February 5, 2019

2-5-2019 Virginia officials grapple with accusations nuggets….(Vox)

  • National Democrats are calling for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to resign over an offensive photo (featuring one person in blackface and the other in a KKK uniform) on his medical school yearbook page. His lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, would take over if Northam stepped down. But Fairfax is now fighting an allegation that he sexually assaulted a woman in 2004. [The New York Times / Jonathan Martin]
  • Big League Politics, the same conservative website that posted the yearbook photo, published the sexual assault allegation, from a woman who said Fairfax assaulted her at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. Fairfax says the encounter was consensual. [The Washington Post / Theresa Vargas]
  • The woman told the Washington Post her story after he was elected in 2017, but the newspaper did not publish it because it could not independently corroborate her account — not because, as Fairfax claimed, reporters found inconsistencies in the story. [The Washington Post / Theresa Vargas]
  • If Fairfax did ascend to Northam’s seat, he would be the second black governor in Virginia’s history. He would serve through 2021 and then would likely have the option to run for another term. [Vox / Dylan Scott]
  • Meanwhile, it’s still not clear if one of the men in the yearbook photo is Northam. The Democratic governor apologized Friday for the image, but then backtracked on Saturday, stating he was still sorry — but it wasn’t him in the photo. Northam then admitted to wearing blackface at another point in time to impersonate Michael Jackson. [Vox / Emily Stewart]
  • Fairfax, a descendant of slaves, and Northam appealed to black voters in 2017 who supported an anti-white supremacy agenda in Virginia. Now, Northam’s weakened credibility has dampened efforts against racism in the state. [The Atlantic / Vann R. Newkirk II]
  • The yearbook photo was released amid a debate over a Virginia bill to relax abortion restrictions in the state. Northam’s support of the bill, and confusing comments he made about what could happen in a hypothetical third-trimester abortion leading to a live birth, has angered abortion opponents and even drew criticism from President Trump. [Vox / Anna North]

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