'State of shock': Virginia governor vows not to resign over racist incident

Erika Holt
February 12, 2019

But wait, Northam isn't done prattling on: "Virginia needs someone that can heal".

Now a California college professor, she says Mr Fairfax forced her to perform a sex act on him during the 2004 Democratic political convention in Boston.

While Northam pushes back, Fairfax is under increasing pressure to resign over two allegations of sexual assault.

"Even in the most hard times, including ones like these, that's when it's most important to adhere to our highest values as Americans", he said.

The sit-down with CBS was the Democratic governor's first television interview since a racist photo in his 1984 medical school yearbook emerged on February 1, prompting leading Democrats to call for Northam's resignation.

READ: Was racist photo in Virginia governor's college yearbook a mix-up?

"Did you ever think about resigning when the drumbeat became so loud, and by the way, they're still beating for you to step down?"

"I believe and trust that due process will provide the fairness, justice and honesty that is necessary", Fairfax said in a statement on Saturday.

Northam said the humbling week and the late-in-life conversations about race have made him determined to refocus his governorship, but it seemed plain that he is just beginning to think through what that might mean.

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GOVERNOR RALPH NORTHAM: Well, again we- we have worked very hard.

President Donald Trump weighed in Sunday morning, tweeting "African Americans are very angry at the double standard on full display in Virginia!"

Looking ahead, Northam said he has asked his cabinet secretaries to come up with specific proposals to begin addressing issues of inequality, such as expanding access to healthcare, housing and transportation, and to begin reporting suggestions this week.

Northam, meanwhile, insisted in an interview on CBS on Monday, that he would not resign over the 1984 yearbook picture, which showed a person in blackface next to another wearing the robes and hood of the white supremacist Ku Klux Klan.

Senate Majority Leader Tommy Norment, R, also acknowledged he was an editor of a 1968 yearbook that featured racial slurs and photos of students in blackface, but said he was not responsible for the content. Attorney General Mark Herring said he, too, had donned blackface. But he made no public comments. If they were all to resign over these controversies, Virginia could be led by the Republican Speaker of the House of Delegates, Kirk Cox. Calls for Northam's resignation raised the prospect of Fairfax taking over, which prompted his accusers to come forward. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Kirsten Gillibrand of NY, and Elizabeth Warren of MA.

The incident probably won't do much to convince his party to retract its almost unanimous call for his resignation.

If Fairfax were to leave, it's unclear who could replace him as lieutenant governor. Northam may try to appoint a Democrat, while Republicans could mount a legal challenge with the goal of getting Senate Pro Tem Steve Newman to serve as both a voting senator and temporary lieutenant governor.

In the press conference, Northam admitted to wearing blackface to look more like Michael Jackson, and even learning to moonwalk.

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam talks during an interview at the Governor's Mansion, Febuary 9, 2019 in Richmond, Virginia.

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