As Virginia continues to grapple with a multiple scandals rocking the top politicians in the state's government, Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax is vehemently denying details of a sexual assault allegation.
According to Tyson's letter, she and Fairfax had struck up a "cordial, but not flirtatious" friendship while working at the 2004 Democratic National Convention after learning that they had a mutual friend.
Both Democrats and Republicans condemned the images emerging in Virginia this week, but the scandal was an unwelcome blow to Democratic Party leaders in a swing state that will play a key role in the 2020 White House race and where the Democrats have been gaining ground, helped by growing strength with women and minorities.
The next person in line after Herring is House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox, a Republican.
"What began as consensual kissing quickly turned into a sexual assault", Tyson, a professor at Scripps College in Claremont, Calif., said in the statement released through her Washington law firm, Katz, Marshall & Banks.
But then rumours began circulating of another controversial photo, and this time it was Herring who was said to been in "blackface". Justin Fairfax stands to become Virginia's second black governor.
Ms Tyson, a 42-year-old political scientist who is on a fellowship at Stanford University, said she was not motivated by politics to come forward, writing: "I am a proud Democrat". "She deserves the opportunity to have her story heard", Scott said in the statement to ABC. Ordinarily, it would mean succession passes to Attorney General Mark Herring, also a Democrat. "But it doesn't change the fact that Northam needs to resign".
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Herring, Bloomberg noted, had already planned to run for governor in 2021 - Virginia governors are limited to one term - and was among the many Democrats calling for Northam to step down.
The governor, who is only the second female governor elected in OR and is the first openly bisexual governor in the United States, said America needs to have a broader conversation at every level about race and the impacts of racial inequities and racial justice.
Women and racial minorities are two of the party's most reliable voting blocs, and national Democrats have made racial justice and sexual equality key pillars of their agenda, taking a tough line against sexual misconduct or racial insensitivity to try to avoid being accused of hypocrisy in criticizing Trump and Republicans. Northam apologized, then denied appearing in the photo a day later, and has so far resisted calls to resign, despite condemnation from both parties and a trouncing on social media. "That's the message, and secondarily dressing up in Klan outfits or dressing up in blackface is not cool and it's too much history behind it and even if you don't understand the history I'm here to tell you there's history there that needs to be respected and acknowledged and do everybody a favor and just don't do it", Fauntroy said.
In the days since, Northam's administration has tried to inch its way back to normalcy while some of his top staff and advisers wonder if such a thing will ever be possible.
"I am deeply, deeply sorry for the pain that I cause with this revelation", he said.