Note: The photo in question is included in the bottom half of this article.
Calls for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to resign are coming from all sides of the political aisle following the revelation Friday that Northam appeared in a photo in his medical school yearbook page that showed a man dressed in blackface and another person wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood.
Northam apologized, took responsibility and vowed to mend the damage he’d caused with the photograph, which was included on Northam’s yearbook page from Eastern Virginia Medical School in 1984.
But the calls for him to step aside only heightened on Saturday with some of the nation’s top Democrats condemning the Virginia Democrat, even as he tried to quell the growing fiasco by telling at least one state lawmaker that it was not him in the photograph.
Nevertheless, the bipartisan chorus of lawmakers, organizations and prominent political figures demanding his resignation have mounted.
“There is no place for racism in America,” former Vice President Joe Biden wrote on Twitter. “Governor Northam has lost all moral authority and should resign immediately, Justin Fairfax is the leader Virginia needs now.”
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in Washington, said on Saturday that Northam should leave office so those in his state could heal and move forward.
“The photo is racist and contrary to fundamental American values,” Pelosi said in a tweet. “I join my colleagues in Virginia calling on Governor Northam to do the right thing so that the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia can heal and move forward.”
The NAACP’s President and CEO Derrick Johnson agreed in a written statement, saying, “Black face in any manner is always racist and never okay. No matter the party affiliation, we can not stand for such behavior, which is why the NAACP is calling for the resignation of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam.”
Republicans and Democrats, including nearly every Democratic presidential contender in the 2020 race, joined together to call for his resignation.
“It doesn’t matter if he is a Republican or a Democrat. This behavior was racist and unconscionable. Governor Northam should resign,” Julian Castro, a Democrat running for president, wrote on Twitter.
Sen. Kamala Harris, another Democrat running in 2020, agreed.
“Leaders are called to a higher standard, and the stain of racism should have no place in the halls of government,” she wrote on Twitter. “The Governor of Virginia should step aside so the public can heal and move forward together.
Sen. Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina who recently spoke out against Rep. Steve King’s remarks about white supremacism, also denounced Northam’s yearbook fiasco.
“To be clear, while a quick apology is good, it does not excuse the choices made by @GovernorVA as an adult enrolled in medical school,” Scott wrote on Twitter. “The people of VA will make their voices heard; I hope they will shout far & wide that there are consequences for such showcases of prejudice & hate.”
U.S. senators and former governors of Virginia Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine, along with U.S. Rep. Bobby Scott, released the following statement after watching Northam’s press conference Saturday:
“We called Governor Northam to tell him that we no longer believe he can effectively serve as Governor of Virginia and that he must resign. The events of the past 24 hours have inflicted immense pain and irrevocably broken the trust Virginians must have in their leaders.”
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy followed suit on “All in with Chris Hayes” on MSNBC Friday night. “We’re the party of Barack Obama, we’re the party of inclusion,” Murphy said.
Murphy described it as unacceptable behavior in 2019, and that it was just as unacceptable in 1984.
The incoming head of the Democratic Governors Association, Murphy said he speaks of Northam’s yearbook controversy with a “heavy heart.” “I know him and I believe he’s a good man,” New Jersey’s governor said.
Planned Parenthood tweeted a statement late Friday night telling Northam to resign.
Members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus say they are “still processing” the news that Northam appeared in a photo in which one person is dressed in blackface and another is wearing a full Ku Klux Klan uniform.
In a statement issued Friday night, the caucus said “what has been revealed is disgusting, reprehensible, and offensive.”
It went on to say that while the caucus has “no permanent friends, no permanent enemies, only permanent interests,” members “are still processing what we have seen about the Governor.”
The revelation of the yearbook photo comes at a particularly partisan time in Virginia. The state has been battling over a Democratic-led bill that would loosen restrictions on late-term abortions, allowing a woman to get an abortion well into the third trimester if the mother was physically or mentally at risk.
This week the bill failed to be voted out of committee but the uproar hasn’t stopped.
Virginia’s attorney general also called for Northam to resign.
Mark Herring said in a statement Saturday that it’s no longer possible for Northam to “lead our Commonwealth.”
Contributing: Associated Press; Joshua Jongsma, North Jersey Record