By Jon Dougherty, editor-in-chief
Democratic Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam remained defiant and vowed to serve out his remaining term in the face of a mounting controversy Friday evening after a photo of him dressed either in blackface or a KKK outfit surfaced from his medical school yearbook, though many on the Left are calling on him to step down.
“I accept responsibility for my past actions, and I am ready to do the hard work of regaining you trust,” Northam said in a video statement.
“I have spent the last year as your governor fighting for a Virginia that works better for all people. I am committed to continuing that fight for the remainder of my term.”
Earlier Friday, Big League Politics published the photo from Northam’s 1984 med school yearbook. Thus far, the Virginia Democrat hasn’t said which one he is in the pic — the person in blackface smiling and holding what looks like a beer, or the person dressed in full KKK costume.
Nevertheless, the Left exploded after the story broke, with Democrats — including at least two 2020 presidential contender — along with black activists calling on him to resign.
“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 Harris (D-Calif.), tweeted.
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.
— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) February 2, 2019
Earlier, ironically, Harris congratulated Northam on his election victory, claiming it was a victory against “racism and bigotry.”
Democratic presidential candidate and former mayor of San Antonio Julian Castro also called on Northam to resign, issuing the following statement on Twitter:
“It doesn’t matter if he is a Republican or a Democrat. This behavior was racist and unconscionable. Governor Northam should resign,” Castro said.
It doesn’t matter if he is a Republican or a Democrat. This behavior was racist and unconscionable. Governor Northam should resign.
— Julián Castro (@JulianCastro) February 2, 2019
The NAACP also called on Northam to step down.
“Black face in any manner is always racist and never okay. No matter the party affiliation, we can not stand for such behavior, which is why the NAACP is calling for the resignation of Virginia Governor Ralph Northam,” said NAACP president Derrick Johnson.
Northam’s nickname at the Virginia Military Institute, where he attended before medical school, was “Coonman.”
The Root politics editor and MSNBC contributor Dr. Jason Johnson of Morgan State University said Friday during an interview on the network he wasn’t sure that Northam would be able to survive a scandal of this magnitude.
“I don’t know that Northam will be able to survive this kind of scandal because this probably won’t be the only thing that comes up,” Johnson said.
Update 1: CNN ‘misidentified’ Northam as a Republican during its coverage of this controversy. Given the network’s history of fake news in the Trump era, we’re not surprised.
Update 2: Per The AP: “A Virginia Democrat who has spoken with Gov. Ralph Northam has told The Associated Press that the governor now does not believe he was in a racist picture in his 1984 medical yearbook and has no immediate plans to resign.”
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