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Virginia governor seems at funeral as strain grows on his No. 2

Virginia governor appears at funeral as pressure grows on his No. 2


Virginia governor seems at funeral as strain grows on his No. 2

By Gary Robertson

RICHMOND, Va. (Reuters) – Virginia Governor Ralph Northam made his first public look on Saturday since defying calls every week in the past to step down over a racist yearbook {photograph}, as his potential successor, a fellow Democrat, confronted rising strain over sexual assault allegations.

Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, the state’s second-highest elected official, faces the prospect of impeachment proceedings by the hands of one other Democrat subsequent week after two girls individually accused him of sexual crimes, together with rape.

Fairfax has denied each claims and referred to as them a “coordinated smear marketing campaign.” He has been as defiant as Northam in refusing to step down. Northam’s personal troubles started when a racist picture from his medical college yearbook went public on Feb. 1.

After staying out of sight since he confronted the press on Feb. 2 to disclaim he was pictured in a blatantly racist photograph on his yearbook web page, however admitting that he had worn blackface on one other event, Northam, 59, returned to the general public eye to attend the funeral of a slain state trooper.

Earlier than leaving for the service in Chilhowie, a small city within the state’s rural southwest nook, Northam doubled down on his willpower to remain in workplace, pledging to advertise racial reconciliation within the remaining three years of his time period.

“It is apparent from what occurred this week that we nonetheless have a number of work to do,” he stated in an interview with The Washington Publish on Saturday. “There are nonetheless some very deep wounds in Virginia, and particularly within the space of fairness.”

He instructed the Publish that conversations this week with black state lawmakers, who’re amongst these calling for him to resign, helped him higher perceive the historical past and hurtfulness of blackface, which he admitted utilizing in 1984 to painting Michael Jackson at a dance contest.

The governor additionally stated within the interview that he would take “a more durable line” on transferring the state’s Accomplice monuments, which have turn out to be lightning rods for racial division, from public property into museums.

The week’s political chaos surrounding the state’s prime two elected officers stretched all the way down to the second-in-line to succeed Northam, Lawyer Basic Mark Herring, 57, who admitted that he, too, had as soon as darkened his face to mimic a black performer.

The opportunity of all three top-ranked leaders of Virginia’s govt department having to resign raised the prospect of Democrats shedding the governorship to the Republican speaker of the state Home of Delegates, who’s subsequent within the line of succession.

It additionally has stirred Democrats’ considerations that political discord in Virginia, a key swing state in presidential elections, may flip it again into the Republican column within the 2020 White Home race.

Regardless of the calls on Northam to step down, better strain was targeted on Fairfax, after a state Home member, Patrick Hope, declared on Friday that he would introduce articles of impeachment on Monday until the lieutenant governor resigns.

Fairfax, 39, has insisted his encounter with a girl who has accused him of forcing himself on her sexually in Boston in 2004 was fully consensual. He stated an accusation by a second girl that he raped her once they had been each college students at Duke College in 2000 was “demonstrably false” and has demanded a full investigation.

“I’ll clear my good identify and I’ve nothing to cover,” Fairfax stated in an announcement. “I cannot resign.”

Requires Fairfax, who’s African-American, to step apart have come from state Home and Senate Democrats, the Legislative Black Caucus, former Democratic Governor Terry McAuliffe, Virginia’s two U.S. senators, Tim Kaine and Mark Warner, additionally each Democrats, and a number of other potential Democratic presidential hopefuls.

(Reporting by Gary Robertson in Richmond,Va.; Extra reporting by Peter Szekely and Jonathan Allen in New York, Katharine Jackson in Richmond, and Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Enhancing by Leslie Adler)

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