Virginia Governor Ralph Northam 'overreacted' on racist photo

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam 'overreacted' on racist photo

Kerry Wise
February 12, 2019

Northam is now shrouded in criticism after photos from his medical school yearbook from 1984 emerged last week, showing someone wearing blackface posed alongside a person dressed as a KKK member.

Republicans, including Trump, have predicted the scandal plaguing Virginia's top Democratic officials will give them the opportunity to make political gains in a state that's increasingly voted for Democrats in recent elections.

A housecleaning could be costly: If all three resign, Republican state House Speaker Kirk Cox would become Virginia's governor. Although the party has taken an nearly zero-tolerance approach to misconduct among its members in this #MeToo era, a housecleaning in Virginia could be costly: If all three Democrats resigned, Republican state House Speaker Kirk Cox would become governor.

Meanwhile, a second woman accused Fairfax of sexual assault Friday, saying the Democrat raped her 19 years ago while they were students at Duke University.

Northam said Fairfax would have to step aside if sexual assault allegations against him were found to be true.

The embattled Democrat, who has faced calls to resign from politicians of both parties, conducted an interview with Gayle King, which aired on Monday.

On Saturday, Northam made his first official public appearance since he denied being in the photo, attending the funeral for a state trooper killed in a shootout.

Still, "a clear sign of the depth of LG Fairfax's political crisis is the near-absence of voices in Virginia politics this weekend publicly urging him to remain in office", University of Mary Washington political science professor Stephen Farnsworth said in an email.

King also asked whether he thinks Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who has been accused of sexual assault by multiple women, should resign.

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Mr Fairfax denied the allegations and said he was the victim of a smear campaign.

According to Watson's attorneys, former classmates have provided statements corroborating the allegations and that she "immediately told friends that Fairfax had raped her". "We learn from our mistakes and I'm a stronger person", Northam said. In the clip, King asked Northam why he still thinks he deserves the job "when so many people are calling for you to step down?"

While Northam pushes back, Fairfax is under increasing pressure to resign over two allegations of sexual assault.

"Well again, we have worked very hard, we've had a good first year, and I'm a leader. I've been in some very difficult situations, life-and-death situations..."

Historians say Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam wrongly used the term "indentured servants" when referring to the first Africans to arrive in what is now Virginia.

Twitter, however, wasn't impressed by Northam's progress so far.

Most of Virginia's Democratic Congressional delegation and prominent national Democrats, including 2020 presidential candidates, called for the governor to resign after the racist photograph surfaced.

Northam defended Attorney General Mark Herring (D-Va.) who also admitted to wearing blackface, claiming that he regrets putting Herring in the position where he felt he must admit to his past wrongdoings.

If Fairfax were to leave, there's no consensus on who could replace him.