Democrats Have Found Their Unifying Issue: Calling for Northam to Resign

All of the Virginia governor’s allies have abandoned him after a racist photo surfaced.

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam prepares to address a press conference at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. Steve Helber/AP Photo

Facts matter: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter. Support our nonprofit reporting. Subscribe to our print magazine.

Democrats may be fractured on Medicare-for-all and foreign policy, but one thing has united them: a push for Virginia’s Democratic governor, Ralph Northam, to resign.

Party leaders rushed to condemn Northam after news broke about his appearance in a racist photo in his 1984 medical school yearbook. Northam issued an apology for appearing in the photo, which featured a man in blackface along with another in a Klan robe, and indicated he planned to stay in office. But public opinion quickly turned against him. 

Presidential contenders Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), and former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Julian Castro all called for Northam’s resignation, along with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who’s also considering running.

Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D), with whom Northam served as lieutenant governor, also called on him to resign, saying, “This has been a heartbreaking day. Ralph Northam is my friend and he served well as my Lt. Governor and as Governor. His actions on display in this photo were racist, unacceptable and inexcusable at any age and any time. The situation that he has put himself and the Commonwealth of Virginia in is untenable. It’s time for Ralph to step down, and for the Commonwealth to move forward.”

In Virginia, the full Democratic caucuses of both the state house and senate have called on Northam to step down, leaving him without a single important supporter in his bid to remain in office. 

If Northam resigns, he will be replaced by Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, a descendant of slaves who would become only the second black governor in Virginia’s history. 

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate