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Virginia Democrats turn on Northam, demand resignation after offensive photo

February 2, 2019

The Democratic Caucuses in Virginia’s state House and Senate both called Friday for Gov. Ralph Northam to resign, saying members have lost confidence in him to lead the state after a photo emerged of him and a friend with one in blackface and the other in a KKK outfit.

The Democrats said they had “trouble reconciling” the photo with their own experiences with the Democratic governor. But they said voters need to be able to trust their elected officials, and that’s no longer possible.

“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,” the House caucus said in a statement.

Senate Democrats also said they were shocked.

“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,” the Senate caucus said on Twitter.

While leaders across the Democratic Party nationally have made similar calls, the House Democratic Caucus’s decision to turn on the governor is particularly devastating because it was his massive election victory in 2017 and his electoral coattails that helped many of them get elected.

All 140 seats in the House and Senate are up for election this November, and Democrats had been hoping to win their first majorities in the chambers in two decades.

Earlier in the day, after the 1984 yearbook photo surfaced, Mr. Northam released both a written statement and a video Friday apologizing for the photo and vowing to work to regain voters’ trust but signaling no intention to step down.

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