Trump stokes Democrats' Virginia turmoil as scandal snares Republican

Manassas VA. He admitted on Feb. 6 2019 that he wore blackface to a college party amid the controversy surrounding resurfaced

That leaves many state Democrats in a quandary: Should they stick to the moral high ground and seek their resignations, or protect the party's power in a vital battleground state?

The saga now rocking Virginia is headline news, and people are taking to the streets to protest.

In Washington, Virginia's Democratic Senator Tim Kaine said he, too, would prefer to know more before reaching a conclusion.

Within the last six days, Virginia's Democratic leadership has begun collapsing on itself after three of its high-level members were caught up in scandal after scandal.

Fairfax has repeatedly disputed Tyson's account, saying while "no one makes charges of this kind lightly".

The governor initially said he was one of the two men, then denied it a day later. During a press conference Saturday, Northam insisted he was not in the yearbook photo but admitted he had once worn blackface. The graduation rate for the state improved slightly to 78.7 percentage points but was only 68 percent for African-American students.

Northamhas, however, publicly admitted to wearing blackface when he once tried to imitate Michael Jackson.

Bill Clark via Getty ImagesVirginia Attorney General Mark Herring.

Mr Herring, 57, went public after rumours of a blackface photo of him had circulated at the Capitol for a day or more.

"In 1980, when I was a 19-year-old undergraduate in college, some friends suggested we attend a party dressed like rappers we listened to at the time, like Kurtis Blow, and perform a song".

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Tyson said she issued the statement to counter Fairfax's attempts to discredit her after the accusation emerged in the media.

But he added: "This conduct is in no way reflective of the man I have become in the almost 40 years since".

But Fairfax, a fellow Democrat who would become the second black governor in the state's history and the youngest now serving governor in the country, soon faced allegations of his own: Vanessa Tyson, an associate professor at Scripps College and fellow at Stanford University, accused Fairfax of sexually assaulting her when they were both attending the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston, allegations he has denied. The delegation - consisting of the state's two US senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, and seven USA representatives - repeated its call for Northam to resign, and said the allegations against Fairfax "need to be taken very seriously", though it stopped short of demanding a formal investigation.

"Democrats have not learned the wrong lessons from Trump, and I'm glad about that".

Vanessa Tyson said Wednesday that Fairfax, a Democrat, sexually assaulted her at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.

Tyson said she suffered "deep humiliation and shame" and stayed quiet about the allegations as she pursued her career, but by late 2017, as the #MeToo movement took shape and after she saw an article about Fairfax's campaign, she took her story to The Washington Post, which decided months later not to publish a story. Fairfax denied the allegation, and claimed that his encounter with the woman had been consensual.

In the event that Northam stepped down, Fairfax would succeed him.

The No. 2 in line to succeed the governor, Herring apologized for "a callous and inexcusable lack of awareness and insensitivity".

The prospect of all three stepping down has raised the improbable scenario of the Democrats suddenly losing the governorship to a Republican without an election. They moved close to capturing a majority in the state House of Delegates in 2017, and picked up three U.S. House of Representatives seats from Republicans a year ago.

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