Embattled Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam now say he will not resign over recently uncovered pictures in blackface in his medical school yearbook, despite calls from national Democrats for Northam to step down.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam told his top staff Friday that he is not going to resign over the racist photo that has roiled state politics, despite intense pressure to step down, according to a top administration official.
Northam called a Cabinet meeting Friday afternoon to announce his intention to stay, the official said. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity
The announcement comes at the end of an unprecedented week in Virginia history that has seen the state’s three top Democrats embroiled in potentially career-ending scandals.
The tumult began last Friday afternoon, when Northam’s medical school yearbook page surfaced with a picture of one person in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe.
Northam immediately apologized for appearing in the photograph, saying he could not “undo the harm my behavior caused then and today.” Most of the Democratic establishment called for his resignation by the end of the day.
On Saturday, though, the governor reversed course and said he wasn’t in the picture. He said he wasn’t going to resign immediately because he owed it to the people of Virginia to start a discussion about race and discrimination and listen to the pain he had caused.
“I believe this moment can be the first small step to open a discussion about these difficult issues,” Northam said. But the governor left his long-term plans open, saying he would reassess his decision not to resign if it became clear he had no viable path forward.
The pressure on Northam reached a crescendo Saturday when almost the entire Virginia Democratic establishment, as well as nearly every Democratic presidential hopeful, called on him to resign. That pressure has tapered off as a cascade of scandals involving top politicians has rocked the state.
Meanwhile, Virginia's Lt. Governor, Justin Fairfax, is now being accused by a second woman of sexual assault.
A Maryland woman said Friday she was raped by Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) in a “premeditated and aggressive” assault in 2000, while they both were undergraduate students at Duke University. She is the second woman this week to make an accusation of sexual assault.
The woman, Meredith Watson, said Friday in a written statement through her attorney that she shared her account immediately after it happened with several classmates and friends. Watson did not speak publicly Friday and her lawyer did not make her available for an interview.
Watson was friends with Fairfax at Duke but they never dated or had any romantic relationship, the lawyer, Nancy Erika Smith, said.
“At this time, Ms. Watson is reluctantly coming forward out of a strong sense of civic duty and her belief that those seeking or serving in public office should be of the highest character,” Smith said in the statement . “She has no interest in becoming a media personality or reliving the trauma that has greatly affected her life. Similarly, she is not seeking any financial damages.”
Sadly, Northam has decided that if Donald Trump can survive worse allegations, he shouldn't have to go anywhere. Fairfax too denies the second allegation and says he too will not resign.
If Democrats go down that road, there's no coming back.
And the voters will remember.