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Democrats in Virginia are hearing mixed messages from current and former leaders in the Democratic Party ahead of Super Tuesday. On one hand, they hear from former Governor Terry McAuliffe that following Biden’s big win in South Carolina on Saturday, the powerful Democrat is endorsing the former Vice President for the Democratic nomination.
Biden rewarded McAuliffe by saying he’s not only a former governor, but also the future governor. The state constitution prohibits governors from running for consecutive terms, but does not bar them from running with at least a one-term gap from the last time they were governor. McAuliffe has indicated when current Governor Ralph Northam completes his term in 2022, the former governor will try for his old seat.
Joe Biden just referred to Terry McAuliffe as “the once and future governor of Virginia.”
— Justin Mattingly (@jmattingly306) March 2, 2020
Not every Democrat is happy about this news, especially someone who hopes to run himself for the spot. That man is Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax who believes McAuliffe and his cronies helped orchestrate lawsuits charging sexual assault. Fairfax immediately pulled out the race card to attack McAuliffe and Biden.
.@JoeBiden, I’ve considered voting for you, but @TerryMcAuliffe & his self-acclaimed political “son” @LevarStoney orchestrated racist false allegations against the second Black LG of VA to try to stop my rise to Governor. Black people are tired of this routine. #Next400Years https://t.co/Eu3r1VjsU9
— Justin Fairfax (@FairfaxJustin) March 2, 2020
Biden polls highest nationally among Black voters, but in Virginia where the black vote is especially important for determining the Democratic nominee, losing the most powerful African-American currently in office is damaging. Fairfax was accused last year of raping two women, though no criminal charges were filed. Fairfax then sued CBS for their coverage of the rape allegations. A judge dismissed his lawsuit last month.
News that Mayor Pete Buttigieg is dropping out of the race ahead of Super Tuesday bodes well for Biden who will receive a good chunk of support that would have gone to the man who won the Iowa caucus. But Buttigieg’s base was not comprised of many Black voters, so Biden will have to hope news of Fairfax’s jab doesn’t go viral. Biden has been hovering around 2nd or 3rd place in Virginia polls, swapping places with Mike Bloomberg. Bernie Sanders still has a small lead and Buttigieg was 4th with just over 10%.
Losing the endorsement of a prominent Democrat in Virginia could hurt Biden in the state. While it likely won’t negate the McAuliffe endorsement entirely, Fairfax is popular in the Black community. Could it cost him a come-from-behind win in Virginia?
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