Virginia Gov. Northam, isolated, gets space to ponder his fate as Democrats absorb scandals

by Gregory S. Schneider
February 8, 2019

RICHMOND — Embattled Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) appeared to be in a stronger position Thursday as the scandals engulfing the state’s other two top officeholders made it less likely he would be forced to step down during the General Assembly session.

Most Democrats in Virginia’s congressional delegation stood by their call for him to resign over a racist photo in a 1984 yearbook and his use of blackface that same year, but some privately acknowledged that the reckoning might have to wait. They took a softer stand toward Attorney General Mark R. Herring (D), refraining from calling for his resignation over a blackface incident from his college days.

The delegation could not agree on what to say about Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D), who denies allegations that he sexually assaulted a woman in 2004.

In Richmond, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus echoed those positions late Thursday after long behind-the-scenes deliberations. The lawmakers renewed their call for Northam to resign, an action that emphasized how isolated he continues to be over the photo depicting someone in blackface and someone in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe on his 1984 medical school yearbook page. Northam was 25 at the time.

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