If Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam were to resign after the blackface scandal that’s enveloped his office, the general feeling was, surely Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax would be an uncontroversial replacement.
Take former Vice President Joe Biden’s tweet about the controversy: “There is no place for racism in America,” he wrote. “Governor Northam has lost all moral authority and should resign immediately, Justin Fairfax is the leader Virginia needs now.”
Northam had said on Saturday that he didn’t intend to resign, but also said he would consider if he didn’t think he was effective. According to The Washington Post, the governor spent Sunday night in a meeting with his senior staff, making it look as if Lt. Gov. Fairfax was coming closer to the office.
In the era of identity politics, Fairfax would be the perfect antidote for the Democrats. Given that he’s only just about to turn 40, he would be a young, African-American governor replacing an older white man who had to leave office because of racism allegations. There seemed like there was nothing that could possibly go wrong with swapping out Northam for Fairfax.
When he was sworn in as Virginia’s lieutenant governor in 2018, Justin Fairfax had the papers that freed his great-great-great grandfather from slavery in his pocket. If Gov. Ralph Northam resigns, he’d be the state’s 2nd African-American governor. https://t.co/AksxmWlhCz
— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 2, 2019
And then came a report Sunday night, as most Americans were tuned to the Super Bowl, that Fairfax had been accused of sexual assault by a university professor.
The accusation was broken by the right-leaning Big League Politics and by the new, conservative organization Culttture, which attributed it to “several Virginia political operatives, both Democrat and Republican.”
Shortly thereafter, it published an accusation made on social media by Vanessa Tyson — a professor at Scripps College in California, according to the Washington Examiner.
“This is Vanessa Tyson’s private post. She gave permission to share this screenshot of her post. She’s a professor…”
— Culttture (@culttture) February 4, 2019
Several hours later, Fairfax’s team released a statement denying the charges.
— Justin Fairfax (@FairfaxJustin) February 4, 2019
The statement called it “a false and unsubstantiated allegation” that had already been shopped around.
“The person reported to be making this false allegation first approached the Washington Post — one of the nation’s most prominent newspapers — more than a year ago, around the time of the Lieutenant Governor’s historic inauguration,” it continued. “The Post carefully investigated the claim for several months. After being presented with facts consistent with the Lt. Governor’s denial of the allegation, the absence of any evidence corroborating the allegation, and significant red flags and inconsistencies within the allegation, the Post made the considered decision not to publish the story.
“Tellingly, not one other reputable media outlet has seen fit to air this false claim,” it continued.
As syndicated columnist Phil Kerpen noted, there’s a certain level of irony to The Post refusing to publish an uncorroborated sexual assault allegation with “significant red flags.”
Justin Fairfax’s defense to Vanessa Tyson’s sexual assault accusation is that the WaPo refused to run the story.
If that’s true, I look forward to seeing what accusation could fail to meet the standards of the paper that smeared Kavanaugh with zero evidence.
— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) February 4, 2019
That said, as was the case with last fall’s accusations against now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, we don’t know how credible this allegation is or where this will go.
For all we know, this is a dead end and Big League Politics and Culttture rushed the story without doing their due diligence. It’s worth noting that several other “reputable media outlet(s)” have seen fit to publish at least the Fairfax response to the allegations, although they would be hard-pressed not to, given that the fact that story is in circulation.
However, from the scanty amount we know less than 24 hours after this post was made, there are two takeaways we can highlight.
The first is obvious: This throws the situation in Virginia into even more chaos. If Northam had resigned, the argument seemed to be, Justin Fairfax was a great choice as a second-in-line. In fact, some might have argued that Virginia was upgrading.
However, if the allegation remains outstanding and it can neither be corroborated nor conclusively refuted, it would be difficult for Fairfax to succeed Northam and govern effectively — unless, of course, political operatives on the left were willing to concede that “believe all women” is only operative when it’s a conservative and it actually matters.
Even with The Post refusing to run the story, it would simply torpedo too much of the cultural scaffolding the left has erected around the #MeToo movement and continue to fractionate the party after an already divisive battle over Northam.
Next up in the line of succession would be the attorney general, Mark Herring. Party isn’t an issue, since Herring is a Democrat, and he was also planning to run for governor in 2021, according to The Washington Post. Herring has also called for Northam to resign.
That all being said, having to go two-deep to find a successor for Northam would be a public relations nightmare for the Democrats, particularly since the reasons would be allegations of racism and sexual impropriety — two things that the party has famously tried to pin on Republicans.
The second thing we can note is that this all seemed to spill out because of Gov. Northam’s rank statement on abortion up until — and even after — the point of birth. It’s almost as if God, obviously knowing the Virginia Democrat Party to be the washpot that we’ve all discovered it is, decided to let us all in on the horrors.
I can’t even say what Lt. Gov. Fairfax did with any certainty, much less the Lord. However, it might behoove any governor willing to make a statement as vile as Northam’s to look at what secrets came spilling out in the aftermath.
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