Embattled Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax is mulling a run for the state's highest office, and says the attention he has received over the sexual assault allegations against him has helped raise his profile.
What are the details?
Fairfax has been embroiled in a scandal for months, after two women came forward earlier this year and accused him of sexual assault in separate incidents — one in Massachusetts, another in North Carolina — several years ago. The lieutenant governor has vehemently denied the claims, and has compared himself to victims of "terror lynchings" amid calls for him to resign.
Last week, WUSA-TV reporter Bruce Leshan caught up with Fairfax to inquire about his future political plans.
"You're not ruling out a run for governor?" Leshan asked.
"No, of course not," Fairfax responded.
Leshan pressed, "And you think you would have a chance?"
To which Fairfax replied, "Oh, absolutely. Absolutely,"
"Our support has intensified, because people see the politics behind this," he said, referring to the accusations made against him.
Fairfax sat down with a pool of reporters on Thursday, reiterating his optimism for his political career and saying the sexual assault claims have actually boosted his public profile.
"Many people a year ago would not have recognized me, now they really do," Fairfax said, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch. "People come up to me at gas stations, they say, 'Hey, we recognize you. We love you. We know what they are saying about you is false.'"
The lieutenant governor added, "I'm very hopeful about the future. We've gotten a lot of encouragement about future political steps. I'm thinking very seriously about 2021."
Fairfax appeared close to taking over as governor of Virginia in February when current Gov. Ralph Northam faced calls even from fellow Democrats to resign after purportedly being pictured wearing blackface in a college yearbook. Fairfax's accusers came forward shortly thereafter. Neither politician has stepped down.
In recent days, an attorney for Fairfax asked prosecutors in Massachusetts and North Carolina to launch investigations into the claims made by his accusers, The Washington Post reported.
Meanwhile, according to the Star Tribune, House Republicans in Virginia are calling for a hearing to be held by lawmakers on the allegations against Fairfax.