clearn.png
Wednesday September 18th, 2019 1:35AM

Virginia looks to Black Caucus for cues in political turmoil

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — With Virginia's top three elected officials engulfed in scandal, fellow Democrats were rendered practically speechless, uncertain of how to thread their way through the racial and sexual allegations and the tangled political implications.

Gov. Ralph Northam's career was already teetering over a racist photo in his 1984 medical school yearbook when the crisis seemed to spiral completely out of control Wednesday. First, the state's attorney general acknowledged that he, too, put on blackface once, when he was a college student. Then a woman publicly accused the lieutenant governor of sexually assaulting her 15 years ago.

Everyone in Richmond, it seemed, was waiting Thursday for Virginia's Legislative Black Caucus to respond. The caucus has been calling for Northam's resignation over the past week but was silent about the latest developments .

"We've got a lot to digest," the group's chairman, Del. Lamont Bagby, said Wednesday.

The crisis threatens to bring down all three of the politicians, all of them Democrats. If Northam resigns, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax stands to become Virginia's second black governor. Attorney General Mark Herring is next in the line of succession, followed by House Speaker Kirk Cox, a conservative Republican.

Herring, who had been urging Northam to step down and was planning to run for governor in 2021, admitted wearing brown makeup and a wig in 1980 to look like a rapper during a party when he was a 19-year-old student at the University of Virginia.

He apologized for his "callous" behavior and said the days ahead "will make it clear whether I can or should continue to serve." The 57-year-old Herring came forward with his statement after rumors about the existence of a blackface photo of him began circulating at the Capitol. But he made no mention of any photo.

Then Vanessa Tyson, whose sexual assault allegations against Fairfax surfaced earlier this week, put out a detailed statement saying he forced her to perform oral sex on him in a hotel room in 2004 during the Democratic National Convention in Boston. The Associated Press typically does not identify those who say they were sexually assaulted, but the 42-year-old college professor from California issued the statement in her name.

Fairfax has repeatedly denied her allegations, saying that the encounter was consensual and that he is the victim of a strategically timed political smear.

At the Capitol, lawmakers were dumbstruck over Wednesday's fast-moving developments, with Democratic Sen. Barbara Favola saying, "I have to take a breath and think about this." GOP House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert said it would be "reckless" to comment. "There's just too much flying around," he said.

President Donald Trump accused Democrats on Thursday of a political double-standard, tweeting: "If the three failing pols were Republicans, far stronger action would be taken."

Black lawmakers' response could set the tone for whether fellow Democrats demand the resignation of the lieutenant governor and attorney general.

Cox called the allegations against Fairfax "extremely serious" and said they need a "full airing of facts." The Republican leader also urged Herring to "adhere to the standard he has set for others," a nod to Herring's previous call that Northam resign.

On Thursday, a few hundred anti-abortion demonstrators gathered at the Capitol to renew their criticism of Northam for backing a bill loosening restrictions on late-term abortions. One carried a sign referring to Northam as "Gov Doctor Death."

And in a nod to the scandals facing the Democrats, GOP Sen. Amanda Chase said while leading the crowd in prayer: "The actions that have been taken by our leadership have hurt the very heart of God."

Democrats have expressed fear that the uproar over the governor could jeopardize their chances of taking control of the GOP-dominated Virginia legislature this year after making big gains in 2017.

At the same time, the Democrats nationally have taken a hard line against misconduct in their ranks because women and minorities are a vital part of their base and they want to be able to criticize Trump's behavior without looking hypocritical.

Northam has come under pressure from nearly the entire Democratic establishment to resign after the discovery of a photo on his yearbook profile page of someone in blackface standing next to a person in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe. Northam initially said he was in the photo, then denied it, but acknowledged putting shoe polish on his face for a dance contest in Texas in 1984, when he was in the Army.

