Virginia Governor Ralph Northam is showing no signs of backing down, even as he seems to be losing the support of his Democrat colleagues—with many high-level officials calling on him to resign—following the fallout of his highly racist 1984 medical school yearbook.
Still, Northam refuses and met with his Cabinet members for a regularly scheduled meeting on Monday to beg them for a chance to prove that he was not the person photographed in the racist yearbook photo featuring two men, one in blackface and the other in a Ku Klux Klan robe.
A source told CNN that the governor voiced the concern that if he resigns he would be known as a “racist for life” and said that the only way to restore his good name is to remain in office and prove to people that he is not in the racist photo and that the photo does not represent him or his beliefs.
“We are struggling here, there is no better way to put it. We all love the governor,” the source in the room told CNN. “We don’t think he has a racist bone in his body — but he can’t seem to explain this, and it is making it very difficult for us to stick by him.”
The source told CNN that the meeting was tense, and many voiced their own concerns, including the fact that the governor is unlikely to regain the trust of the people.
However, despite his refusal to step down…for now, Northam himself still seems to be struggling with exactly what to do, with him later voicing at an all-staff meeting that he needs more time to decide how to go forward.
Still, at least so far, no staffers have decided to quit themselves.
That being said, can Northam really expect to govern, and govern effectively, if he has no visible support from any Democrats around him; even Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax has as little to say of the fallout.
Fairfax, who is Black, and would be governor if Northam steps down, released only one statement over the weekend saying that he cannot condone Northam’s past, although he did not directly call for a resignation.
“I believe that the governor has to make the decision that is in the best interest of the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Fairfax said Monday. “I know that there are many others who have called on him to resign. I am in a unique position, obviously, as the lieutenant governor and someone who would have to assume that office in the event that he were to resign, so I have to be very circumspect and I have to think of the people or the commonwealth.”
That being said, Fairfax is now at the center of his own controversy, being accused of sexually assaulting a woman during the 2004 Democratic National Convention. His accuser has also reportedly retained the same law firm that represented Christine Blasey Ford during Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s sexual assault hearing.
Fairfax vehemently denied the accusations, calling the accusations a “smear,” according to the Washington Post.
“Does anybody think it’s any coincidence that on the eve of my potentially being elevated, this uncorroborated smear comes up?” he said. “You don’t have to be cynical, you don’t have to understand politics, to understand when someone’s trying to manipulate a process to harm someone’s character without any basis whatsoever.”