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.
Ed Gillespie, who ran for Governor of the Great State of Virginia against Ralph Northam, must now be thinking Malpractice and Dereliction of Duty with regard to his Opposition Research Staff. If they find that terrible picture before the election, he wins by 20 points!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 3, 2019
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 horrible statement on “super” late term abortion. Unforgivable!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 3, 2019
This has gone on too long. There is nothing to debate. He must resign. https://t.co/TjfS3vbcws— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 3, 2019
There is no place for racism in America. Governor Northam has lost all moral authority and should resign immediately, Justin Fairfax is the leader Virginia needs now.— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) February 2, 2019
This has been a heartbreaking day. Ralph Northam is my friend and he served well as my Lt. Governor and as Governor. His actions on display in this photo were racist, unacceptable and inexcusable at any age and any time.— Terry McAuliffe (@TerryMcAuliffe) February 2, 2019
What Ralph Northam did was unforgivable. Given his statements on the right to life coupled with the most recent revelations, he has lost the moral authority to continue to govern and should resign immediately.— Virginia GOP (RPV) (@VA_GOP) February 1, 2019
If Governor Northam loves Virginia the way I know he does, he will resign to allow the Commonwealth to focus on its place in addressing the history of slavery and racism in America.— Mayor Muriel Bowser (@MayorBowser) February 3, 2019
These images arouse centuries of anger, anguish, and racist violence and they’ve eroded all confidence in Gov. Northam’s ability to lead. We should expect more from our elected officials. He should resign.— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) February 2, 2019
Leaders are called to a higher standard, and the stain of racism should have no place in the halls of government. The Governor of Virginia should step aside so the public can heal and move forward together.— Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) February 2, 2019
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.