There may be more changes in the sequence that involves three of Virginia’s top government officials in a shaky timeline.
The political turmoil for Democratic leaders is still unfolding at an intersection of race and gender.
Gov. Ralph Northam (D) has been asked to step down by many people in Virginia and all across the nation.
After emergence of a photo on his 1984 medical school yearbook page depicting people in blackface and Ku Klux Klan garb, African Americans said by a wide margin, that he should remain in office, despite the offensive image, according to a Washington Post-Schar School poll.
Northam counts higher support among black residents — who say he should remain in office by a margin of 58% to 37% — than among whites, who are more evenly divided.
Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) is facing one woman’s allegation that he assaulted her.
Then, on Friday, a Maryland woman, said he had raped her when they were students at Duke University.
On Feb. 6, came an admission by state attorney general Mark Herring, (D) who is third in line for succession, that he had darkened his face to look like a black rapper at a college party in 1980.
If all three tainted Democrats resign, then the next in line as governor would be the speaker of the House of Delegates, Republican Kirk Cox.
The Commonwealth of Virginia has been shaken by the triple accusations.
If Democrats do not oust Fairfax, an African-American, at a time when the party has taken a zero-tolerance stand on sexual misconduct in the #MeToo era, they could anger female voters.
The specter of Fairfax, 39, being pushed out while two older white men remain in office — despite blackface behavior that evokes some of the country’s most painful racist images — would deeply trouble many African Americans.
On Saturday, an adviser to Fairfax said the lieutenant governor was deeply distraught over the allegations and had no intention of resigning.
Almost all of Virginia’s Democratic leaders and lawmakers on Friday night called for Fairfax to resign and a legislator vowed to introduce articles of impeachment if Fairfax did not quit by Monday.
Gov. Northam also insists he will not resign. He does not face an imminent impeachment threat and neither does Herring, the attorney general and second in line to the governor, who has been effusively apologizing for once wearing blackface.
Virginians are deadlocked over whether Northam should step down.
On Feb. 1, Northam apologized for being in the yearbook photo that showed one person in blackface and another in KKK garb. He reversed course on Saturday, Feb, 2, saying he wasn’t in the photo.
The Virginia Republican party called on Herring to resign, citing Herring’s own call for Northam to step down.
“Like we have had to say too many times this week racism has no place in Virginia and dressing up in blackface is wholly unacceptable,” Jack Wilson, the state Republican Party chairman, said in a statement.
It’s a puzzling political crisis with no easy solutions.