Republican and Democratic delegates are preparing to call for the resignation of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam, after a photo emerged which appears to show him in either blackface or klan robes. The image is from a yearbook from his time at Eastern Virginia Medical School in Norfolk, according to a photo posted just now by Big League Politics. Another image of the yearbook has been published by the Virginian-Pilot.
A source inside the House of Delegates confirmed to Cockburn that lawmakers from both parties were preparing to move against the governor.
‘Racism has no place in Virginia,’ said RPV Chairman Jack Wilson. ‘These pictures are wholly inappropriate. If Gov. Northam appeared in blackface or dressed in a KKK robe, he should resign immediately.’
Virginia State Sen. Bryce Reeves tweeted, ‘I hope that this picture is inaccurate and that the Governor brings clarity to this issue. This has no place in Virginia. If this is true, he should resign immediately.’
In a joint statement, Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Kirk Cox, Senate Majority Leader Thomas K. Norment Jr., House Majority Leader Todd Gilbert and Senate Rules Committee Ryan T. McDougle (all Republicans) said ‘I hope that this picture is inaccurate and that the Governor brings clarity to this issue. This is a deeply disturbing and offensive photograph in need of an immediate explanation by the Governor.’
And Corey Stewart, the Republican nominee who challenged Tim Kaine for his US Senate seat, added his voice to the chorus. ‘I think he should resign. Clearly. The guy’s a racist,’ he told Cockburn.
‘He appears in blackface, in KKK, and that kind of thing is a clear indication that he is a racist and he needs to resign immediately. It’s really a shame this wasn’t uncovered earlier…because the Democrats are always the party accusing Republicans of being racist but in fact, the Democratic governor of Virginia is now proven to be a racist, and he should resign. It’s really unfortunate that the Gillespie team did not uncover these photos during the campaign.’
The photo appears to show Northam and his friend standing next to each other. The other three on the page are of Northam in various poses.
If the photo is authentic, it could be a death knell for Northam’s tenure as governor. But Big League Politics does not have a great reputation among the media, and it will be interesting to see who caves first and decides this is a story worth their attention.
A source connected to Virginia Republican politics confirmed to Cockburn that they had heard rumors about Northam’s yearbook from EVMS, but they were not able to find it.
Northam has been heavily scrutinized this week after defending Delegate Kathy Tran’s late-stage abortion bill, which had the support of other delegates in the house and several state senators. It would have allowed the killing of a baby in the process of being delivered, if one doctor allowed that doing so was beneficial to the woman’s mental health.
The mainstream media reported that Republicans ‘pounced’ or ‘seized’ on Tran and Northam’s astounding bill, rather than its contents. Let’s see if they pounce or seize on this themselves.
Cockburn has reached out to Northam for comment, and will update this story as more information emerges.
The Virginia Democratic Caucus in the House of Delegates have called an emergency meeting for everyone still in Richmond.
Here is the photo:
And this is Northam’s current profile header on Twitter:
Cockburn wonders how he would explain it to them.
Update 6:20p.m., ET: Gov. Northam has issued the following statement:
‘Earlier today, a website published a photograph of me from my 1984 medical school yearbook in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive.
‘I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and the hurt that decision caused then and now.
‘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.’
It appears that Gov. Northam is going to try and ride this one out. Also, does it strike anyone else as strange that he acknowledges ‘the hurt he caused then’ in his apology? Meaning he was aware of it in 1984?
Another key question remains unanswered: is he in blackface, or the Klan robe?
Update: 6:50p.m., ET: Cockburn understands that the Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax is returning to Richmond. His source tells him that ‘no one knows what he’s going to say.’ Will he strongarm Northam out of the governorship? Or come to his defense?