Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax spoke at the Hampton NAACP event tonight that was dedicated to women’s history. Fairfax has been laying low since the end of the General Assembly session during which he was accused of sexual assault by two different women, both incidents occurring years ago. Both women, Dr. Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson have expressed their willingness to testify in front of the General Assembly.
Fairfax has ignored calls for his resignation, and has adamantly expressed that he is innocent. Governor Northam, who is also mired in a racial scandal, has begun to reappear across the state at events this week.
According to attendees of the event, Fairfax spoke out in defense of himself and against the accusations. He told the crowd that the accusations being made against him are lies.
Update: Video of the Lt. Governor speaking is here.
The state chapter of the NAACP has called for an investigation into the accusations. “Regardless of the claims, Fairfax won a statewide election where over a million Virginians voted for him. At the very least, he should be granted a modicum of respect and some level of due process in contesting these serious allegations” Fairfax himself called for an F.B.I. investigation into the matter.
Susan Hippen, a Democratic candidate in the 7th state Senate district spoke to Fairfax at the event tonight. She told Richmond 2day that they discussed her campaign. In regards to staying away from Fairfax while on the campaign trail, Hippen said she has no intention of doing so. “I’m not scared of Justin,” said Hippen. “Justin is a good man”. Hippen says she also has no plan to shy away from Governor Ralph Northam.
Governor Northam, mired in his own scandal after blackface and KKK photos, has also hit the streets again. He has been generally welcomed with positive feedback from Democrats, especially after his recent vetoes and budget amendments.
Attorney General Mark Herring announced earlier this year that he wore blackface years ago, putting the three top Democrats in the state in crisis mode. Several activists have been calling for all three of them to resign.
Democrats in the state races are going to be facing tough questions due to the actions of the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General. All 140 seats in the General Assembly are up for grabs this November. Some candidates will need the support from the top of the party, but other candidates may feel it is worth it to try and avoid those questions as much as possible by avoiding the Executive Branch.
The recent redistricting of several Republican-gerrymandered districts will all but solidify a Democratic win regardless. The Supreme Court is the last hurdle for the Democrats to jump over, or inversely the Supreme Court is the last life raft for Republicans. The uphill battle they are facing to keep the majority might even be too tall to be stopped by the Executives.
However, let’s not forget that Republicans have invited both of Fairfax’s alleged victims to testify in front of committees. Del. Rob Bell (R) rose on the House floor and announced that the General Assembly had “a duty to investigate” and that both women and Fairfax would be asked to testify at a date to be determined. The dates or details of potentially hearing their testimony has yet to be released.