Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax Condemns Northam Photo, Shies Away From Calling for Resignation

Fairfax would complete Northam's term as governor if Northam resigned

What to Know

  • Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam apologized Friday after a 1984 yearbook photo surfaced of people in blackface and a KKK robe.
  • Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax condemned the photo, calling it "vile" and "horrid." He would complete the governor's term should he resign.
  • Northam said the behavior did not reflect his values. On Saturday, he said he actually wasn't shown in the photo. He refused to resign.

Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax responded to Gov. Ralph Northam's apology Saturday afternoon, saying the state deserves leadership that unites and inspires citizens, as Northam faces immense pressure to resign after a racist photo emerged Friday.

In a one-on-one interview with News4, Fairfax called the photo from Northam's 1984 medical school yearbook "vile" and "horrid" and said he was "shocked and saddened" to see it. The photo shows two people, one dressed in blackface and another dressed in a KKK robe and hood.

Northam initially apologized Friday and said that he was depicted in the photo, but did not clarify if he was wearing the KKK robe or the blackface.

The governor then walked back that admission in a Saturday afternoon news conference, where he denied being in the photo and refused to resign, but admitted to wearing blackface during a dance contest in San Antonio when he dressed up as Michael Jackson.

"I am asking for the opportunity to earn your forgiveness," Northam said.

Fairfax would succeed Northam and complete the rest of Northam's term, which is set to end in 2022. The Virginia Constitution prohibits a governor from serving two terms in a row.

But Fairfax shied away from calling for Northam's resignation when asked if he should succeed the governor.

"I always want to do what's in the best interest of Virginia and I think that I've been fortunate to serve in leadership capacities," Fairfax said. "There's more to come with the support of the people but right now we got to put Virginia first.

Fairfax also said he appreciated a personal apology he received from Northam and hopes the governor puts the state's priorities first.

"I think the governor will make the best decision, hopefully in the interest of the Commonwealth of Virginia and that's what I will always continue to do."

Earlier, Fairfax said he condemned the racist photo in a news release.

"I cannot condone the actions from his past that, at the very least, suggest a comfort with Virginia's darker history of white supremacy, racial stereotyping, and intimidation."

Northam currently faces calls to resign from Democrats in Virginia's House of Delegates and state senate. The Virginia Republican Party and former Democratic governor Terry McAuliffe have also called for him to resign.

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring was the latest state official to call for Northam's resignation Saturday evening.

"It is no longer possible for Govenor Northam to lead our Commonwealth and it is time for him to step down." Herring said in a statement.

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