Gubernatorial predecessor Terry McAuliffe, left, and inheritor obvious Justin Fairfax, center, on the victory secure together of the most contemporary governor, Ralph Northam, merely.
Photograph: Steal McNamee/Getty Shots

Early this year, Virginia Democrats have been feeling excellent about their 2018 gains, and have been expecting the probability of finally reconquering both chambers of the articulate legislature. As for 2021, when Governor Ralph Northam would possibly be term-restricted (Virginia is the one real closing articulate with a one-term limit on gubernatorial tenures), there modified into a typical expectation that Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax and Licensed skilled Traditional Label Herring have been positioning themselves for a highly competitive gubernatorial major.

Then — kaboom. Northam and Herring have been hit with evidence they had looked in blackface in faculty yearbooks, and then two females got here forward accusing Fairfax of sexual assault. Miraculously, all three men have survived episodic calls for his or her resignation, and Virginia Democrats are newly optimistic they’ll nonetheless originate smartly within the legislative elections this tumble.

As for 2021 — smartly, that’s a techniques off, and the scandal-plagued leaders have motive to judge the furor will proceed to wane. But if any person’s nonetheless in coming near trouble, it’s Fairfax, who despite denying the expenses in opposition to him, would possibly maybe nonetheless have a public reckoning. So this indication (thru a document from the Richmond Cases-Dispatch) that he’s no longer letting it atomize his ambitions is interesting, specifically since he blandly suggests the scandal has raised his name ID:

Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax said Thursday that he’s “very hopeful about the future” and “pondering very seriously” about a gubernatorial escape in 2021.

Fairfax, who faces sexual assault allegations by two females, said the scandal has raised his public profile for excellent.

“Many folks a year ago wouldn’t have known me, now they in fact originate,” Fairfax said. “Of us attain as a lot as me at gas stations, they issue, ‘Howdy, we acknowledge you. We fancy you. We all know what they are announcing about you is fraudulent’ ” …

Fairfax has insisted the allegations are spurious and a “smear campaign” launched on the cusp of his doubtless ascent to greater articulate of work amid the blackface scandal that has plagued Gov. Ralph Northam.

The 2 females have for months requested a public listening to sooner than the Traditional Assembly, the set they’ll testify under oath about their allegations. Fairfax and Democrats within the Traditional Assembly have sought to block efforts by Republicans to retain the listening to, claiming partisan antics and arguing in desire of law enforcement investigations.

Support in February, on the height of the Virginia Democratic leadership meltdown, Herring said he nonetheless supposed to escape in 2021; both he and Fairfax have seen their approval rankings descend, even supposing no longer calamitously. However the extra outstanding memoir in contemporary weeks has been that a truly familiar figure would possibly maybe attain motivate dwelling and place his secure together from scandal and a doubtlessly unsuitable major, as Politico explained closing month:

Terry McAuliffe toyed with a presidential advise for months easiest to bow out. But motivate in his adopted articulate of Virginia, it’s assumed he’s going to escape for a 2d term as governor.

McAuliffe hasn’t made up our minds, even supposing he doesn’t exactly discourage the hypothesis, either. But a half-dozen folks near him urged POLITICO he’s seriously pondering it. And Democrats in Richmond are operating as even supposing it’s a accomplished deal.

In section due to the complications skilled by Northam, Fairfax, and Herring, McAuliffe has already begun taking part in a truly active feature in barnstorming for Democratic legislative candidates. And if issues work out, a Democratic legislature would possibly maybe procure a 2d term in Richmond gorgeous to T-Mac:

The Republican-led chamber thwarted McAuliffe’s signature campaign promise of expanding Medicaid thru the Cheap Care Act, even supposing it passed after he left articulate of work.

McAuliffe has continuously been well-liked amongst Virginia’s African-Americans, which would possibly maybe help him edge Fairfax out the 2021 flee if he decides to enter it. However the lieutenant governor’s extra instantaneous mumble is to certain himself, or a minimal of solid serious doubts upon, allegations he committed a rape in Durham, North Carolina, in 2000 and in a single other in Boston in 2004. Superb week he tried to head on the offensive, because the Newport News Day after day Press reported:

Announcing he must “expedite the course of” and advise his innocence, an authorized skilled for Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is formally calling on prosecutors in Durham and Boston to study allegations of sexual assault in opposition to him.

The letters, despatched Wednesday and offered to the Day after day Press by Fairfax’s spokeswoman, attain bigger than four months after two females accused the Democratic lieutenant governor of rape …

In both letters to the prosecutors, the authorized skilled says Fairfax is interesting to help with the investigation, testify under oath and be interviewed. He added he hoped the two females would file a prison grievance and “be part of me in inquiring for an investigation and would possibly maybe nonetheless cooperate in your Teach of work’s investigation of that grievance.”

Till this saga plays out, Fairfax’s political viability has to be regarded as very restricted. And a doubtlessly huge 2021 topic of Virginia Republicans are watching the total imprint for signs that Democrats are shedding their contemporary political momentum within the articulate.

Fairfax Eyes 2021 Gov Creep, Says Scandal Raised His Profile