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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.

Go deeper

47 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Biden plan expected to include at least $500B for climate

Photo: Stephanie Keith/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The White House is privately telling lawmakers the climate portion of President Biden's roughly $2 trillion social spending plan is "mostly settled" and will likely cost more than $500 billion, two sources familiar with the talks tell Axios.

Why it matters: A pricetag of $500-555 billion is a huge number and, if it holds, would likely be the single biggest component of the sweeping package. It also isn't far off from the roughly $600 billion proposed when the bill was expected to cost $3.5 trillion.

54 mins ago - World

U.S. presses Gulf countries to help resolve Sudan coup crisis

Jake Sullivan briefs the press. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty

The Biden administration has asked its partners in the Gulf and elsewhere to press the Sudanese generals who carried out a coup on Monday to release captives including Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and to reinstate the civilian government, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The U.S. has limited influence over coup leader Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Burhan and other military leaders, many of whom have close ties to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Higher prices are the new norm, with no end in sight

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Companies are making money at record rates thanks in part to customers who are willing to pay higher prices.

Why it matters: In order to keeping that corporate profitability streak going, shoppers should expect sticker prices to stay high or become more expensive well into 2022. Fewer promotions and shallower discounts will also become the norm as inventory levels remain low.