Wilder, L. Douglas (Lawrence Douglas Wilder), 1931–, American political leader, b. Richmond, Va. The grandson of slaves, Wilder studied law at Howard Univ. A Democrat, he was elected a state senator in 1969, becoming the first African American to serve in the Virginia legislature since Reconstruction. Wilder was subsequently Virginia's lieutenant governor (1986–90) and then governor (1990–94), the first elected African-American governor in U.S. history. During his term in office he held the line on taxes, balanced the state budget, and succeeded in passing controversial bond issues and a handgun control measure. The outspoken and often combative Wilder was briefly an unsuccessful aspirant for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1992 and just as briefly an independent candidate for the U.S. Senate from Virginia in 1994. In 2004, however, he made a minor political comeback when he was elected mayor of Richmond, Va.; he served for one term.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.