I’ve known Gene Rossi since early 2016, and one thing I’ve learned since then is that when Gene feels strongly about something, he doesn’t hold back. Something about almost dying (from a rare blood disease known as amyloidosis) in 2013, getting “new blood” and surviving the near-death experience might do that to you. Or maybe Gene’s always been like that, I don’t know. Regardless, he’s a breath of fresh air, particularly in the world of politics, where there’s a nauseating amount of b.s. about people’s “dear friends” (who are most certainly *not* their dear friends), their “esteemed colleague across the aisle” (barf), cutesy hashtags (double barf), blah blah blah. Gene’s too real, too blue collar at his core, to be like that – and that’s a very good thing.
Anyway, in 2017, Gene ran for the Democratic nomination for Lt. Governor of Virginia, finishing third out of three candidates, behind Justin Fairfax and Susan Platt. Also interesting regarding his relationship to Justin Fairfax is that Gene actually hired Fairfax as a U.S. Attorney – “I trained him, I mentored him and I supervised him,” as Gene says in a new interview. Gene has a lot of interesting things to say in this interview, and I recommend you read the entire thing, but here are a few highlights (bolding added by me for emphasis).
- Gene says he doesn’t “necessarily disagree” with people who call Ralph Northam, Justin Fairfax and Mark Herring “Larry, Moe and Curly,” and that he’s “ashamed that our state is now being run by three individuals, mostly the governor and lieutenant governor, who are not respected in the state and are definitely not respected nationwide.”
- Gene says he wishes Northam and Fairfax “would resign today, but it’s not going to happen because they are clinging to power, they don’t want to leave their positions of power and that really bothers me because they’re not thinking about what’s best for the state.” He adds that if he were a Republican strategist, he’d be “in heaven right now and I would pray that the lieutenant governor and the governor do not resign.”
- Gene predicts – and I agree with him 100% – that in this fall’s campaign, Virginia Republicans “will have photos of Justin and photos of Ralph, and below Justin’s photo will be the statements of Dr. Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson, both of whom I believe.”
- Gene rips Justin Fairfax for “[giving] a speech to the Senate [in which] he compared himself figuratively to a political lynching.” He also rips Fairfax’s Chief of Staff Larry Roberts, who “about two weeks ago…made the comparison [between Justin Fairfax and Emmett Till] in a Facebook post, and his staff has been making that comparison ever since.” According to Gene, “It’s shameful.”
- Gene says Justin Fairfax is using the “same playbook that Brett Kavanaugh did,” implying that his accusers (Vanessa Tyson and Meredith Watson) are “pathological liar[s] and prevaricator[s].” According to Gene, who worked as a federal prosecutor for nearly 30 years, these are “two serious allegations by African American women who have no motive to lie.”
- Gene believes that all this has put at serious risk Democrats’ chances of taking back the General Assembly this November. Again, I agree with him.
- As for his possible political future, Gene says he’s thinking about running for Lt. Governor or maybe even Governor in 2021.
- The last paragraph is worth quoting in full, because it’s classic Gene Rossi – and also good stuff: “I have held back for three weeks. I’m just tired of it. And I gotta say the thing that caused me to cross the Rubicon was Justin Fairfax’s speech on Sunday figuratively comparing himself to political lynchings and Jim Crow. That was disgraceful. And Ralph Northam can do his reconciliation tour and God bless him, but let him do his tour as a private citizen, not as my governor.”