Savage: ‘Race is inseparable from Virginia’s ugly gubernatorial scandal’

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Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax presides over the Senate at the Virginia State Capitol, February 7, 2019 in Richmond, Virginia. Virginia state politics are in a state of upheaval, with Governor Ralph Northam and State Attorney General Mark Herring both admitting to past uses of blackface and Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax accused of sexual misconduct. (Drew Angerer / Getty Images)

By NIARA SAVAGE | Nashville Voice

Justin Fairfax, the young, black lieutenant governor of Virginia, just may become the state’s second ever African American governor.

That’s because the state’s current governor, Ralph Northam has just earned himself a significant amount of the wrong kind of national attention, after photos of his medical school yearbook featuring students dressed in blackface and KKK uniforms were made public.

Although Wortham continues to claim that he will not resign from office, the mounting pressure from critics calling on him to step down just may force him to do so. In that event, Fairfax—a lawyer, husband, and father of two—would assume the position.

Last week, Fairfax was suddenly thrust into his own public scandal when university professor Vanessa Tyson claimed that she had been sexually assaulted by the then 25-year-old Columbia Law student back in 2004.

Fairfax has consistently denied these allegations, claiming that all interactions between he and Tyson were consensual, and stated that the same claims had nearly been made public by the media a year prior, but were not published because the allegations could not be corroborated.

Fairfax said that when Tyson first brought her story to the media, “The Washington Post didn’t believe her,” and dropped the story even after three months of investigations. According to Fairfax, it’s no coincidence that the accusations have cropped up just when an opportunity to be elevated to the position of governor became a possibility.

In his own words, Fairfax said, “Does anyone think that on the eve of my being elevated, that’s when this uncorroborated smear comes out?”

The embattled lieutenant governor added, “You don’t have to understand politics to understand when somebody is trying to manipulate a process to harm someone’s character without any basis whatsoever.”

Fairfax, who has passed two FBI background checks, also asked the critical, rhetorical question, “How many elected officials in the Commonwealth of Virginia have ever been smeared in this way?”

Fairfax’s insinuation that he’s being treated differently than other politicians involved in sexual assault allegations holds clout.

After all, Donald Trump continues to sit in the coveted oval office despite numerous allegations of sexual misconduct, and Brett Kavanaugh was granted a seat on the ‘highest court in the land’ after allegations of rape and sexual assault.

Race certainly can’t be separated from Virginia’s current gubernatorial drama, especially in the face of the fact that Fairfax’s colleagues—Governor Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring—are currently under fire for their associations with blackface and the Ku Klux Klan.

As the fate of Virginia’s executive branch continues to hang in the balance, the outcome promises to reflect and expose Virginia’s most honest values.

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