Democrats Are Urging Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to Resign Over Racist Photo

February 3, 2019, 5:13 PM UTC

Democrats are calling for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to resign even though he has said he will not after a racist photo from his 1984 medical school yearbook resurfaced, causing national outrage.

The Democratic governor denied being in the photograph, which showed a person in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe. However, he later admitted to wearing blackface during a Michael Jackson dance contest that same year.

Congressional Black Caucus leaders are among those making calls for the governor to step down. California Rep. Karen Bass, chairwoman of the CBC, and Virginia Democratic Rep. Donald McEachin appeared on Meet The Press Sunday morning. McEachin said Northam had “lost the authority to lead, he’s lost the authority to govern.”

Bass also criticized Northam for “forcing the wrong conversation.” She added, “What he should do is resign, and if he has any integrity at all, he should participate in that conversation.”

The remarks follow those made by other Democrats, such as those from the Democratic Governor’s Association, which issued a public statement on the matter. DGA Chair Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo and Vice Chair New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, urged Northam to resign, calling the yearbook photo “racist and inexcusable.”

Prominent Virginia legislators have also made public calls for Northam’s resignation, including the former Gov. Douglas Wilder, who became the first black governor since the Reconstruction era in 1990. Wilder wrote on Twitter that Northam has no other choice “but to resign.”

Virginia Sens. Tim Kaine and Mark Warner and Virginia Rep. Bobby Scott all urged Northam to resign, writing in a statement: “Governor Northam has served the people of the Commonwealth faithfully for many years, but the events of the past 24 hours have inflicted immense pain and irrevocably broken the trust Virginians must have in their leaders. He should step down and allow the Commonwealth to begin healing.”

The state’s Democratic Party echoed these calls, as did the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, who said in a statement that the “revelations” had caused “irreparable” damage, adding that their confidence in the governor had been “eviscerated.”

Former Attorney General Eric Holder, who is considering the 2020 presidential race, said on Twitter that he no longer believes Northam has “the ability to effectively govern and effectively stand for the issues – moral and political – that Virginia and the nation must confront.”

Other 2020 presidential prospects made the same demand, including California Sen. Kamala Harris, who wrote on Twitter that the governor “should step aside so the public can heal and move forward together.”

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted a call for Northam to resign, and said, “Hatred and discrimination have no place in our country and must not be tolerated.” New York Sen. Kristen Gillibrand, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard all also urged Northam to step down.

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, another 2020 hopeful; House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; and Hillary Clinton all weighed in on Twitter.

Ocasio-Cortez called the photo “painful” adding that while Northam should resign, “those who try to help him stumble past this deserve scrutiny.”