Virginia's Herring leaves Democratic Attorneys General Association co-chair position

Virginia's Herring leaves Democratic Attorneys General Association co-chair position
© Greg Nash

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring stepped down from his position at the Democratic Attorneys General Association (DAGA) on Wednesday, hours after admitting to reporters that he had worn blackface to a party years ago while in college.

In a statement, the group confirmed that Herring had offered to resign as co-chair and would be replaced by Washington D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine (D) as the association's interim co-chair.

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“AG Herring offered to step aside as co-chair this morning and the committee accepted," DAGA's statement reads. "At this time, District of Columbia AG Racine will be stepping back in as the interim co-chair to lead the Democratic Attorneys General Association along with current co-chair Oregon AG Ellen Rosenblum."

"We will continue to support our Democratic Attorneys General in their ongoing work protecting civil rights, keeping our communities and families safe and serving as the People’s Lawyers," the organization's statement continued.

Herring, who had previously announced plans to run for governor in 2021, admitted to wearing blackface to a college party on Wednesday. He earlier had called on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) to resign over a photo from his medical school yearbook page that surfaced on Friday showing an individual in blackface standing with someone wearing a KKK robe and hood.

“In 1980, when I was a 19-year old undergraduate in college, some friends suggested we attend a party dressed like rappers we listened to at the time, like Kurtis Blow, and perform a song,” Herring said in a statement Wednesday after meeting with the state's legislative black caucus.

“It sounds ridiculous even now writing it. But because of our ignorance and glib attitudes — and because we did not have an appreciation for the experiences and perspectives of others — we dressed up and put on wigs and brown makeup," he added

The state's lieutenant governor, Justin Fairfax (D), also faces a separate scandal surrounding allegations of sexual assault that emerged in the days following calls from Democrats for Northam's resignation.

Fairfax has denied the allegations, while calling for his accuser to be treated with respect.

“As a father, husband and public servant, he knows that sexual assault is a very serious matter and survivors of assault deserve to be heard,” Fairfax’s office said this week. “In this particular case, however, no amount of investigation will change the reality that he has not engaged in any such untoward actions.”

The three controversies have left Virginia's government in a state of turmoil.