Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam (D) told staffers on Friday he will not resign, despite calls for him to do so over a racist photo from his medical school yearbook page. The Associated Press reported that Northam does not intend to resign, and the governor’s office later confirmed it to HuffPost.
Northam has come under fire since Big League Politics last week surfaced the governor’s page from the 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook, which features a photo of a person wearing blackface and a person wearing a Ku Klux Klan outfit standing side by side.
The photo sparked widespread outrage and calls from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle for the governor to step down.
Northam quickly apologized and indicated he was one of the two individuals pictured, though he didn’t say which. In a statement, the governor said he was “deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now.”
He later walked back his earlier admission, claiming he wasn’t in the photo and in fact had never seen it before last week. He did, however, admit to once wearing blackface as part of a Michael Jackson costume.
Virginia has entered a political crisis in the week since the photo surfaced. Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D), who would replace Northam should the governor resign, has had multiple allegations of sexual assault made against him in recent days.
Vanessa Tyson, an associate professor of politics at Scripps College in Claremont, California, has alleged that Fairfax sexually assaulted her in 2004 at the Democratic National Convention. A second woman, Meredith Watson, came forward on Friday and accused Fairfax of raping her in 2000 while they were attending Duke University.
Fairfax has denied both allegations.
Meanwhile, state Attorney General Mark Herring, who would be the next in line for the governorship after Fairfax, admitted this week to having once donned blackface in his youth.
The governor previously said at a press conference on Saturday that he did not intend to resign.
“I am asking for the opportunity to earn your forgiveness,” Northam said then, standing alongside his wife.
The Virginia Legislative Black Caucus released a statement shortly after the press conference saying it would continue to call for Northam’s resignation.