The entirety of Virginia’s Democratic delegation is calling for Governor Ralph Northam (D) to resign after turmoil has captured the Commonwealth in the middle of the 46-day General Assembly session. Last Friday, photos surfaced of Northam reportedly appearing in his 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS) yearbook either in blackface or in KKK robes.
The governor first confirmed that he was in the photo – not saying which one – then backpedaled the day following at a very odd press conference, which included an attempt to “moonwalk” in front of reporters and his wife, Pam, telling him “inappropriate circumstances.”
In the week since Northam has remained in office, there have been calls from dozens of organizations, all Virginia legislators, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and prospective 2020 Democratic presidential candidates for him to resign.
Nevertheless, the statement also addresses the situation surrounding Attorney General Mark Herring (D), who admitted to wearing blackface to look like a black rapper at a party at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville in 1980. His admission came after he previously called for Northam’s resignation for also appearing in racist photos.
Moreover, Virginia’s democratic delegation also addressed Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax (D), who is now facing a sexual assault accusation from a woman, Dr. Vanessa Tyson, at the 2004 Boston Democratic National Convention.
Issued by Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine and U.S. Representatives Bobby Scott (VA-3), Gerry Connolly (VA-11), Don Beyer (VA-8), Donald McEachin (VA-4), Elaine Luria (VA-2), Abigail Spanberger (VA-7), and Jennifer Wexton (VA-10), the statement reads:
“Like other Virginians, we have been devastated by these horrible developments. We are brokenhearted that the actions of Governor Northam and Attorney General Herring have reopened old wounds left by Virginia’s long history of slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and systemic racism. There’s no question that Virginians’ faith in their government and leaders has understandably been deeply shaken.
We have each publicly called for Governor Northam to resign.
Yesterday, we were shocked and saddened to learn of the incident in the Attorney General’s past. The Attorney General has earnestly reached out to each of us to apologize and express his deep remorse. We understand that he is currently engaged in in-depth discussions with leaders and others in Virginia. The Attorney General must continue those conversations, and stand ready to answer questions from the public if he is to regain their trust.
We are deeply disturbed by the account detailing the alleged actions of Lieutenant Governor Fairfax. We believe these allegations need to be taken very seriously, and we respect the right of women to come forward and be heard.
We will continue in dialogue with one another and our constituents in the coming days, and evaluate additional information as it comes to light.”
The delegation, however, does not call for the resignations of Fairfax or Herring.
If all three were to resign amid the racial and sexual controversy, Speaker of the House of Delegates Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) is next in the line of succession to lead the Commonwealth’s executive branch.