Lieutenant Governor of Virginia Justin Fairfax, a Democrat, and State Senator Joe Morrissey (D-Richmond) are not backing down from a fight with fellow Democrat and former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe. Fairfax is one of the many candidates who is locked in a fiercely competitive primary with McAuliffe; which includes State Senator Jennifer McClellan (D-Richmond), Delegate Lee Carter (D-Prince William), and former Delegate Jennifer Carroll Foy (D-Prince William).
During Tuesday’s Democratic primary debate for Governor, Lieutenant Governor Fairfax made a statement that floored Virginia politicos of all political stripes. Mr. Fairfax, when asked about past allegations of sexual assault stated:
I was falsely accused in 2019. Everyone here on the stage called for my immediate resignation, including Terry McAuliffe, three minutes after the press release came out. He treated me like George Floyd, treated me like Emmett Till. No due process. Immediately assumed my guilt. (emphasis added)
After the debate, former Governor Terry McAuliffe was endorsed by incumbent Ralph Northam in an apparent snub to not only Lieutenant Governor Fairfax, but the rest of the field of progressive Democrats. While Democrat voters and activists continue to move the party farther to the left, the Democratic Party of Virginia establishment continues to rebuff these candidates, which include two prominent elected African-American women, an African-American statewide elected male, and a Marine Corps veteran.
I am honored to stand with Governor McAuliffe to keep our progress going in Virginia and take the reins of the post-COVID economy. https://t.co/kybTwrBZhj
— Ralph Northam (@RalphNortham) April 8, 2021
— Terry McAuliffe (@TerryMcAuliffe) April 8, 2021
The statements of the Lieutenant Governor, along with the incumbent Governor’s endorsement of McAuliffe is just the latest salvo in the scandal-plagued Northam administration.
Fairfax’s remarks from the debate are in reference to the 2019 scandal that began when Governor Ralph Northam stated in a radio interview he supported what many consider infanticide. The next day, Big League Politics featured a story with pictures of the Governor – then a student – in “either blackface or a Ku Klux Klan hood” in his medical school yearbook.
The scandals came to a head when Governor Northam held a press conference where he acknowledged that he was in the photos, but could not recall if he was the man in blackface or in the Klansman’s hood. However, he said did he recall “darkening his face” in a Michael Jackson impersonation and offered to “moonwalk” for reporters. First Lady Pamela Northam was visibly shaken.
Soon after, it was discovered that Attorney General Mark Herring had also donned blackface at a college party in the 1980’s while impersonating a rapper.
Meanwhile, according to sources familiar with the situation, Lieutenant Governor Fairfax was given a State Police escort, signaling to some that the Northam administration was seriously considering an exit from office, which would elevate Fairfax to the Governor’s mansion.
Calls for Northam’s resignation flooded the airwaves and Twitter, with everyone from the Democratic Party of Virginia, then-former Vice President, now President Joe Biden, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, both U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, and former Governor Terry McAuliffe.
Political watchers agree that, at the time, Justin Fairfax had a clear path to the governorship.
But then, serious allegations were made about Lieutenant Governor Fairfax by two women. Meredith Watson claimed that Fairfax raped her in 2000 while they both attended Duke University. Vanessa Tyson, who is prominent in the gender studies community, alleged that Fairfax, then age 25, forced her to perform oral sex on him during the 2004 Democratic National Convention, when was she 28 years old.
Due to the fallout from the allegations about Fairfax, calls for Northam’s resignation suddenly dampened to a whisper. At the same time, calls for Fairfax’s resignation began to build. Governor Terry McAuliffe, joined many prominent Democrats in calling for Fairfax’s resignation.
The allegations against Justin Fairfax are serious and credible. It is clear to me that he can no longer effectively serve the people of Virginia as Lieutenant Governor. I call for his immediate resignation.
— Terry McAuliffe (@TerryMcAuliffe) February 8, 2019
At the time, Fairfax denied the allegations of assault, admitting he was “intimate” with his accusers, but he described the encounters to be consensual. He also obtained counsel from the same attorney used to defend Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh against similar allegations of sexual wrongdoing.
According to sources, Justin Fairfax never called for the Governor to resign. Neither did Northam ask for Fairfax’s resignation. Instead, it more of an unspoken agreement between the two embattled Virginia leaders, sources say.
No charges were filed nor articles of impeachment made, however, Fairfax continues to suffer consequences from the allegations at the hands of the Virginia Democratic political establishment.
By the end of 2019, the uproar over the plethora of scandals from the Governor’s, Lieutenant Governor’s, and Attorney General’s offices died down. Northam and his administration took back control of Capital Square, Virginia Democrats won the majority in both houses of the General Assembly, and sweeping legislative changes were made to the Commonwealth.
Northam, who is term-limited, is now cruising to political retirement after winning multiple legislative victories including red-flag laws, major changes in voting rights, and marijuana legislation. Former Governor McAuliffe is currently running for his second term. Mark Herring is running for his third term as Attorney General.
Justin Fairfax is running for Governor, however, to this day, he is receiving criticism about his campaign and the allegations from 2019. He has not wavered from his statement of innocence, and Fairfax consistently denies all wrongdoing pertaining to these allegations.
When asked by The Virginia Star, Fairfax Chief of Staff Lauren Burke stated, “He will not act guilty when he is not guilty.”
State Senator Joe Morrissey blasted Mr. Fairfax’s accusers and opponents to The Virginia Star:
Justin Fairfax was treated horribly due to lack of due process. I understand the age that we live in, but I do not want us to forget that the Constitution requires due process.
He [Fairfax] begged the prosecutors in Boston and in Durham [referring to where the alleged sexual assaults occurred] to investigate this case to determine an ounce of truth. He begged the women to file a complaint and come forward. They did not file the complaint and he was denied his due process.
The press covered it like wildfire, then the women shied away from coverage. We should hear victims, but we have to allow due process. There are more holes in their stories than Swiss cheese!
What Justin was saying to all the people on that stage, they told me to quit, they didn’t support me. They told him to go home, that he was through. We don’t do that as a society, we have to give everyone their day in court, and in what many consider two false allegations.
When asked for comment, Governor McAuliffe and his campaign declined.
The Virginia Democratic primary for Governor will be held June 8th. Unlike the Republican unassembled convention, the Virginia Democrats’ primary will occur at thousands of precincts across the state. The Virginia Star will continue to follow this story as it develops.
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