Sometimes there are incredible stories that come out, that when you see them you think, “Did that person really say that?”

Such was the case for me Friday when I read the news that embattled Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) told reporters he was seriously considering a 2021 gubernatorial run—because the two sexual assault allegations leveled against him earlier this year had raised his profile.

Surely he didn’t really suggest that being accused of forcing himself on two women had helped his standing with voters?

As it turns out, that’s exactly what he did, as the Richmond Times-Dispatch reported yesterday:

Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax said Thursday that he is “very hopeful about the future” and “thinking very seriously” about a gubernatorial run in 2021.

Fairfax, who faces sexual assault allegations by two women, said the scandal has raised his public profile for good.

“Many people a year ago would not have recognized me, now they really do,” Fairfax said. “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’s comments came during a roundtable with reporters to talk about his recent trip to England, where he traced familial ties with an English family that freed his great-great-great grandfather from slavery in Northern Virginia.

In early February, Scripps College associate professor Vanessa Tyson accused Fairfax of forcing her to perform oral sex on him during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. Tyson said in a statement that “what began as consensual kissing quickly turned into a sexual assault.” Fairfax countered Tyson’s account, saying what happened was consensual.

Just days later, Meredith Watson came forward and alleged Fairfax raped her in 2000 when they both were students at Duke University. Fairfax, in turn, claimed that encounter, too, was consensual.

The allegations against Fairfax came directly on the heels of the blackface controversies involving Gov. Ralph Northam and state AG Mark Herring, scandals that, for a short time, rocked the state of Virginia, the Democratic party, and the nation.

Tyson said in her statement that reports Northam might step down and Fairfax take his place were the motivating factor for her to go public with her story.

Ultimately, Northam did not step down in the aftermath of admitting and then retracting his admission that he wore blackface in an offensive yearbook picture. During a bizarre presser, he did say he wore Michael Jackson blackface during a dance contest in the early 80s:

In the months since the scandals broke, Northam, Herring, and Fairfax have largely weathered the storms by way of what can best be described as Democrat privilege, where Democrats are allowed to get away with things Republicans would not be.

But unlike in Northam’s and Herring’s cases, Fairfax’s situation obviously involved serious criminal allegations that were not going to go away quietly. In an ironic twist, Dr. Tyson retained the legal services of the attorneys who represented Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. Lt. Gov. Fairfax is reportedly being represented by the lawyers who represented then-Judge Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation hearings.

In addition to wanting to face Fairfax in court, Tyson’s accusers have also called for the Virginia state legislature to investigate and hold public hearings. But, per the Times-Dispatch, “Fairfax and Democrats in the General Assembly have sought to block efforts by Republicans to hold the hearing, claiming partisan antics and arguing in favor of law enforcement investigations.”

It’s clear Virginia Republicans want to hold Fairfax to what some people call the “Kavanaugh standard” whereby allegations of criminal wrongdoing are given the show-trial treatment in front of politicians rather than a court of law. After all, these are the left’s rules, and Republicans have let it be known that if that’s how Democrats want to roll on these types of issues then they will oblige them.

On the other hand, Virginia Democrats have tried to flip flop on the Kavanaugh standard set by the national party, saying it’s not right to punish the accused without giving them a fair trial first. While they’re right about prejudging the accused, Republicans know it’s an inconsistent standard Democrats will ignore when the shoe is on the other foot.

Five months after the allegations were made, Fairfax’s attorneys demanded investigations into Tyson’s and Watson’s claims:

Lawyers for Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax have sent letters to prosecutors in three states asking them to open a criminal investigation into sexual assault allegations against him.

In copies of the letter obtained Wednesday by news outlets, Fairfax’s lawyers asked district attorney’s offices in Virginia, Massachusetts and North Carolina to investigate “public and serious criminal” allegations made against Fairfax. He has denied the allegations and says any investigations will find no wrongdoing.

From this, we can glean that it’s clear Fairfax is being proactive going forward and is not going to take any of this sitting down. While that’s smart on his part, he might want to tamp down on suggesting that these sexual assault allegations have helped elevate his standing with voters, at least until the investigations conclude.

If they end up concluding Fairfax is guilty of wrongdoing, the backlash in the court of public opinion both statewide and nationally could make what happened in February seem like a Sunday afternoon picnic in the park by comparison.

— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —

 
 
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