Late on Friday night a college yearbook photo showing Virginia’s recently elected Democrat governor in blackface standing next to another student in a KKK robe brought calls for him to resign. But Gov. Ralph Northam is flat out ignoring the mounting number of members of his own party telling him to step aside.
Overnight an avalanche of information that depicts Northam as a long-time racist came out, including that his college nickname was “Coonman.” But the photo that appeared on a page of the governor’s med school yearbook was the most damning. It depicts a student in blackface standing next to a student dressed in the white robe and pointy hood of the Ku Klux Klan.
On Friday evening, Northam apologized for the photo and even confirmed that he was one of the two figures in the photo — though he refused to say if he was the student in blackface or the one in the KKK hood.
I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now,” Northam said. “This behavior is not in keeping with who I am today and the values I have fought for throughout my career in the military, in medicine and in public service. But I want to be clear, I understand how this decision shakes Virginians’ faith in that commitment. I recognize that it will take time and serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused. I am ready to do that important work. The first step is to offer my sincerest apology and to state my absolute commitment to living up to the expectations Virginians set for me when they elected me to be their governor.
At first, the Virginia Democrat establishment stepped lightly toward the developing scandal. Few called for his resignation in the early hours of the evening. In fact, even the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus did not call for his resignation even though they condemned the photo.
That all began to change by Saturday morning. An avalanche of Democrats changed their minds and began calling for the governor to step aside. Even the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus did an about face and decided that Northam “can no longer effectively serve as Governor.”
But despite that his entire party has finally turned on him, Northam has steadfastly refused to quit.
On Saturday, Northam released a smirking video statement saying he was “deeply sorry” but intends to serve the “remainder of my term.”
“I accept responsibility for my past actions, and I am ready to do the hard work of regaining your trust,” Northam said.
My fellow Virginians, earlier today I released a statement apologizing for behavior in my past that falls far short of the standard you set for me when you elected me to be your governor. I believe you deserve to hear directly from me. pic.twitter.com/1rSw1oxfrX
— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) February 2, 2019
By Saturday afternoon, Northam’s attitude about his dilemma got worse. He began telling associates that he was not in the racist photo even though he hinted that he was in his original statement on Friday.
The pressure on Ralph “Coonman” Northam seems to be mounting and it is unlikely he will be able to just power through this controversy. Not only is there a growing number of Democrats calling for his resignation, but protesters have already started gathering outside the governor’s mansion in Richmond.
Protestors have turned around to face the governor’s mansion. Chants ringing out louder now. pic.twitter.com/8GuWW12iZn
— Gordon Rago (@gragonews) February 2, 2019
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston.