Former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder (D.) on Thursday night endorsed Justin Fairfax, the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor in Virginia, but declined to weigh in on the state's gubernatorial and attorney general races.
Wilder, the first African American to be elected governor of Virginia, said that Fairfax "has not been dealt a good hand" during a brief interview after his endorsement at "The People’s Debate," a two-hour program at Virginia Commonwealth University's W.E. Singleton Center for the Performing Arts, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.
"And I think it's very good that he would be seen as someone credible and worthy of endorsement," Wilder added.
Wilder expressed some concerns earlier in the forum about Fairfax, who is also African American, being left off of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam's campaign fliers last month in northern Virginia. He omitted Fairfax from the fliers at the request of the Laborers' International Union of North America because the group had not endorsed him, the Times-Dispatch reported.
The Northam campaign has said that fewer than 15,000 Fairfax-free fliers were printed, out of 3 million pieces of literature in total, and only 1,000 of the fliers were distributed during door-to-door canvassing in northern Virginia.
Wilder also cited a June 2016 incident in which state Democratic Party officials denied Fairfax a speaking slot at the state Democratic convention.
"I'm not faulting anybody," Wilder said after the program. "What I'm saying is that to the extent that it happens, anyone who permitted it to happen should be blamed."
"If I'm the candidate for governor, I'm responsible for whatever takes place in my campaign," he added.
Fairfax, a former federal prosecutor, is running against Republican state Sen. Jill Holtzman Vogel.
Wilder endorsed Terry McAuliffe, Virginia's current Democratic governor, in 2013, but he did not endorse Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds in 2009.