After being embroiled in ugly accusations over the last year surrounding a sex scandal, Virginia’s Lieutenant Gov. Justin Fairfax has reportedly announced that he intends to launch his own gubernatorial bid.
“I’ve listened to the people…and I am planning to run for Governor in 2021,” WAVY-TV reporter Andy Fox said Fairfax told him during an interview on Thursday morning.
Fairfax was thrust into the national spotlight for all the wrong reasons following a racial scandal involving Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam on the first day of Black History Month this past February. Damning photos purportedly showing Northam in blackface compelled many news outlets to predict his resignation and ultimate replacement by Fairfax, which would have made him the commonwealth’s second Black governor ever.
But literally overnight, calls for Northam to step down were eclipsed by the news that two women had accused Fairfax of sexual assault, including one woman who said the lieutenant governor raped her when they were college students nearly two decades ago. The development immediately took negative attention away from Northam and placed a scandalous spotlight squarely on Fairfax, who has maintained his innocence and determination to clear his name.
The accusations never resulted in any criminal charges and have seemingly fizzled out nearly a year later, likely helping to prompt Fairfax’s decision to seek the higher office. Fairfax said he has “listened to the people,” so he must know something the rest of us don’t.
Virginia House Democrats lauded the accusers — Meredith Watson and Vanessa Tyson — while threatening to impeach Fairfax. Watson publicly accused Fairfax of raping her when they were in college together in 2000. She alleged the incident took place while they were students at Duke University. Watson’s claim came less than a week after Tyson said Fairfax forced her to give him oral sex during the summer of 2004 in Boston.
On top of that, a poll released in late February found that most Americans thought Fairfax was guilty.
Despite that adversity, Fairfax has gone above and beyond the call of duty to back up his claims of innocence. He has taken lie detector test and most recently sued CBS over Gayle King’s interview with his accusers. The lawsuit claimed in part that the network “recklessly disregarded whether what Watson and Tyson were saying was, in fact, true” and that Fairfax “filed this lawsuit so that he can fight these allegations in a court of law, with the protections of due process, and on a level playing field.”
Fairfax has also demanded criminal investigations from law enforcement in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, and Durham County, North Carolina. He also requested in June to testify under oath and asked for the same of his accusers.
Democrats previously appeared to be isolating Fairfax, like when the Democratic Party of Virginia rejected a $2,500 donation from Fairfax in April. At the time, Fairfax’s spokeswoman Lauren Burke said the party was treating him unfairly even though he was never charged with a crime.
“He is innocent and has passed two polygraphs and repeatedly called for an investigation,” Burke stated. “This is beyond comprehension for a state party claiming dedication ‘to the preservation of all the rights enumerated in Article One of the Constitution of Virginia.’ That Article, of course, provides for due process of law. If the Lt. Governor can’t receive due process from his own party how can we assume the average Virginian can?”