State Watch

Northam says he will not resign over blackface, KKK photo

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) told state Democrats that he will not resign, despite facing overwhelming calls for him to step down over a photo that surfaced Friday showing a man wearing blackface and another dressed in a Ku Klux Klan robe.

At least one state Democrat has said the governor has been telling other party members that he does not believe he was in the photo, according to reports.  

“We made the decision to let Governor Northam do the correct thing and resign this morning — we have gotten word he will not do so this morning,” Susan Swecker, Virginia Democratic Party chairwoman, said in a statement Saturday.

The governor’s office announced late Saturday morning that he would “provide a statement to the media” at the governor’s mansion that afternoon.

{mosads}Northam apologized Friday after the picture surfaced, initially acknowledging that he appeared in the photo, which was reported by The Virginian-Pilot on Friday. The photo comes from a 1984 yearbook housed in the Eastern Virginia Medical School library.

“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,” Northam said in the statement. He did not clarify whether he was the man in blackface or the man in the KKK robe and hood.

Northam faced mounting backlash and calls for his resignation on Friday night among bipartisan lawmakers.

Members of Virginia’s congressional delegation began calling Northam on Friday night and privately urged him to resign, a source familiar with the calls told The Hill. A series of national Democratic officials also publicly called for him to step down.

Democrats in Virginia’s state legislature held an emergency conference call late Friday evening to discuss the escalating crisis, concluding that they could no longer support Northam, sources told The Hill. 

If Northam were to step down, it would mean Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, the second African-American elected to statewide office in Virginia, would become governor, serving out the rest of Northam’s term until 2021. 

Northam doubled down on his intentions to remain in office in a video statement posted late Friday night. 

“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,” Northam said in the video.

— Updated 11:29 a.m.


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