THE TALON

Opinion: Disaster in Virginia

Three Democrats embroiled in scandal face calls for resignation

Virginia+Governor+Ralph+Northam
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Opinion: Disaster in Virginia

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam

It’s been a disastrous month for Virginia Democrats. At the beginning of February, a conservative news website revealed that the incumbent Governor of Virginia’s medical school yearbook featured an image of a man in blackface and another man wearing a KKK hood. Gov. Northam was quick to apologize “for the decision to appear as [he] did in this photo” before walking that statement back the next day, claiming that he did not actually appear in the photo as previously stated. He later admitted to wearing blackface in a Michael Jackson costume in a separate incident, insensitively offering to moonwalk at a press conference. Another source revealed that his nickname was a racial slur while in college. Northam has refused to resign despite intense pressure from fellow Democrats and others to do so.

In addition, Virginia’s Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax faces multiple allegations of sexual assault and rape from two women. Many Democratic legislators have called for Fairfax’s resignation as well. To make matters worse for Democrats, Virginia Attorney-General Mark Herring–who is third in line to the governorship–voluntarily admitted to wearing blackface while in college, although he faces few public calls for his resignation. Should all three men resign (a distinct possibility), the Republican Speaker of the House of Delegates Kirk Cox would become Governor, but the Republicans don’t appear free from scandal either. It was recently revealed that the Republican Senate Majority Leader was the managing editor of a yearbook containing similarly racist photos.

It’s hard to see how Gov. Northam can remain in office given these revelations, but he seems desperate to cling to power. Virginia governors are limited to just one term in office, so Northam won’t face any political repercussions for his collapsing approval ratings, though it’s hard to see what he will be able to accomplish without the support of even his own party. The allegations against Fairfax are the gravest of all. They deserve the investigation he requests, although the accusations appear both credible and detailed. The Attorney-General will likely be able to weather the political storm, given his voluntary admission and the desire of the Democrats to retain the governorship for their party. Northam and Fairfax should both strongly consider resigning. They’ve lost the trust of the people and are a liability for Democratic control of the state in future elections. If they truly care about advancing the policies they ran on, they should let someone else take the reins.

 

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