Fairfax Scandal Could Soon Play a Role In General Assembly Campaigns

Oct 28, 2019

Credit AP Photo / Steve Helber

The sexual assault scandal surrounding Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax has now become part of the election campaign for the General Assembly this year.

Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax won’t be on the ballot this year. But every Democrat on the ballot faces the potential of being targeted as standing in the way of a Republican effort to have his accusers tell their stories to a legislative committee — a charge that’s now the focus of a Senate TV campaign ad in Northern Virginia.

Republican strategist Dan Scandling says that approach won’t work everywhere. 

“If you have a soft Republican district, probably not going to go there," says Scandling. "If you have a district that’s predominantly large number of women, probably not going to go there unless they are conservative women.”

Democratic strategist Ben Tribbett says he’s surprised Republicans haven’t already brought this up.

“It’s a potent issue, especially when you talk about with swing voters, people that are leaning Democratic right now are generally upper income white women," Tribbett says. "And you don’t find a lot of upper income white women in polling that agree at all with the Democrats’ approach to Justin Fairfax.”

So far, the sexual assault allegations have been mentioned in a few pieces of direct mail and in a TV ad for a hotly contested Senate race in Loudoun County. The closing days of the campaign might see Republicans increasingly using this argument in competitive races across Virginia.

Fairfax has repeatedly denied the allegations and says he has corroborating evidence.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.