Scandals unravel Virginia leadership

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RICHMOND, Va. — Virginia’s state government seemed to come unglued Friday as an embattled Gov. Ralph Northam made it clear he won’t resign and the man in line to succeed him was hit with another sexual assault accusation and barraged with demands that he steps down, too.

Top Democrats, including a number of presidential hopefuls and most of Virginia’s congressional delegation, swiftly and decisively turned against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who stands to become the state’s second black governor if Northam quits.

This, after a woman came forward with a statement accusing Fairfax of attacking her when they were students at Duke University in North Carolina in 2000.

The Associated Press is not reporting the details because the allegation has not been corroborated.

“Fairfax can no longer fulfill his duties,” the Democratic caucuses of both the state House and Senate said in a joint statement.

Fairfax emphatically denied the new allegation, as he did the first one, leveled earlier this week by Vanessa Tyson, a California college professor who said Fairfax forced her to perform oral sex on him at a Boston hotel in 2004.

“It is obvious that a vicious and coordinated smear campaign is being orchestrated against me,” Fairfax said.

The developments came at the end of an astonishing week that saw all three of Virginia’s top elected officials — all Democrats — embroiled in potentially career-ending scandals fraught with questions of race, sex and power.

Northam, who is a year into his four-year term, announced his intention to stay at an afternoon Cabinet meeting.

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