Perez’s and McAuliffe’s remarks on Sunday suggest that Democratic leaders are coming around to accepting the status quo in Richmond. It leaves the party in a position to still claim the moral high ground on issues of race and gender, having denounced Northam, Fairfax and Herring, without handing the governorship to the Republican speaker of the state House, who would be next in line if the three top Democrats all resigned. Conservatives question whether the Democrats actually possess the high ground, asking what aside from party affiliation distinguishes Fairfax’s situation from that of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
National party leaders are not the only ones who have become quieted, for now. The chairman of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, who had urged both Northam and Fairfax to resign, showed an openness to meet with Northam if he will help advance the caucus’s priorities. “My caucus, I can tell you, they’re fired up to get this stuff done,” Delegate Lamont Bagby said last week. The Associated Press also reported that a group of black pastors and community leaders announced their forgiveness for Northam, who tried to work on typical state business such as budget negotiations. The governor also received steady support from local donors and others from the fraternity of Virginia Military Institute alumni, as the Washington Post reported over the weekend. Meanwhile, although Fairfax faced setbacks including the departure of top aides, the state delegate who had promised to start impeachment proceedings backed down. The current legislative session ends Saturday, offering the embattled leaders time to recover.