National Dem governors group official: Northam photo ‘disqualifying’

National Dem governors group official: Northam photo ‘disqualifying’

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D), the vice chair of the Democratic Governors Association who is set to lead the national group in 2020, has called on Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) to resign amid mounting backlash over a racist photo.

“I don’t see the governor’s got any other choice other than to step aside,” Murphy said during an interview Friday night on MSNBC.

“I say it with a heavy heart because I know him and I believe he’s a good man, but this is…disqualifying. Particularly at this moment in time and with the division in our country.”

Northam has so far resisted mounting calls from members of both parties to step down after he acknowledged that he was in a photo from a medical school yearbook in 1984 that showed a man in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe.

The first-term governor, who entered office last year, issued an apology Friday night and posted a video message saying that the "racist and offensive attitudes" in the photo that emerged earlier in the day did not represent the person he is today.

“I accept responsibility for my past actions, and I am ready to do the hard work of regaining your trust,” Northam said in the video.

“I have spent the past year as your governor fight for a Virginia that works better for all people. I am committed to continuing that fight through the remainder of my term and living up to the expectations you set for me when you elected me to serve," he said.

The photo obtained by the Virginia Pilot, which came from the 1984 yearbook housed in the Eastern Virginia Medical School library, showed two people – one in blackface, and another in a white robe. 

Northam did not say in his statement apologizing for the photo which person was him.

“I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now,” he said.

Northam has faced mounting calls for his resignation since the photo emerged, with both Democrats and Republicans – along with multiple activist groups and political figures – saying he needs to leave office.

“Leaders are called to a higher standard, and the stain of racism should have no place in the halls of government. The Governor of Virginia should step aside so the public can heal and move forward together,” tweeted Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisThe generational divide of Joe Biden and the Democratic Party 2020 Democrats mark 7th anniversary of DACA 2020 Democrats mark 7th anniversary of DACA MORE (D-Calif.), one of two African Americans running for president so far.

“Racism has no place in Virginia,” Virginia Republican Party Chairman Jack Wilson said in a statement. “These pictures are wholly inappropriate. If Governor Northam appeared in blackface or dressed in a KKK robe, he should resign immediately.”