Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) called on his successor Ralph Northam (D) to resign late Friday after Northam admitted he appeared in a picture showing a man wearing blackface and another dressed in a Ku Klux Klan robe.
“This has been a heartbreaking day. Ralph Northam is my friend and he served well as my Lt. Governor and as Governor. His actions on display in this photo were racist, unacceptable and inexcusable at any age and any time,” McAuliffe tweeted.
“The situation that he has put himself and the Commonwealth of Virginia in is untenable. It's time for Ralph to step down, and for the Commonwealth to move forward,” added McAuliffe, who left office last year.
This has been a heartbreaking day. Ralph Northam is my friend and he served well as my Lt. Governor and as Governor. His actions on display in this photo were racist, unacceptable and inexcusable at any age and any time.— Terry McAuliffe (@TerryMcAuliffe) February 1, 2019
McAuliffe remains a juggernaut in Virginia politics and could have a particularly large sway over Northam’s response to mounting calls to resign.
The Congressional Black Caucus and Virginia Legislative Black Caucus both issued statements Friday night calling on the incumbent Virginia governor to step down.
Northam apologized Friday night for appearing in the picture from his 1984 medical school yearbook, though he resisted initial calls to step aside.
“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 in a statement.
The photo obtained by The Virginian-Pilot and other outlets on Friday came from a yearbook housed in the Eastern Virginia Medical School library.
Northam confirmed he was one of the people pictured in the photo, but has not clarified if he was wearing blackface or the KKK robe.
The Virginia governor has faced a cavalcade of bipartisan calls for his resignation.
“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,” Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisTrump: McConnell must use debt limit to crush Biden agenda Building back a better vice presidency Stacey Abrams nominated to board of solar energy firm MORE (D-Calif.), one of two African-Americans so far running for president in 2020, tweeted Friday night.
“It doesn’t matter if he is a Republican or a Democrat. This behavior was racist and unconscionable. Governor Northam should resign,” Julián Castro, another Democratic 2020 presidential candidate, said.
“What Ralph Northam did was unforgivable. Given his statements on the right to life coupled with the most recent revelations, he has lost the moral authority to continue to govern and should resign immediately,” the Virginia Republican Party added.
The Virginia governor indicated in a video posted Friday night that he was not prepared to step down.
“I have spent the past year as your governor fighting 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,” Northam said in the video.