Democrats, Republicans, other public figures call on Gov. Ralph Northam to resign


RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY) — Governor Ralph Northam faces calls to resign from figures across the political spectrum, including local representatives Bobby Scott, Elaine Luria and Rob Wittman and even artist John Legend, who’s long been considered quiet on social issues. 

This comes after a photo of two people — one in a Ku Klux Klan outfit and the other in blackface — was featured in his 1984 yearbook page at Eastern Virginia Medical School. 

Northam, after apologzing for the photo on Friday, has since stated neither of the individuals in the photo are him. 

Despite the criticism, Northam announced in a video statement later Friday night that he had no plans to resign and intended to finish his term. 

Here’s a list of those who’ve called for his resignation from both the left and right. WAVY will continue to add to this list as they come in: 


Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring: 

“It is no longer possible for Governor Northam to lead our Commonwealth and it is time for him to step down. I have spoken with Lieutenant Governor Fairfax and assured him that, should he ascend to the governorship, he will have my complete support and commitment to ensuring his success and the success of our Commonwealth.”

Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax:

House Democratic Caucus

“We are so deeply saddened by the news that has been revealed today. We are having trouble reconciling our experience with Governor Northam with what we see in this photo. The Governor Northam we know is a great friend and ally, who has served and dedicated himself to our Commonwealth and the nation.

“However, constituents’ trust in their elected officials is paramount. We regret to say that we are no longer confident in the Governor’s representation of Virginians. Though it brings us no joy to do so, we must call for Governor Northam’s resignation.” 

Virginia Senate Democratic Caucus

“After seeing the yearbook pictures that surfaced of Governor Northam today, we were shocked, saddened and offended. Virginia has a complicated racial history and past, and those pictures certainly reflect that. Black face was used to ridicule African Americans and the Klan was a source of terror and intimidation. The racism engendered by these images was real then and resurrected by these images today. We are beyond disappointed. The Ralph Northam we know is a pediatric neurologist, a dedicated public servant, and a committed husband and father. Nevertheless, it is with heavy hearts that we have respectfully asked him to step down.”

Former Virginia Governor Douglas Wilder: 

Elaine Luria of Virginia’s 2nd Congressional District 

“We need leaders who will bring us together instead of driving us apart. While it was proper for Governor Northam to apologize, there is no excuse for this type of photograph then or now,” Congresswoman Luria said. “Unfortunately, the existence of this photograph does not bring us together. I ask Governor Northam to resign. This isn’t about politics, this is about what is right and wrong.”

Delegate Stephen Heretick of Virginia’s 79th District to 10 On Your Side: 

“I want to believe that, that is not the Ralph Northam I know personally, but by the same token having admitted it, and then to pull it back, I don’t know where we are.”

Congressman Bobby Scott of Virginia’s 3rd District said Friday that Northam must make the “right decision”

“It is never easy to condemn a personal friend, but Governor Northam’s past behavior is indefensible. I know the Governor has dedicated his life to public service, and he has advanced policies to help African Americans and Virginians from all walks of life. I take him at his word that he is deeply sorry, and that he understands that his behavior was inappropriate and offensive. History will have to judge his life and public record, and this chapter will be a major stain on that record. The Governor must now make the right decision that is best for the Commonwealth of Virginia.”

On Saturday, Scott joined a statement with Senator Tim Kaine and Senator Mark Warner asking Northam to resign, listed below. 

Virginia Senator Mark Warner, who didn’t specifically call for a resignation on Friday, said Northam should “carefully consider what comes next.” 

“This photo is shocking and deeply offensive, all the more so because of Virginia’s long and painful history of racism and violence toward African Americans. The Governor must now listen to the people and communities he has hurt, and carefully consider what comes next.”

He later joined a statement with Congressman Bobby Scott and Senator Tim Kaine, listed below. 

Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, Senator Mark Warner and Congressman Bobby Scott released a joint statement on Saturday: 

“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. Governor Northam has served the people of the Commonwealth faithfully for many years, but the events of the past 24 hours have inflicted immense pain and irrevocably broken the trust Virginians must have in their leaders. He should step down and allow the Commonwealth to begin healing.”

Presidential candidate and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (California) 

Guy Cecil, chair of Democratic super PAC Priorities USA

“I believe in personal forgiveness & public repentance. That is not the same as deserving the confidence bestowed in our elected officials. The picture was horrifying and deserves a clear response. Ralph Northam should resign.

President candidates and Former HUD Secretary Julian Castro 

Guy Cecil, chair of Democratic super PAC Priorities USA

“I believe in personal forgiveness & public repentance. That is not the same as deserving the confidence bestowed in our elected officials. The picture was horrifying and deserves a clear response. Ralph Northam should resign.”



President Donald Trump gave his thoughts on Twitter: 

Virginia GOP 

“What Ralph Northam did was unforgivable. Given his statements on the right to life coupled with the most recent revelations, he has lost the moral authority to continue to govern and should resign immediately.”

Republican Party of Virginia Chairman Jack Wilson

“Racism has no place in Virginia. These pictures are wholly inappropriate. If Governor Northam appeared in blackface or dressed in a KKK robe, he should resign immediately.”

Eastern Shore Republican Units (Northam is from the Eastern Shore)

“As Chairman’s of the Accomack and Northampton County Republican Units, we call on the Governor to take the appropriate steps and resign. He has now released a statement that has admitted his “mistakes” and should do the right thing and resign as Governor. Hearing his words yesterday about infanticide and then seeing the pictures and nicknames from his past that has recently surfaced today as reported by national media, he is not who he has tried to portray himself to be, nor is he who the Eastern Shore wants representing us. I call on the Chairman’s of the Accomack and Northampton Democratic Unit to call for Governor Northam’s resignation. Racism and discrimination have no place in our society. The Republican Party believes in equal rights and justice for ALL individuals.” 

Congressman Rob Wittman of Virginia’s 1st Congressional District 

“The racist photo of Governor Northam on his EVMS yearbook page is absolutely disturbing and unacceptable. The hateful rhetoric that this photo represents has no place in our Commonwealth, and especially not the Governor’s mansion.”

Former Congressman Scott Taylor

“If this was a Republican, every Democrat in #Virginia would be calling for his resignation ASAP.”

Congressman Denver Riggleman of Virginia’s 5th Congressional District 

“As a Virginian & Rep. of Charlottesville, @GovernorVA yearbook photos hit more than a nerve. This Virginian demands an explanation. Now. Issues of racial discrimination cannot be taken lightly & this type of behavior is dangerous & unacceptable in any form.”

Delegate David Yancey of Virginia’s 94th House District: 

Other notable figures and organizations

Virginia Beach Chapter of the NAACP: 

“The Virginia Beach NAACP find the recent revelation and admission by governor, Ralph Northam, to be offensive and reprehensible. Since the 1830s individuals with blackened faces have imitated and codified blackness in language, movement, demeanor, and character. All done to demean and objectify Black people. Similarly, the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) established in 1866, main goal is to thwart policies aimed at establishing political and economic equality for people of color. It is concerning that this 30+ year old “secret” was not voluntarily revealed and apologized for by the governor during the many times he had the public’s ear. The governor no longer has the ear of this chapter, therefore resignation is the appropriate action at this point.”

Musician John Legend

“All I wanna know is the line of succession in VA. What a poetic ending it would be for the black Lt Gov to take over for the KKK cos-play governor.”

University of Virginia professor Larry Sabato (not a call to resign)

“If Ralph Northam resigns, he’ll be the 1st VA Gov since the civil war not to complete his term. VA appears to be the only state never to have had a succession in all those years. Also, if Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax becomes Gov, he would have the right to run for a full term in 2021.”

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