Thomas Gallatin / February 7, 2019

Virginia Dem Scandal Spirals

The top three state Democrats are now embroiled in outrage of their own making.

It’s a tough time to be a Democrat in Virginia. For the rest of the country, it’s been like watching an episode of “House of Cards,” only this is no fictional TV show. Wednesday provided the latest twist in what can only be described as a slow-motion political train wreck.

Following the initial revelation of Gov. Ralph Northam’s racist 1984 yearbook photograph and that in another yearbook he was known by the nickname “Coonman,” Democrats across the country were quick to call for his resignation. Many assumed Democrats were in the perfect position to prove their party’s commitment to “social justice.” However, almost immediately following Northam’s controversy, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax found himself knee-deep in his own scandal, this time over allegations of sexual assault. His accuser, Dr. Vanessa Tyson, has released a detailed statement of her accusations.

With Virginia’s top two Democrats facing growing pressure to resign, the question of succession was raised. According to the Commonwealth’s Constitution, should both Northam and Fairfax resign, the office of the governorship would fall to Democrat Attorney General Mark Herring.

For Democrats, should that worst-case scenario unfold, it would be painful, but at least a Republican wouldn’t take over. Or at least that was the thinking until Wednesday afternoon, when AG Herring admitted that he too had dressed in blackface once in 1980 when he was in college. Cue the outrage posse.

Suddenly, Virginia’s top three Democrats are all damaged goods — two racists and a sex offender. Ironically, one of the Democrats who had called for Northam’s resignation was none other than Herring, who stated on Saturday, “It is no longer possible for Governor Northam to lead our Commonwealth and it is time for him to step down. I have spoken with Lieutenant Governor Fairfax and assured him that, should he ascend to the governorship, he will have my complete support and commitment to ensuring his success and the success of our Commonwealth." So, if Herring does not resign for the same "crime,” would he not be outing himself as a total hypocrite and political opportunist?

And, to rub a little salt in the Democrats’ wound, guess who’s in line for the governorship should all three Democrats resign — Virginia House Speaker Kirk Cox, a Republican. Recall that after the 2017 election and a tie in the final race to determine which party would control the House, a coin toss gave control to Cox.

National Review’s Jim Geraghty writes, “One under-discussed aspect of these revelations is that for once, we know that it’s unlikely that they’re being leaked by Republicans; if the GOP had this information, they would have used it during the 2017 campaigns. No, what’s much more likely is that Northam, Fairfax, and Herring or allies of the three men are leaking them against each other. Virginia’s term limit for governors means that the state is never more than four years away from an open seat and, considering the state’s rapidly changing demographics, if you win the Democratic nomination, the odds are no worse than 50-50 that you win. There are a lot of ambitious Virginia Democrats with sharp elbows.”

Finally, Mark Alexander observes, “I think Demos are regretting jumping on the resignation bandwagon because there are very likely other stupid yearbook photos, fraternity pranks, etc., in many backgrounds. The issue with the two blackface cases versus sexual assault are very different, and Northam’s fumbling story change compounds his problems, but the point is that just about everyone out there has stupid stuff in their past. Will the category of offense be widened from just the Demo favorites of race and #MeToo?”


On Friday a second woman accused Fairfax of sexual assault claiming that in 2000 he raped her. Now it’s a pattern.

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