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Capitol Square Diary:
Lingering Affects
By Stephen J. Rossie

Richmond – While the 2019 General Assembly may have adjourned sine die three weeks ago, the ramifications of this session may be far reaching. It was a session of unprecedented controversy within the executive branch and one of almost daily protests — and that was before the Northam-Fairfax-Herring news.

You know it’s an atypical year when you see capitol police officers you have never seen before deployed around Capitol Square on a daily basis and the director of the Department of General Services, which manages Capitol Square, Joe D’Amico, himself perusing the park-like grounds supervising personnel. But protestor in favor of the so-called ERA, many of whom were imported out-of-state professional organizers and agitators, assembled each day, sometimes politely, frequently rudely and occasionally bizarrely, such as when one woman posed as the goddess Virtue, seen on the commonwealth’s flag standing over a vanquished tyrant, complete with fully exposed breast.

An entirely different set of daily protests evolved immediately when the blackface news about Governor Ralph Northam broke, not to mention the news about fellow Democrats Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax and Attorney General Mark Herring. But it wasn’t all about their scandals.

Northam’s infamous comments, while defending a bill by Delegate Kathy Tran (DFairfax) that would have allowed abortion on demand up to the moment before birth, that a newborn could be left to die, kicked off Virginia’s repulsively embarrassing month of national news coverage. It prompted a massive pro-life rally on the South Portico which also drew national media and which will prolong into a March for Life on April 3 throughout downtown Richmond to the front of the Governor’s Mansion.

That rally featured several speakers, most interestingly E.W. Jackson, a black Republican who was Northam’s opponent in the 2013 campaign for lieutenant governor. Northam notoriously refused to shake Jackson’s hand in their only televised debate, a fact that Jackson emphatically reminded the crowd within ear shot of the governor’s residence, and suggested what the infanticide governor now could do with his hand.

While laying low publicly since February 1, Northam hasn’t ceased working behind the scenes, continuing to precipitate tremors within his party. The most recent was his recruitment of one-term Delegate Debra Rodman (D-Henrico County) to abandon her re-election in order to challenge Senator Siobhan Dunnavant (R-Henrico County).

This has this thrown Henrico Democrats unnecessarily off balance — Rodman was facing a serious challenge from Republican Mary Margaret Kastelberg in a GOP leaning district that Rodman stumbled into winning in 2017. Worse, it crowds a Democrat field that already featured two minority contenders. Not a good look for a governor fighting off still more revelations and reminders about his past, including removing Fairfax from a state Democrat brochure in 2017 and the rumor that it was Northam’s team that unearthed the sexual assault allegations against Fairfax.

Virginia tourism officials in January began celebrating the 50th anniversary of the iconic Virginia is for Lovers slogan, which wasn’t only overshadowed, but virtually negated by Northam, Fairfax and Herring. It may take until the slogan’s centennial celebration to ameliorate Virginia’s newfound reputation as New Jersey- South.


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