Feb 6, 2019

Virginia's 3 highest ranking state officials all land in hot water

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (L), Gov. Ralph Northam (C) and Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax. Photos: Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post; Alex Edelman; Katherine Frey/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Virginia's three top ranking state officials — all Democrats — have each become embroiled in scandals over the course of the last week.

Catch up quick: Gov. Ralph Northam is facing calls for his resignation after a photo emerged on his 1984 medical school yearbook page featuring one person in blackface and another person in a KKK costume. Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is denying allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. And Attorney General Mark Herring admitted Wednesday that he dressed in blackface in 1980, but called it a "onetime occurrence."

Why it matters: If Northam were to step down, Fairfax would be next in line to succeed him, followed by Herring.

The intrigue: Next in the governorship's line of succession would be Kirk Cox, the speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates — a Republican.

  • During the 2018 midterms, the race for the 94th district of the House of Delegates was so close that after a recount and several legal challenges, it had to be determined by a random drawing, NBC News reports.
  • Republican incumbent David Yancey won the drawing, which — in addition to handing him the victory — gave Republicans the extra seat needed to maintain a narrow 51-49 majority.
  • Without the random drawing going in the GOP's favor, it's possible that Cox would not currently be serving as speaker.

The bottom line: As NBC's Alex Seitz-Wald points out, it's unlikely that all three of the state's top Democratic officials would resign at once and hand the governorship to a Republican. But even so, Virginia's Democrats are grappling with a trio of scandals with no apparent conclusion in sight, and it's not out of the question that a random drawing could come back to haunt them.

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Trump considers quarantine for states near epicenter of U.S. coronavirus outbreak

President Trump speaks to the press on March 28 in Washington, DC. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

President Trump said on Saturday he is considering a "short term" quarantine of New York, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut — areas congruent with the New York metro area, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus in the U.S.

Reality check: These states have already taken steps to quarantine residents and promote social distancing to combat COVID-19. The governors of New York and New Jersey issued statewide stay-at-home orders last week, and non-essential businesses in Connecticut were ordered to close as of this Monday.

New York is latest state to delay primary due to coronavirus

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New York — the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S. — has moved its presidential primary to June 23, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Saturday.

Why it matters: 23 other states and the District of Columbia haven't held primaries yet. The White House is recommending, for now, that Americans practice social distancing and gather in groups of no more than 10 people — while many states have issued stay-at-home orders.

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Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 640,589 — Total deaths: 29,848 — Total recoveries: 137,270.
  2. U.S.: Leads the world in cases. Total confirmed cases as of 2 p.m. ET: 112,468 — Total deaths: 1,841 — Total recoveries: 918.
  3. Federal government latest: President Trump is considering a quarantine on New York, parts of New Jersey and Connecticut. He signed a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus bill to give businesses and U.S. workers economic relief.
  4. State updates: A group of Midwestern swing voters that supported President Trump's handling of the coronavirus less than two weeks ago is balking at his call for the U.S. to be "opened up" by Easter. Alaska is latest state to issue stay-at-home order — New York is trying to nearly triple its hospital capacity in less than a month. New York moved its presidential primary to June 23, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Saturday.
  5. World updates: Italy reported 969 coronavirus deaths on Friday, the country's deadliest day. In Spain, over 1,300 people were confirmed dead between Thursday to Saturday.
  6. 🚀 Space updates: OneWeb filed for bankruptcy amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.
  7. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancing.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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