Democrats at the top of Virginian politics may soon see their leadership change hands as the governor, the lieutenant governor, and the attorney general are all facing controversy.
The political crisis started with Governor Ralph Northam who first openly endorsed a bill which would allow a child to be aborted after it is delivered. The fourth-trimester abortion, otherwise known as infanticide or plain murder, immediately caused people to criticize the governor.
While attention was on him, a photo from his yearbook surfaced showing him in either blackface or a KKK outfit. The governor initially apologized before walking back the apology and claimed it was not him in the photo.
Northam is still facing pressure to resign amid the ensuing controversy.
As a result of the governor potentially having to resign, focus shifted to Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax. The 39-year-old politician all but said Northam should resign, responding to the yearbook photo, but is wrapped up in controversy of his own.
The lieutenant governor has been accused of sexual assault.
His accuser released a statement alleging that he had forced himself on her sexually in a hotel room during the 2004 Democratic National Convention.
The allegation first surfaced obliquely Sunday on the Political Big Leagues website, which two days earlier published the photo from Northam’s yearbook of a man in blackface standing beside a masked individual dressed in the hooded robe of the white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan.
Fairfax on Wednesday again denied wrongdoing, insisting his encounter with the woman was consensual, adding, “I wish her no harm or humiliation.”
In the latest bizarre twist to the multiple scandals rocking Virginia government, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax has retained the same law firm that represented now-Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh when he was going through the confirmation process and faced decades-old sexual misconduct allegations, Fox News has learned.
The woman accusing Fairfax of rape, Dr. Vanessa C. Tyson, meanwhile, has hired the attorneys who represented Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, Kavanaugh’s accuser, who alleged that he’d thrown her onto a bed and muffled her screams at a high school party.
On Wednesday, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring—who is second in succession line behind the lieutenant governor—is also embroiled in a scandal.
As Reuters reports, Herring admitted in a statement that he also wore blackface at a party in 1980.
In that same statement, the attorney general apologized for “a callous and inexcusable lack of awareness and insensitivity.”
Controversies simultaneously engulfing all three men have raised the improbable scenario of the Democrats suddenly losing the governorship to a Republican without an election. Kirk Cox, 61, the Republican speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates, is third in the state’s constitutional line of succession.
Despite Democrats’ professed commitment to rooting out bigotry and intolerance, Northam’s party might be motivated to rally behind him to avoid the prospect of Republicans suddenly assuming the governorship.
Cox, a former high school teacher who has served in the state’s Republican-controlled House since 1990, has said he was not convinced the yearbook scandal met the threshold for an impeachable transgression.