On the heels of Virginia Democratic Governor Ralph Northam admitting he was pictured in a racist 1984 college yearbook photo, the calls for him to resign continue to mount from his own party.
Numerous Democratic lawmakers and left-leaning groups, including Democratic presidential candidates Julian Castro, Kamila Harris, Corey Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand, Virginia Democratic Congresswoman Abigail Spanberger, the NAACP, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, Planned Parenthood, the Congressional Black Caucus, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, the Virginia Senate Democrats, the Virginia House Democrats, former Democratic Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe and former Vice President Joe Biden, made statements Friday night saying the governor should step down after admitting he was one of two people wearing blackface and a Ku Klux Klan robe.
Nearly two dozen sitting Democratic members of Congress have now called for his resignation, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
“We are having trouble reconciling our experience with Governor Northam with what we see in this photo,” Virginia House Democrats said in a statement. “Though it brings us no joy to do so, we must call for Governor Northam’s resignation.”
Northam issued a statement and video in which he apologized for appearing in the photo, but he showed no intent of resigning. Northam could not recall whether he was the one pictured in blackface or the KKK robe, and he reportedly called Virginia Democratic lawmakers Saturday morning to say he was neither of the two people, despite publicly admitting so the previous night.
“I recognize that it will take time and serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused,” Northam said. “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.”
Democratic Senator Tim Kaine of Virginia, Democratic Congressman Gerry Conolly of Virginia and Democratic Senator and presumptive presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts said Northam needs to seriously consider what comes next for the governor politically, but they did not call for his resignation.
“I hope the Governor—whose career as an Army officer, pediatrician and public official has always manifested a commitment to justice and equality for all—now takes the time to listen to those he has hurt and reflect on how to move forward,” Kaine said.
In his video statement, Northam said the photo represented “racist and offensive attitudes,” but added that it did not “reflect the person I am today.” Northam said he plans to serve out the remainder of his term.
“Ralph Northam has had three decades to know better but only now does he acknowledge this racist act,” the Congressional Black Caucus said. “An apology now isn’t enough. He must resign.”
Republicans have also called for his resignation. The Republican Party of Virginia’s chairman, Jack Wilson, said “racism has no place in Virginia. These pictures are wholly inappropriate. If Governor Northam appeared in blackface or dressed in a KKK robe, he should resign immediately.”
This story has been updated to include information about Nancy Pelosi and reported calls by Northam to state Democrats.