetings, Wilder was silent, until yesterday.

Asked why he waited until so late in the campaign to commit to Kaine, Wilder said he was seriously weighing the candidates.

"I wanted to show it wasn't the usual partisan endorsement," Wilder said. "As you know, I haven't endorsed every Democrat on this ticket."

Indeed, earlier this week Wilder sent a letter to state Sen. Creigh Deeds of Bath County, the Democratic candidate for attorney general, to say that he would not be supporting Deeds because of Deeds' support for overturning the state's one-gun-a-month law, which Wilder shepherded through the legislature as governor.

That law also influenced his decision in the gubernatorial race, Wilder said, because Kilgore, too, wants to get rid of that restriction.

"We can't afford to have it changed," Wilder said. "We can't even afford to have it loosened."

But, he said, the question of who can carry a gun where is not the type of issue that really affects most voters.

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