The Latest: Senators call on Lt. Gov. Fairfax to resign

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — The Latest on the fallout after two top Virginia Democrats admitted wearing blackface and another was accused of sexual assault (all times local):

6:20 p.m.

Contenders for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination have begun to issue calls that the lieutenant governor of Virginia to resign after a second woman accused him of sexual assault.

U.S. Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York were first among the expanding field to call for Justin Fairfax’s resignation. Booker posted on Twitter on Friday that “the multiple detailed allegations against the Lt. Gov. of Virginia are deeply troubling” and called on Fairfax to leave office.

Gillibrand called details of the second woman’s claims “sickening and horrendous” and also called on Fairfax to step down.

Earlier Friday, a woman released a statement that Fairfax assaulted her when they both were students at Duke University. California college professor Vanessa Tyson has accused Fairfax of forcing her to perform oral sex on him in 2004 during the Democratic National Convention.

Fairfax has denied the allegations.


4:45 p.m.

A second woman has come forward to accuse Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of sexual assault. The woman said in a statement Friday that the attack took place when she and Fairfax were students at Duke University.

The new accusation further clouds the fate of Virginia’s government. Fairfax would take over if Gov. Ralph Northam were to resign over the racist photo that appeared on his medical school yearbook page. Northam told his top staff Friday that he would not resign. Attorney General Mark Herring, who is second in line of succession, admitted putting on blackface in college.

Earlier this week, California college professor Vanessa Tyson accused Fairfax of forcing her to perform oral sex on him in 2004 during the Democratic National Convention. Fairfax called the allegation a political smear.


4:10 p.m.

A senior official in Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration says the governor has told his top staff that he does not plan to resign over a racist photo despite intense pressure to step down.

The official says Northam told his Cabinet during a Friday afternoon meeting that he intends to stay. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Northam has faced widespread calls to step down over after his medical school yearbook page with a racist photo surfaced last week. It shows one person in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood.

Northam said last Friday that he was in the picture. On Saturday, he denied he was in the picture and said he was not immediately resigning but left his long-term fate unclear.


1:15 p.m.

A Democratic lawmaker from Virginia’s D.C. suburbs says won’t call on the besieged governor to resign.

State Sen. Chap Petersen issued a statement Friday saying he’s spent the week meeting with voters to discuss the discovery of a racist photograph on the 1984 medical school yearbook page of Gov. Ralph Northam. Petersen’s Democratic-leaning district includes Fairfax and Vienna.

Peterson said he’s concluded that he “will not request the Governor’s resignation,” nor that of any other official who hasn’t obviously committed a crime in office or seen their ability to serve “irredeemably compromised.”

Many of the state’s Democrats have called on Northam to step down over the yearbook photo, which shows one person in blackface and another in Ku Klux Klan attire. He first said he was in the picture, then denied it while at the same time acknowledging that he did wear blackface once at a dance contest.


11:10 a.m.

A hip-hop pioneer who was imitated by a Virginia politician in blackface says he hopes people will learn lessons from such “regrettable actions.”

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring said earlier this week that he wore brown makeup to a college party in 1980 because he wanted to look like rappers he listened to, specifically mentioning Kurtis Blow. Now Herring is struggling to shore up his political support amid calls for his resignation.

The rapper released a statement Friday on Instagram saying he hopes moments like this can help people understand the harm of blackface.

He writes: “It is my hope that these regrettable actions can be turned into teachable moments.”

He doesn’t mention Herring by name.


7:25 a.m.

Virginia’s House Democrats have followed the state’s Legislative Black Caucus in not calling for resignations of the lieutenant governor or attorney general after insisting that the governor must go.

The Democrats’ statement says they take the issues and allegations facing Virginia’s top three elected officials seriously and they’ll be taking the pulse of their constituents over the weekend.

If Gov. Ralph Northam, Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring all resign, Republican House Speaker Kirk Cox would be in charge.

Northam and Herring are struggling to affirm their respect for African-Americans after acknowledging they wore blackface once decades ago. A woman says Fairfax’s possible promotion compelled her to publicly accuse him of sexually assaulting her 15 years ago in an encounter Fairfax says was consensual.

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