Embattled Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam reportedly considered leaving the Democratic Party amid fallout over yearbook photo scandal

Julia Rendleman for The Washington Post via Getty ImagesGovernor Ralph Northam addresses the media Saturday, February 2, 2019 at the Governor’s Mansion in Richmond, Va.
  • The embattled Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam began thinking of leaving the Democratic Party and governing the state as an independent, according to The Washington Post.
  • Northam has also defied calls to resign, which have come from both inside and outside the party.
  • He had previously admitted to, and apologised for a “racist and offensive” costume in his 1984 medical school yearbook. The image features two people – one dressed in blackface, and the other dressed in a Ku Klux Klan-style robe.
  • However, according to The Post, after a sleepless night, the former US Army physician came out defiantly, reportedly telling an adviser, “This isn’t me.”

The embattled Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam was starting to consider quitting the Democratic Party and trying to forge ahead governing the state as an independent, according to The Washington Post, revealing just how isolated the former surgeon is from any political support, be it from local allies, from the state, or the national party.

Northam has since moved on and defied almost universal political condemnation over a “racist and offensive” photo that appeared on his page in a 1984 yearbook published during his time in medical school. He has refused to resign, despite the fallout.

Northam had previously admitted to, and apologised for, wearing “racist and offensive” blackface costume in a college yearbook. But that apology hasn’t gone anywhere near to stopping the fierce condemnation from both Democrats and Republicans, and from organisations around the country.

However, according to The Post, after a sleepless night of working the phones “looking for answers,” the governor has come out defiantly, reportedly telling an advisers, “This isn’t me.”

The walk back is all the more difficult after previously declaring, only the night before, that he was in the photo and that he was really sorry for it.

“What Northam and close supporters viewed as defending his honour appeared to others – even his longtime political allies – as hubris, denial and selfishness,” The Post said.

“We amplify our call for the Governor to resign,” Virginia’s Legislative Black Caucus said in a statement Saturday after his turnabout.

The Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine and Rep. Bobby Scott, all Democrats from Virginia, were unmoved and urged Northam to step aside.

“After we watched his press conference today, 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.”

Crucially, the Black Caucus, considering the nature of the crisis, insisted on his resignation. His aides expected it. Then came the about turn, and then the press conference.

Northam told gathered media that no, the yearbook photo was not him. But he then added he’d blackened his face at another event during which he dressed like Michael Jackson.
What followed was renewed calls for his head, but the Northam’s are back in Richmond, refusing to budge.

“There will be a case study in bad political crisis management in this,” one unnamed close associate of Northam’s told The Post.

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