Virginia blackface scandal: Ralph Northam vows to stay as governor

Clay Curtis
February 11, 2019

Fairfax was previously considered as a top replacement for Governor Ralph Northam when past racist photos in his medical school yearbook came to light earlier this month.

Despite the calls on Northam to step down, greater pressure was focused on Fairfax, after a state House member, Patrick Hope, declared on Friday that he would introduce articles of impeachment on Monday unless the lieutenant-governor resigns. "And that's why I'm not going anywhere".

The poll also found that 11 percent of Virginia residents have either worn blackface or known someone who has. On Friday, the Democratic Lieutenant Governors Association removed Fairfax from its leadership ranks, naming officials from DE and Washington state in his place.

Top Democrats, including a number of presidential hopefuls and most of Virginia's congressional delegation, swiftly and decisively turned against Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who stands to become the state's second black governor if Northam quits. Although the party has taken an nearly zero-tolerance approach to misconduct among its members in this #MeToo era, a housecleaning in Virginia could be costly: If all three Democrats resigned, Republican state House Speaker Kirk Cox would become governor.

Meanwhile, a second woman accused Fairfax of sexual assault Friday, saying the Democrat raped her 19 years ago while they were students at Duke University.

Democratic lawmakers from Virginia have called on Fairfax to resign, as have Democratic senators Kirsten Gillibrand of NY and Cory Booker of New Jersey - both 2020 presidential contenders - among others.

Asked Sunday for his opinion on his subordinates, Northam said in the CBS interview that it's up to Fairfax and Herring to decide whether they want to remain in office.

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Virginia slid deeper into crisis on Wednesday, when Attorney General Mark Herring acknowledged wearing blackface at a college party in 1980, and Fairfax was publicly accused of sexual assault for the first time. The controversial photo shows two men, one of whom is dressed in black face and the other in a Ku Klux Klan costume. The governor first apologized for the photo, then retracted that apology saying it was not him in the photo and he confused it with the other time he wore blackface for a Michael Jackson contest in 1984, promised to watch "Roots" to educate himself, and has thus far refused to resign.

The attorney for a woman who accuses Virginia's lieutenant governor of rape in 2000 says her client is willing to testify in front of the state legislature if an impeachment hearing takes place.

He called on "all appropriate and impartial investigatory authorities, including the FBI", to investigate the claims. "And this is regardless of party because Northam, of course, is a Democrat", says Dagnes, who has studied and written extensively about political scandals.

Northam also made comments in regards to his apparent willingness to kill babies after birth.

Even so, a poll conducted February 6-8 for the Washington Post found residents split over Northam's fate, with 47 percent wanting him to step down and an equal number saying he should stay on.

Northam just can't seem to get this "Black" thing right. Whites are more evenly divided.

Additional portions of the interview with Northam are scheduled to shown Monday on "CBS This Morning", the network said.

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