Democrats in Virginia have had a rough couple of days, and now they are starting to point the finger at each other.
The drama for Virginia Democrats started last week when Governor Ralph Northam (D-Va.) spoke out about a late-term abortion bill put forward by Delegate Kathy Tran (D-Va.) that would allow a mother to request an abortion while in labor.
During a radio interview with WTOP, Northam explained that, in some cases, the law would have allowed the mother to deliver the baby and then decide if she wanted to move forward with the abortion.
“It’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities, there may be a fetus that is non-viable. So in this particular example, if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mothers.”
While there wasn’t a lot of outcry from Virginia Democrats over Northam’s abortion comments, the controversy did land him in the national spotlight.
According to a report from the Washington Post, a “concerned citizen” who was opposed to Northam’s abortion stance sent a tip to Big League Politics about a photo on the governor’s yearbook page that shows two men, one in blackface and one in a Ku Klux Klan robe.
As IJR previously reported, Northam apologized for the photo but denied that he was in it. He did, however, admit to wearing blackface during a dance competition when he was competing as Michael Jackson. This apology didn’t cut it for many Virginia Democrats, prompting several to call for his resignation.
Northam has refused to resign, so far. If he were to step down, Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax would become governor, but now Fairfax has a scandal of his own.
Fairfax was accused of sexually assaulting a woman in a hotel room. According to Fairfax, the accusations are not valid. He also claimed that the Washinton Post was tipped off on the allegations and decided not to report because of “significant red flags and inconsistencies.”
— Justin Fairfax (@LGJustinFairfax) February 4, 2019
The Post has since pushed back on the claim that they found the allegations to be “inconsistent,” rather they found that the claims couldn’t be corroborated. The Post addressed Fairfax’s comments, writing:
“Fairfax and the woman told different versions of what happened in the hotel room with no one else present. The Post could not find anyone who could corroborate either version. The Post did not find ‘significant red flags and inconsistencies within the allegations,’ as the Fairfax statement incorrectly said.”
So Fairfax’s claim that the allegations were flimsy was not verified by anyone but himself, leaving many Virginia Democrats stuck between a rock and a hard place.
According to a report by the New York Times, Fairfax believes the sexual assault allegations may have been leaked by Northam or one of his staffers to make it more difficult to ask the governor to resign with the lieutenant governor embroiled in a controversy of his own.
“Does anybody think it’s any coincidence that on the eve of potentially my being elevated that that’s when this uncorroborated smear comes out?” Fairfax told reporters in the capitol upon being asked if he thought Northam, his fellow Dem, was behind the story.
— Jonathan Martin (@jmartNYT) February 4, 2019
“Does anybody think it’s any coincidence that on the eve of potentially my being elevated that that’s when this smear comes out?” Fairfax told the Times after being asked by a reporter if he believed Northam was behind the leaked allegations.
Northam’s team has denied the allegations, but the finger pointing has many Virginia Democrats confused as to what could happen.
Graham Moomaw of the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported that one delegate claimed that this drama could result in both men stepping down and a random person appointed by Fairfax could become governor.
Said lawmaker: “I think there’s at least a 50-50 chance that’s how it goes down.”
— Graham Moomaw (@gmoomaw) February 4, 2019
For now, it is unclear how this will play out. Northam hasn’t made any moves toward resignation and Fairfax is fully denying the accusations against him.