A Tale Of Two Governors
Is There A Silver Lining For The DMV in the Latest Twists In Virginia And Maryland Politics?
By Raoul Dennis
Here’s irony you can’t buy with good money.
While one governor within the DMV eyes a seemingly uphill battle within his party for the highest office in the land, another is fighting a seemingly uphill battle within his party just to keep his job.
Maryland Governor Larry Hogan clearly has the grit to make a play to challenge the president. He won the fight to become a Republican governor in a blue state. He has faced down cancer early in his administration and fought back to not only get back to work but to fight to win a second term. At a time when the president’s us vs. them brand of governing may be showing cracks in its armor, Hogan has the potential to grow momentum with his very different style that takes a more patient, coalition building approach. Certainly, significant portions of the Republican Party may well be ready to look at other options for leadership once it looks for ways to reconstruct itself from its currently shrinking base and to build for a viable future. The coming months will tell the tale: the more Mr. Trump draws extreme headlines and negative polling may be the wider the window opens for an alternative voice in the Republican party, a window that a primary challenger may just blow in through like a cool breeze.
And like a cool breeze, it would at least be a fresh angle to the conversation. That would be a good thing for the party and its future.
And then there are the fireworks at the governor’s offices in Virginia.
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is grasping at straws tethered to a bird’s nest over a cliff in a windstorm if he thinks his constituency – and the democratic party - will walk away from the blackface/Klansman photo controversy essentially because he says he can moonwalk. It won’t happen. It’s a problem that keeps snowballing because the governor can’t seem to come up with a straight, simple apology and explanation. His record suggests that his image of 30 years ago may differ from the man he is today. But instead of coming clean about the photos and relying on his record, he continues to scramble for cover under the ‘not me,’ ‘I dunno’ attitude you get from a four-year-old looking at the spilt milk when an adult walks into the room. Pathetic.
Enter Virginia Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax.
At 39, Fairfax has the right stuff to pick up the mantle in Virginia. He’s a metaphorical product of Virginia’s dual history – one white, one black. He’s smart and educated having received scholarships to Duke University, where he graduated with a degree in Public Policy Studies, and Columbia Law School (where he was selected for the Columbia Law Review). At the same time, his family tree dates back to the days of slavery within the commonwealth state: when he took his Oath of Office, Fairfax carried a copy of the manumission document that freed one of his ancestors from slavery in 1798. Today, Fairfax cast the tie-breaking vote there to expand Medicaid to 400,000 low-income adults, a key Democratic campaign promise. He champions civil rights and leans away from confederate celebrations: moves that reflect the contemporary position of the Democratic Party—and its future.
"If he becomes governor, he’ll combine the sunny, inclusive style of President Reagan and the hope and inspiration of President Obama,” said Neil H. MacBride former United States attorney to The New York Times Feb 2. MacBride hired and assigned Fairfax to help lead a sex trafficking task force in 2010.
It’s icing on the cake to know that if Northam does step down, Fairfax would assume office in time for his 40th birthday (Feb. 17)—making him one of the youngest governors in the nation.
It’s not lightly that Northam is asked to step down by his peers and voters: It’s not what anyone would have wished for in order to get Fairfax’ ascension. But the Democrats have to hold the line on zero-tolerance these days and the governor has to know that.
If nothing else, Hogan and Fairfax draw some positive possibilities from political heaps they find themselves in that otherwise seem stale and divisive.
Another little piece of irony that can’t be denied a little light: that a Democratic Party leader is on the verge of losing support of his African American base while a Republican Party leader may well stand on the shoulders of African Americans in his quest for contention in the race for the White House.
Good money and Hollywood couldn’t make this any more dramatic. But at this rate, all we have to do is wait til next week.