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After a Stunning String of Democratic Scandals – and a 'Coin Toss' – a Republican Could Be Virginia's Next Governor

02-08-2019
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Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, and Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (AP Photo)

With Virginia's three top state officials, all of them Democrats, caught in political scandal, the commonwealth's next governor could possibly be a Republican – if those three Democrats are forced from office.

But wait. Now there's news that a top state Republican senator is also being tied to scandal. The Virginian-Pilot reports Republican Sen. Tommy Norment oversaw a yearbook during his time at the Virginia Military Institute in 1968 that included multiple racial slurs and images.

While both sides are now being hit, the controversy kicked off last week when Democrats called for the resignation of Gov. Ralph Northam over a racist photograph featured on his personal page in his 1984 medical school yearbook. In that photo, one man appeared in blackface while another was in a KKK outfit.

After initially apologizing for it, Northam now claims he was not in the photo. His denials, however, have fallen on deaf ears.

"Instinctively, you know if you put black paint on your face; you know if you put a hood on," Northam's friend and former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) told CNN.  

Northam has, however, publicly admitted to wearing blackface when he once tried to imitate Michael Jackson.

Meanwhile, a potential successor to Northam, Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, has also found himself sidelined by allegations of a sexual assault that took place 15 years ago. The Business Insider reports that he too is proclaiming his innocence.

"We reiterate that this allegation is false," a spokeswoman for Fairfax told Insider. "At no time has the lieutenant governor assaulted anyone at any time or at any place."

But Concerned Women for America's Penny Nance says Fairfax's accuser must be heard, calling for an FBI investigation.

"Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax's accuser deserves the same consideration as Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Justice Kavanaugh underwent SEVEN FBI investigations in total. The silence of the left (in the Fairfax case) speaks volumes. Where is the public outrage? Where are the calls for an FBI investigation? If Democrats don't take this seriously and begin an investigation, their credibility is lost," Nance said.

With Northam and Fairfax under fire, that left Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring as the Democrats' last hope – until Wednesday when Herring admitted that he too dressed up in blackface during a college party in the 80s.

Calling the incident "a one-time occurrence," the 57-year-old attempted to apologize for his actions, NBC News reports.

"I accept full responsibility for my conduct," he said, adding that "the shame of that moment has haunted me for decades."

If those three Democrats were to leave office, conservative Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox (R) would take the governorship. That's because of a bizarre win in 2018 in which Cox's election run was so close to his opponent that his name was pulled out of a ceramic bowl designed at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

While Cox has also joined the chorus of voices calling for Northam's resignation, the Richmond Times-Dispatch reports the 61-year-old has no plans to oust Northram from the governor's seat.

"I think there's a rightful hesitation about removal from office because, obviously, you have to consider that to some degree you're overturning an election," the Times-Dispatch quoted Cox as saying Monday.

Despite the offensive nature of the medical yearbook photo, Cox expressed doubt that it would serve as adequate grounds for impeachment.

"That's why we have called for the resignation," explained the Virginia delegate. "We hope that's what the governor does. I think that would obviously be less pain for everyone."

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