Democrat Governors: Northam Should Still Resign

Racism and redemption: Virginia blackface row stirs painful past
AFP/JIM WATSON

The Democratic Governors Association (DGA) is sticking to its calls asking disgraced Democrat Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to resign three weeks after he apologized for a racist photo of one man in blackface and a second man in a Ku Klux Klan hood on his 1984 medical school yearbook page.

Democrat Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, the head of the DGA, said in a Saturday press conference that members of the DGA “stand by that” call for Northam’s ouster even after Democrat Attorney General Mark Herring also admitted to appearing in blackface and Democrat Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax faces two separate allegations of sexual assault.

The DGA initially called for Northam’s resignation before the allegations surrounding Herring and Fairfax were made public. In the weeks that have followed the scandals surrounding the leaders in Virginia’s executive branch, Northam’s popularity took a nosedive— with only 17 percent of Virginians approving of the governor.

But Democrats cooled on calling for Northam’s resignation when the possibility came up that if all three men in Virginia’s executive branch were to resign, Republican Assembly Speaker Kirk Cox would become governor.

“It’s a very, very disappointing and challenging set of circumstances in Virginia,” Raimondo said. “We felt that in light of these circumstances, it was appropriate, and stand by that.”

Northam has denied being either subject in the yearbook photo, but admitted to appearing in blackface while dressing as Michael Jackson at a 1984 Halloween party and refused to step down from his position.

Northam was absent from this week’s National Governor’s Association meetings in Washington, and Virginia’s General Assembly finished their work for the year over the weekend.

Cox said it is unlikely his chamber would impeach the embattled Virginia Democrat, and Raimondo said there is nothing public officials can do except convince Northam to quit.

“At this point, it’s up to the people of Virginia,” Raimondo said.

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