Herring came down hard on Northam when the yearbook photo surfaced, condemning it as "indefensible," and "profoundly offensive." He said it was no longer possible for Northam to lead the state.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News
© Copyright 2019 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Venezuela's political fight could snarl rush to ship aid in
As Venezuela sinks deeper into economic crisis, emergency supplies of food and medicine can't come soon enough, but many aid experts fear efforts to send help will be derailed by the country's political confrontation
8:55AM ( 3 minutes ago )
Virginia looks to Black Caucus for cues in political turmoil
Democratic politicians are now waiting on the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus to respond to the latest developments threatening to bring down the state's top three elected officials
8:47AM ( 12 minutes ago )
UK, EU leaders spar during 'robust' Brexit talks
British Prime Minister Theresa May and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker sparred during "robust" talks on the UK's Brexit plans and agreed on more negotiations that could push any deal within a month of Britain's set departure date
8:46AM ( 12 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Russian official: Another nuclear pact with US in trouble
A senior Russian diplomat says that another U.S.-Russian nuclear pact is in danger following the U.S. move to withdraw from a Cold War-era arms control treaty
7:29AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Britons could face Europe roaming charges again
The British government says Britons traveling in Europe could face a steep hike in mobile phone charges after Brexit
7:21AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Juncker tells May no renegotiation on Brexit
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has told British Prime Minister Theresa May in talks in Brussels that her 27 EU partner countries will not renegotiate their Brexit divorce agreement
7:10AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Wariness and hope in S. Korea over second Trump-Kim summit
With the next meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un set for Feb. 27-28 in Vietnam, there's hope and caution in South Korea over whether the leaders can reduce the North's nuclear threat
5:07AM ( 3 hours ago )
UK leader travels to Brussels seeking Brexit breakthrough
British Prime Minister Theresa May is traveling to Brussels in a new attempt to reopen talks with the European Union on the Brexit divorce agreement and will meet with European Council President Donald Tusk and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker
5:04AM ( 3 hours ago )
German antitrust authorities restrict Facebook data use
German antitrust authorities have issued a ruling prohibiting Facebook from combining user data from different sources
4:26AM ( 4 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
Ukraine's parliament votes to support NATO, EU aspirations
Ukraine's parliament has passed constitutional amendment to commit to join NATO and the European Union
6:02AM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: UK leader arrives in Brussels for Brexit talks
U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has arrived at European Union headquarters in Brussels in a new attempt to reopen talks with the EU on the Brexit divorce agreement
5:21AM ( 3 hours ago )
The Latest: Lawmakers cried during meeting with Herring
A black Virginia state senator says several people were crying as Attorney General Mark Herring met with black lawmakers to discuss Herring's admission that he had dressed in blackface when he was in college
4:42AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Trump plans rally, Pelosi seeks deal as wall deadline nears
President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi are striking starkly different tones in their border security standoff
8:09PM ( 12 hours ago )
With anti-abortion push, Trump woos evangelicals again
With a fierce denunciation of late-term abortions, President Donald Trump made a move to re-energize evangelical voters, a key part of his base whose support will be vital in heading off any possible 2020 primary challenge
7:56PM ( 13 hours ago )
AP Source: Former Michigan Rep. John Dingell in hospice care
A person familiar with the situation says former Rep. John Dingell, the longest serving member of Congress in American history, is receiving hospice care
7:08PM ( 13 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Venezuela's political fight could snarl rush to ship aid in
As Venezuela sinks deeper into economic crisis, emergency supplies of food and medicine can't come soon enough, but many aid experts fear efforts to send help will be derailed by the country's political confrontation
8:55AM ( 3 minutes ago )
UK, EU leaders spar during 'robust' Brexit talks
British Prime Minister Theresa May and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker sparred during "robust" talks on the UK's Brexit plans and agreed on more negotiations that could push any deal within a month of Britain's set departure date
8:46AM ( 12 minutes ago )
Gucci pulls 'blackface sweater' from stores after complaints
Gucci has apologized for a wool sweater after complaints that it resembled blackface makeup and said the item had been pulled from its online and physical stores
8:45AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Gronk gets bonked by beer can during Super Bowl parade
New England Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski says he got hit in the face by a can of beer thrown during Tuesday's Super Bowl victory parade in Boston
8:45AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Dislike: Facebook will appeal German data-use ruling
German antitrust authorities have issued a ruling prohibiting Facebook from combining user data from different sources, a decision the company will appeal.
8:37AM ( 21 minutes ago )