A look back at the biggest political events of 2019
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Politics is a hot topic every year. But in 2019, political developments in Virginia and the nation drew the world's attention.
The year began quietly in Virginia, until February first. Governor Northam (D-Virginia) first admitted, then recanted, appearing in a racist photo on his medical school yearbook page.
“In the hours since I made that statement yesterday, I reflected with my family and classmates from that time and affirmed my conclusion that I am not the person in that photo,” Northam said at a nationally covered press conference at the Governor’s Mansion.
In the coming days and weeks, two women accused Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax (D-Virginia) of sexual assault in 2000 and 2004.
“You can’t fight back because you may lack the kind of credibility that comes up so often in the ‘Me Too’ movement,” said accuser Dr. Vanessa Tyson, speaking at a Stanford University forum on sexual assault.
“The allegation is completely false," said Lt. Governor Fairfax at a press conference after the first allegation surfaced. He has publicly refuted both allegations, and sued CBS News for airing interviews with the accusers.
Also in February, Attorney General Mark Herring (D-Virginia) admitted that he, too, wore blackface in college. Protestors, the public, and politicians on both sides of the aisle called for all three officials to resign. None did.
Instead, Northam pledged a new focus on helping the African American community. And Herring and Fairfax may both still run for Governor in 2021.
“I am running for Governor in 2021,” said Fairfax to a reporter following his announcement at a speaking engagement on December 18.
On May 31st, twelve people were killed in a shooting at the Virginia Beach municipal building. Governor Northam called a Special Session for July to pass new gun control laws. But Republicans ended the Session shortly after it began, sending all the proposed bills to the Virginia Crime Commission for study and rescheduled the Session for after the election.
“We’re going to send the bills from both sides to the crime commission,” said House Speaker Kirk Cox (R - Colonial Heights) at a press conference after cancelling the Session.
“To abandon our responsibility when we had an opportunity to pass bills that would save lives, I’m just incredulous," said Minority Leader Delegate Eileen Filler-Corn (D-Fairfax) in response to the move.
But the rescheduled Session was soon cancelled after the November 5th election resulted in another Blue Wave. Democrats won control of Virginia’s House and Senate and elected the first woman, Eileen Filler-Corn, as House Speaker Designee.
Since the election, and as gun rights supporters fear gun control measures will pass in 2020, 86 Virginia localities have passed Second Amendment Sanctuary resolutions.
In National politics, the field of 26 Democrats vying for the Presidential nomination eventually filtered down to 15.
On December 18th, the House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump after he withheld military aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate his rival, former Vice-President Joe Biden.
“If we do not act now, we would be derelict in our duty,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) on the House floor.
The vote made Trump the third U.S. President to be impeached.
“I don’t feel like I’m being impeached because it’s a hoax. It’s a set up,” said President Trump in the Oval Office.
Congress and the Virginia General Assembly convene again next week.
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