It’s the third scandal in days involving top leaders in state government.
Virginia now has two blackface political scandals engulfing the Democratic Party.
Days after the governor admitted to donning blackface as part of a costume decades ago, Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring admitted Wednesday that he, too, as a young man once darkened his face as part of a costume at a college party.
“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. It sounds ridiculous even now writing it. But because of our ignorance and glib attitudes — and because we did not have an appreciation for the experiences and perspectives of others — we dressed up and put on wigs and brown makeup,” Herring wrote in a statement. “This was a onetime occurrence and I accept full responsibility for my conduct.”
Herring told the legislative black caucus about the matter in a hastily called closed-door meeting Wednesday morning after rumors began circulating about a photo of him in blackface decades ago.
The admissions of the two Democratic leaders bookend another emerging political crisis involving the state’s only elected black leader, Lieutenant Gov. Justin Fairfax, who has been accused by a woman of sexually assaulting her at the Democratic National Convention in 2004.
Fairfax had called the accusations a “smear” and suggested they were released to keep him from assuming the governor’s office if Northam bowed to the nearly unanimous pressure from state and national Democrats to resign. Amid the drama, Herring was being discussed in the Capitol as another possible successor if the allegations against Fairfax were too much for him to bear.
Now talk of that option appears dead as well.
The back-to-back-to-back blows to the top three elected officials in the state paralyzed the Capitol in Richmond and left Democrats shell-shocked by the multiple revelations concerning racial sensitivity and sexual violence — two issues that the party had once viewed as a strength relative to the GOP.
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