Speed Reads

another one bites the dust

Virginia's top Republican now has a blackface yearbook scandal

Senator Tommy Norment.

Scandals aren't just for Virginia Democrats anymore.

After a blackface photo was revealed to be on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam's (D) yearbook page, and after Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) was accused of sexual assault, the state's Attorney General Mark Herring (D) admitted he too wore blackface in college. And now, it seems the state's top Republican, state Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, was in charge of a college yearbook similarly packed with racism, The Virginian-Pilot reports.

Norment attended the Virginia Military Institute and was the managing editor of its 1968 yearbook, which was published just before VMI's first black students were allowed to enroll that fall. The Pilot didn't find any explicit racist behavior from Norment on those pages. But there are several pictures of students in blackface inside, along with at least one use of the n-word and other anti-Asian and anti-Semitic slurs. When asked about the yearbook Thursday, Norment said "the only thing I'm talking about today is the budget."

Northam also attended VMI, and a yearbook from his time at the school listed one of his nicknames as "Coonman." Northam has not addressed that nickname, but has said he is not one of men in blackface or Ku Klux Klan robes on his medical school yearbook page, and has refused calls to resign. Fairfax has said the alleged 2004 sexual assault was "consensual."

Norment isn't in line for the Virginia governorship; If Northam, Fairfax, and Herring all step aside, House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox (R) will become governor. Cox literally got his speaker job thanks to a coin toss, and if it turns out he did something unsavory and resigns himself, the House of Delegates will have to pick a new governor.