Fairfax Campaign Overcomes Adversity Within Party

With Democratic heavyweights such as Barack Obama and Joe Biden already hosting events for Justin Fairfax, candidate for Virginia lieutenant governor, it appears the longtime D.C. resident has a clear path to victory on Election Night, Nov. 7.

And while more campaign events are scheduled that could see appearances by top Democrats such as former Attorney General Eric Holder and Sens. Kamala Harris and Tim Kaine, Fairfax remains in position to become Virginia’s second black lieutenant governor and just the 17th in the nation.

“Justin will be spending the final days before the election covering the Commonwealth and sharing the importance of getting out to vote,” a campaign official said.

The latest poll from Wason Center for Public Policy at Christopher Newport University shows Fairfax — who grew up along North Capitol and Evarts Streets — leading Republican Jill Vogel, 47 percent to 44 percent.

The Ivy League graduate and former assistant U.S. attorney and federal law clerk has remained steadfast even in the face of remarks many perceived as racist from Vogel.

Most recently, Fairfax has had to respond to questionable actions by Democratic Gov. candidate Ralph Northam, a perceived ally.

The Northam campaign printed thousands of fliers that omitted reference to Fairfax at the request of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, according to the Richmond Times Dispatch. The labor union, a financial backer of Northam’s campaign, requested a flier without Fairfax on it because the group had not endorsed him, according to a spokesman.

Fairfax does not support two controversial natural gas pipelines that have the backing of the union.

The Fairfax-free flier looked similar to one that previously included him, Northam and Attorney General Mark Herring. When compared side by side, the discrepancy led to questions about why Fairfax was removed.

“This was a poor decision, which shouldn’t have happened, and we need to make sure this doesn’t happen again,” the Fairfax campaign said in a statement. “People who are canvassing for the coordinated campaign should be carrying [literature] for the entire ticket. I’ve heard that they’ve pulled the lit and it won’t be used. Sadly, this issue detracts from what we should be focused on which is getting our base, especially our African-American base in Virginia, excited about this election so that they come out to vote.”

However, Fairfax continues to enjoy the support of the AFL-CIO. Last week, a District-based political action committee pledged to reach out to 200,000 African-American voters in Virginia to promote him.

Quentin James, co-founder of the political action committee The Collective, which supports progressive black candidates nationally, told the Richmond Times Dispatch that Northam’s flier leaving out Fairfax hurts the ability of the entire ticket to turn out votes and win, because African-Americans are such an important voting block for the Democrats and promoting a black candidate to black voters drives up turnout.

“Why would it at all be questioned or even an option for you to consider dropping the black candidate from the piece when that is actually counter to helping turn out black voters who are a key constituency?” James said. “They saw him as disposable when he was actually critical to their ability to win.”

The PAC hopes to spend about $50,000 and use volunteers to reach out to African-American voters in Virginia on behalf of Fairfax.

“Candidates disagree on issues all the time, but after primaries are fought, it is traditionally accepted that efforts to elect Democrats should help all Democrats on the ticket,” a news release from The Collective stated. “While we might not be able to stop subtle racism in 20 days, we can surely help Justin win this election.”

In an earlier interview with The Washington Informer, Fairfax said activism is as important today as ever.

“We see examples of why it resonates right now in Virginia’s statewide races,” Fairfax said. “The current Republican nominee for governor, Ed Gillespie, has run a spate of ads vilifying immigrants as dangerous and violent. As long as you have those who would brand immigrants to violence and crime there will be a need for activists to speak out,” he said, adding that even some conservatives have acknowledged the racial bias in America’s justice system.”

Through it all, Fairfax remains focused.

“I think it’s important to have a perspective on issues that includes those who have actually had to struggle to get from point A to point B on the income ladder,” he said. “I believe my work as a prosecutors, as an assistant U.S. attorney, positions me to understand some of the issues people face on both sides of the justice system.”

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Stacy M. Brown

I’ve worked for the Daily News of Los Angeles, the L.A. Times, Gannet and the Times-Tribune and have contributed to the Pocono Record, the New York Post and the New York Times. Television news opportunities have included: NBC, MSNBC, Scarborough Country, the Abrams Report, Today, Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News, Imus in the Morning and Anderson Cooper 360. Radio programs like the Wendy Williams Experience, Tom Joyner Morning Show and the Howard Stern Show have also provided me the chance to share my views.

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