A spokeswoman for Virginia lieutenant governor Justin Fairfax confirmed Thursday that Fairfax plans to run for governor in 2021 despite two outstanding sexual assault allegations.
Fairfax apparently did not intend to make an announcement, but ended up revealing his plan this week while addressing the Petersburg TRIAD, a coalition advocating for the protection of seniors’ rights.
“I used to tell my grandparents things I wouldn’t tell anybody else because I trusted them and I confided in them, and I feel like that’s sort of what steered us here today,” Fairfax said at the event on Tuesday. “I’m telling you all something because I feel that kinship and that love. I’m going to be planning to run for governor in 2021 and I love you all.”
“He got comfortable, and here we are,” spokeswoman Lauren Burke said Thursday, after Fairfax’s office tried to clarify after the event that his comments were not an “official” announcement. Burke added it was unclear when Fairfax would officially file, but likely after the Virginia General Assembly ends its next session in March of next year.
Fairfax was accused of sexual assault in February by two women, allegations that the lieutenant governor vehemently denied and suggested were a “smear” meant to halt his political career.
Fairfax was widely expected to assume the governorship after a photo from Ralhp Northam’s yearbook emerged showing a man in blackface next to a man in a Ku Klux Klan uniform, but Northam never resigned and instead dedicated himself to racial reconciliation. Earlier this month, Northam pledged to repeal all racially discriminatory language in Virginia law.
Fairfax filed a defamation suit against CBS in September, seeking $400 million in damages after the network’s aired interviews with the women who accused him of sexual assault in April.