Politics

Fairfax Considers Run For Governor After Rape Accusations Make Him More Recognizable

REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein

Virginia Kruta Associate Editor

Democratic Virginia Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax said he would consider a run for governor, claiming that recent scandals led to a rise in popularity.

The embattled politician, who earlier this year faced accusations of sexual misconduct from two women he knew decades earlier, made the comments at a roundtable discussion with reporters following his recent trip to England to meet the descendants of the family who freed his ancestors from slavery.

“Many people a year ago would not have recognized me, now they really do,” Fairfax explained. “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.'”

The lieutenant governor had kept a relatively low profile until a scandal involving yearbook photos, blackface and a KKK hood enveloped Democratic Virginia Governor Ralph Northam. When it began to look as though Fairfax might be called upon to take Northam’s place as governor, the accusations against him surfaced.

Both Northam and Fairfax refused numerous calls for their resignations when the stories first broke. (RELATED: Virginia Republicans Plan Hearings Into Sexual Assault Allegations Against Justin Fairfax)

The two women who accused Fairfax, Meredith Watson and Vanessa Tyson, provided detailed accounts to back up their claims. Tyson, a professor who now lives in California, said that she was forced to perform oral sex on Fairfax while they were at the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. Watson claimed that Fairfax had raped her while they were both students at Duke University in 2000.

Fairfax has argued from the beginning that the accusations were false, and he said that recent encounters with his constituents have led him to believe that many of them feel the same way. He added that he feels “very hopeful about the future.”