US Democrats call on Virginia governor to resign over racist photo

Geraldine Edwards
February 4, 2019

Senior Democrats on Sunday accused embattled Virginia Governor Ralph Northam of being dishonest and urged him to resign after he backtracked from an earlier admission that he appeared in racist garb in a yearbook photo.

As calls mounted on Saturday for Mr Northam to resign because of the photo, Mr Trump tweeted: "Democrat Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia just stated, "I believe that I am not either of the people in that photo.' This was 24 hours after apologizing for appearing in the picture and after making the most frightful statement on 'super" late term abortion".

Northam, who took office a year ago, had admitted on Friday he was in the photo from the 1980s.

While talking with reporters, Northam admitted he once used shoe polish to put on blackface as part of a Michael Jackson costume for a 1984 dance contest in Texas, when he was in the Army.

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"I think given the overall climate around race in this country, especially over the last two years, it's completely unacceptable", said Bass, who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus.

"He apologized for the photographs and also said he had honest regrets about the entire situation", Fairfax told reporters Saturday, according to the report.

Both of Virginia's USA senators, Mark Warner and Tim Kaine, joined the dean of Virginia's congressional delegation, Rep. Bobby Scott, in saying in a statement Saturday night that they no longer believe Northam can effectively serve as governor. "That was quite a surprise to me".

But the Democrat who spoke to Northam said that after further reflection the governor said he has no memory of wearing either of the racist costumes and doesn't not believe he is in the picture.

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Ultimately, McAuliffe said, "It doesn't matter whether he was in the photo or not in the photo at this point. We have to close that chapter", McAuliffe said on CNN's "State of the Union".

"I intend to continue doing the business of Virginia", he said, adding that resigning would be the easier way out. And you have got to make the right decision. Other national leaders such as President Donald Trump and Speaker Nancy Pelosi offered their thoughts on the controversy.

His refusal to step down could signal a potentially long and bruising fight between Northam and virtually all of the state's Democratic establishment.

Many have called for the resignation of Northam, including some of his strongest allies in the Democratic Party, as well as organizations such as the NAACP and members of the Republican Party.

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Other prominent Democrats - including 2020 presidential candidates Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Cory Booker, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Julian Castro, a former top USA housing official - have been calling on Northam to resign since Friday.

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