Money could be the eye-opener that Virginia Democrats needed to finally realize that Gov. Ralph Northam’s blackface scandal could harm their political future.
Northam canceled a political fundraiser on Sunday for a state lawmaker after people demonstrated against him at the event, the Washington Post reported. The governor, who has so far dodged serious political backlash, faced an unlikely tag team of protesters: Local NAACP members and the state Republican Party. His spokeswoman said the decision to cancel the Democratic fundraiser was over “concerns for the safety and security of everyone in attendance.”
One can’t help but feel that he also feared negative media coverage and the possibility of re-igniting more protests.
The fundraising event was for Democratic state Sen. David W. Marsden who is up for re-election. The cancellation likely caused serious concern for the party because state lawmakers usually depend on governors to help them raise cash, the Post noted.
All 140 seats in the state legislature are up for grabs this year, and the Democrats are eager to take control after the GOP won a slim victory for the Virginia House of Delegates in 2017, literally by pulling a name out of a bowl.
On Feb. 1, the 59-year-old Northam apologized for appearing in a photograph of a person dressed in blackface and another person in a Ku Klux Klan robe from his 1984 medical school yearbook. One day later, at a bizarre press conference, the governor denied that he was one of those people in the picture but admitted to applying black shoe polish to his face for a Michael Jackson dance competition.
There has been little pressure to hold Northam’s feet to the flame. After the scandal broke, there was widespread demand for him to resign, but that storm seems to have passed, with Democrats backpedaling on their initial outrage.
Virginia Sen. Mark Warner, a Democrat who was one of Northam’s early critics, is among those who have had a change of heart and wants to give the governor a second chance. At the same time, Black Virginians were still supporting him.
It appears that the only way Northam can help raise funds for party candidates is to hold events under the cover of darkness. No Northam protesters showed up at a fundraiser on Wednesday for Del. Betsy Carr that was not publicized.