The Commonwealth of Virginia finds itself in uncharted waters, so to speak. Like most forms of government, Virginia's constitution includes a succession plan for leadership. The highest office in the commonwealth is, like other US states, the governor. In second place is the lieutenant governor, a position that most, but not all, states also have. Virginia starts to differ in its ways, by placing its attorney general as the third-highest office. The line goes on from there, but most have probably not considered it much.

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However, recent events have made Virginia's line of succession the center of attention. If enacted, the succession plans could have reverberating political effects.

Virginia's top three officials could soon resign

Democrat Ralph Northam was elected governor in 2017 after serving as lieutenant governor and in the Virginia Senate. A US Army veteran and pediatrician, many had boasted of his strong character. But more recently he has been facing a series of scandals. Already in trouble after horrifying comments on abortion, accusations of racist behavior in his past have surfaced.

Northam initially admitted his participation in a photo featuring people in 'blackface' makeup and a KKK outfit. He later denied his involvement but admitted he had used 'blackface' in the past to dress like Michael Jackson.

Attention was soon turned to Virginia's African-American lieutenant governor, former federal prosecutor Justin Fairfax. Many had commented on the possibility of an African-American ascending to the governorship due to a racial scandal. But that also quickly came into question.

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Disturbing allegations of sexual assault were brought against Fairfax. It could be impossible for Fairfax to govern with such accusations against him looming.

And so, attention turned to Attorney General Mark Herring. After serving in the Virginia Senate, he was elected attorney general in 2013. He had defeated Justin Fairfax in the Democratic primary. Herring had also called upon Northam to resign amidst the racism scandal. But Herring would soon admit that he had also worn blackface.

The three separate scandals could clear out all three.

Tensions have grown as others called out the Democratic Party's apparent hypocrisy. Their proclaimed platforms on racism and the treatment of women starkly contrast the given accusations. It's unlikely they would show the same patience to Republicans as they have to the three Democrats. It is worth noting, however, that the recent scandals haven't been limited to Democrats. The Virginia Senate majority leader, Republican Tommy Norment, has also become involved in a similar situation.

As the Washington Examiner reports, next in line to the governorship is the speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates. The current speaker would likely have many political differences than the men in line before him.

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Kirk Cox could be the next governor

Kirk Cox was born in Petersburg, Virginia. He attended James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia and Richard Bland College in Prince George, Virginia. A former high school teacher, he was first elected to the House of Delegates in 1989. Cox became majority whip in 2004, majority leader in 2010 and speaker in 2018. He is also a Republican.

Considered to be in the 'mainstream', Cox has received bipartisan support in the past. Like the national equivalent, the Virginia house speaker is voted on by the whole body, not just their party. Cox was elected with a vote of 98-0.

Cox had previously stated he hoped Northam would resign and that impeachment proceedings could be avoided. In part, he felt that impeachment would be overturning election results. The New York Post reports that Cox also strongly denies ever wearing blackface makeup.

While Cox may be a relative moderate, he still differs in policy from the Democrats in many ways. As governor, it's likely that there would be many more changes in Virginia.