Ralph Northam Still in Office 4 Weeks After Racist Photos Surface
Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam is still in office and has no plans to resign a month after a photo from his medical school yearbook surfaced showing two people dressed in blackface and Ku Klux Klan robes.
The photo from Northam’s Eastern Virginia Medical School 1984 senior yearbook page surfaced Feb. 1.
The governor issued a statement that day admitting he appeared in the photo and apologizing for it.
“Earlier today, a website published a photograph of me from my 1984 medical school yearbook in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive,” Northam said. “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.
“This behavior is not in keeping with who I am today and the values I have fought for throughout my career in the military, in medicine, and in public service. But I want to be clear, I understand how this decision shakes Virginians’ faith in that commitment.
“I recognize that it will take time and serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused. I am ready to do that important work.
“The first step is to offer my sincerest apology and to state my absolute commitment to living up to the expectations Virginians set for me when they elected me to be their Governor.”
A day later, however, Northam claimed he was not either of the people in the photo but admitted to darkening his face as part of a Michael Jackson costume.
“I am not the person in that photo,” he said at a Feb. 2 press conference.
Gov. Ralph Northam now says he does not believe it was him in the racist yearbook photo and that he will not resign, a top Virginia Democrat says https://t.co/LGOV0e9qO3 pic.twitter.com/nUTSDxMYoV
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) February 2, 2019
Democratic state Del. Charniele Herring, a longtime associate of Northam’s, said the governor admitted to her that he was in the photo.
“He told me personally on Friday that he acknowledges it was him in the photograph,” Herring said, CNN reported Feb. 4.
Two days after the photo surfaced, half of Virginia Democrats still approved of the governor, according to a Feb. 2-3 Morning Consult poll.
Northam’s wife, Pam, became embroiled in her own political debacle after she allegedly gave cotton to black students during a tour of the governor’s mansions. She asked the students “if they could imagine what it must have been like to pick cotton all day,” The Washington Post reported Friday.
A media storm also erupted around the governor in January after he made comments appearing to condone infanticide and late-term abortions.
Northam said later that he didn’t regret those statements, blaming media outlets for misconstruing his words.
“No, I don’t have any regrets,” Northam said at a news conference, adding, “I regret that those comments have been mischaracterized.”
Northam has served as Virginia’s governor since Jan. 13, 2018.
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