U.S. President Donald Trump predicted Thursday the chaos engulfing the top three officials in Virginia, all Democrats, will help him recapture the coastal Atlantic state when he runs for re-election in 2020.
"Democrats at the top are killing the Great State of Virginia," Trump said on Twitter, saying, "If the three failing pols were Republicans, far stronger action would be taken. Virginia will come back HOME Republican) in 2020!"
Democrats at the top are killing the Great State of Virginia. If the three failing pols were Republicans, far stronger action would be taken. Virginia will come back HOME Republican) in 2020!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 7, 2019
Trump, even as he won the White House in the 2016 election, lost Virginia to Democrat Hillary Clinton and the state in recent years has moved toward electing Democrats in state-wide elections. Republicans, however, still maintain narrow control of both houses of the state legislature, whose members are elected in smaller geographical districts.
The political crisis in Virginia deepened Wednesday with charges against two more top leaders, even as Governor Ralph Northam's career was already in jeopardy over a racist photo.
State Attorney General Mark Herring admitted to smearing his face with brown makeup to impersonate an African-American rapper at a party when he was a 19-year-old University of Virginia student.
"That conduct clearly shows that as a young man, I had a callous and inexcusable lack of awareness and sensitivity to the pain my behavior could inflict on others," he said.
Herring said he is "deeply, deeply sorry," but added that his actions 40 years ago "is in no way reflective of the man I have become."
He said his discussions in the coming days will "make it clear" if he should resign.
Herring had demanded Northam quit after his 1984 medical school yearbook page surfaced last week, showing a picture of two men — one in heavy blackface and the other wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood that is synonymous with the hate group.
The governor initially said he was one of the two men, then denied it a day later. But he did admit wearing dark shoe polish on his face to imitate pop singer Michael Jackson while he was in the Army in 1984.
Meanwhile, the No. 2 official in the state — Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax — is facing allegations of sexual assault.
Political scientist Vanessa Tyson presented details Wednesday of her charges that Fairfax sexually assaulted her in a hotel room during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston.
Fairfax does not deny a relationship with Tyson, but says he did not force himself on her.
"At no time did she express to me any discomfort or concern about our interactions, neither during that encounter, not during the months following it, when she stayed in touch with me, nor the past 15 years," he said.
Fairfax calls himself a victim of a political smear. But Tyson denies politics has anything to do with it, saying she is a Democrat, like Fairfax.
If all three men are pressured to resign, the Republican Speaker of the House of Delegates, Kirk Cox, would become governor, taking the state leadership away from the Democrats.