Virginia’s lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax, says he’s considering a run for governor of the state, despite the fact that he’s still the target of several unresolved sexual assault claims.
Fairfax even suggested that the sexual assault allegations helped raise his profile enough to earn statewide name recognition.
Fox News reports that Fairfax made the claims in an interview with the Richmond, Virginia, Times-Dispatch, where he claimed he was “inspired” to seek higher office by a recent trip to the United Kingdom.
“Going on that trip and even leaving that trip, I was really inspired,” Fairfax reportedly told the Times-Dispatch. “I’m very hopeful about the future. We’ve gotten a lot of encouragement about future political steps. I’m thinking very seriously about 2021.”
Fairfax, a Democrat, has somehow escaped any serious scrutiny following sexual assault claims from a pair of women who knew him from college and his early days in politics.
“In February, Scripps college associated professor Vanessa C. Tyson came forward with a claim that Fairfax assaulted her at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. Days later, a second accuser, Meredith Watson, said Fairfax raped her when they were both students at Duke University in 2000,” Fox News reports.
Both women came forward at a time where Democrats, urged on by both the “#MeToo” movement and recent confirmation hearings for now-Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, which also involved claims of sexual assault, were encouraging Americans to “believe all women” — but it seems that, unlike the alleged victims of Harvey Weinstein and Brett Kavanaugh’s accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, these women were sidelined for making their claims against a Democratic politician with a bright political future in a now-solidly blue state.
Fairfax was the second of three prominent Virginia politicians to become embroiled in a scandal in early 2019. Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam was discovered to have posed for a medical school yearbook photo in a racially charged Halloween costume, and the state’s Democratic attorney general, Mark Herring, also admitted to once wearing a racially insensitive costume that involved blackface.
Neither of those men has faced any marked consequences for their alleged racism. Northam went on a brief “listening tour” in his own state, while vehemently denying having posed for the photo, which showed two men, one dressed as a member of the Ku Klux Klan and one dressed in minstrel makeup. He has since operated as though the issue never existed.
Allegations against Fairfax emerged amid discussions over who would replace Northam were he to resign his role as Virginia’s governor. They were likewise forgotten after a few weeks.
Oddly enough, Fairfax now says that he believes the sexual assault allegations actually did him a favor. Instead of killing his career outright, they raised his profile, and he now believes he has enough name recognition to undertake a campaign for governor.
“Many people a year ago would not have recognized me, now they really do,” Fairfax told the Times-Dispatch. “People come up to me at gas stations, they say, ‘Hey, we recognize you. We love you. We know what they are saying about you is false.’”
Fairfax could face stiff competition in the upcoming election, however. Former Virginia governor and longtime Clinton family ally, Terry McAuliffe, says he may return to the race despite “retiring” to pursue other interests. After deciding to forgo the 2020 presidential election, McAuliffe is now without a job and would like the one he abandoned — Virginia’s governorship — back.