At first, a Virginia Democrat defended Gov. Ralph Northam amid backlash over an old photo that surfaced, but now, Democrats are aligning in calling for the governor’s resignation.
At the start of Black History Month, a 1984 medical school yearbook photo of Northam surfaced showing two men with one dressed in a Ku Klux Klan outfit and the other in blackface.
The governor apologized Friday for the “clearly racist and offensive” photo, taking responsibility in “the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now.”
Northam released another apology, saying in a video that he apologizes “for behavior in my past that falls far short of the standard you set for me when you elected me to be your governor.” He added that the photo “does not reflect that person I am today.”
He also said that he’s “ready to do the hard work of regaining your trust.”
Check out the yearbook photo below:
JUST IN: Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam confirms he is one of the individuals in yearbook photo showing one person in blackface and another in KKK hood, apologizes for "racist and offensive" costume https://t.co/3K4VGfP5Mv pic.twitter.com/YoWqInnDAV
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) February 1, 2019
As IJR Red noted, Senate Minority Leader Richard L. Saslaw (D-Fairfax) defended the “very poor taste” photo when he said, “no one in the General Assembly […] would like their college conduct examined.”
To other Democrats, as well as left-wing organizations, Northam’s apology fell short and they called for his resignation.
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 @RalphNortham
— Derrick Johnson (@DerrickNAACP) February 2, 2019
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.
— Terry McAuliffe (@TerryMcAuliffe) February 2, 2019
If @RalphNortham is one of the two people pictured in the highly disturbing, horrific photo wearing either blackface or a KKK hood – or if he selected or approved of its use on his yearbook page — he should immediately resign. There are no excuses for such a racist display.
— MoveOn (@MoveOn) February 1, 2019
— Jeff Bourne (@JeffMBourne) February 2, 2019
There is no place for racism in America. Governor Northam has lost all moral authority and should resign immediately, Justin Fairfax is the leader Virginia needs now.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) February 2, 2019
Several Democratic candidates who are running in the 2020 presidential election also showed strong criticism toward Northam’s surfaced photo.
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
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
These images arouse centuries of anger, anguish, and racist violence and they’ve eroded all confidence in Gov. Northam’s ability to lead. We should expect more from our elected officials. He should resign.
— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) February 2, 2019
There aren’t two sets of rules for our friends and our foes: Right is right and wrong is wrong. Americans deserve to be respected by their leaders, and racism cannot be excused in our government or anywhere else. Having seen the photo, I believe Governor Northam should resign.
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) February 2, 2019
As IJR Red reported, both Virginia Sens. Tim Kaine (D) and Mark Warner (D) condemned the photo and told Northam to “carefully consider what comes next” but didn’t push for him to resign.
On Saturday, the Democratic Party of Virginia announced that they allowed Northam to “do the correct thing” and resign but received “word he will not do so this morning.”
“We stand with Democrats across Virginia and the country calling him to immediately resign,” they wrote. “He no longer has our confidence or our support.”
Despite his apology on Friday about the “photograph of me from my 1984 medical school yearbook in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive,” Northam backtracked by telling the state Democrats he didn’t believe the yearbook photo was of him, according to reports.