BREAKING NEWS

Top Virginia Democrats imperiled by blackface, sex assault scandals

RICHMOND, Va., Feb 6 (Reuters) - The political crisis in Virginia deepened on Wednesday when the attorney general admitted to wearing blackface in the 1980s at a college party, becoming the state's third high-ranking Democrat caught up in scandal.
Governor Ralph Northam was already fighting for his political life over a racist photo from his 1984 medical school yearbook that emerged last week, and the lieutenant governor sought on Wednesday to fend off allegations of sexual misconduct.
Attorney General Mark Herring, 57, who has expressed gubernatorial ambitions and called four days ago for Northam to resign, admitted in a statement he donned brown face paint at a party in 1980 to impersonate a rapper.
Northam, 59, acknowledged last weekend to having worn blackface - a practice dating to 19th century minstrel shows caricaturing slaves - in 1984 to impersonate Michael Jackson.
His admission came after a conservative media website published a photo on Friday from Northam's page in his 1984 medical school year book showing one man wearing blackface beside another masked figure in robes of the white supremacist group the Ku Klux Klan.
After initially saying he was one of the two depicted in the photo, Northam changed his story and said neither was him.
A separate scandal engulfing Democratic Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, 39, who is black and would succeed Northam were he to step down, intensified on Wednesday when a woman accused him of sexually assaulting her at the Democratic National Convention in 2004.
Herring, who like Northam is white, is second in line to succeed the governor as attorney general.
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