If current Virginia governor Ralph Northam (D) thought his statement on Saturday would ease the pressure on him to resign, he was mistaken.

A growing number of Democrats are calling for the embattled governor to resign, and a last-minute Super Bowl Sunday urgent meeting between Northam and “top-level” staff, including Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, suggests that Northam may be planning to resign.


NPR reports:

Democratic leaders have continued to press Gov. Ralph Northam to step down over a racist photo published on his 1984 medical school yearbook page.

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe appeared Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, and said resigning is “morally the right thing to do.” Northam was lieutenant governor under McAuliffe.

Virginia Democratic Rep. Donald McEachin told NBC’s Meet the Press, “I haven’t spoken to him since Friday, I believe. And at that time he was apologetic for having been in the photograph and that sort of thing. So, I was really surprised when the next day he comes out and says it’s not him.”

. . . .  On Sunday Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus told NPR’s Michel Martin for Weekend All Things Considered: “The governor has absolutely no credibility. One day he comes out and says, ‘I apologize for the photograph that I was in,’ and the next day, he goes, ‘Well, no actually, it wasn’t me, but I actually did do blackface that same year, but it was because I was imitating Michael Jackson, and I’m sure you see the difference between the two.’ No we don’t.”

Bass continued, “The way he has characterized 1984 … 1984 was an exciting year. Jesse Jackson was running for president. Nelson Mandela, we were hoping would be released. There was heightened racial consciousness, and for him to dare say, that during that year, during those times, blackface was common is just an outright lie. So I do not believe the governor has any credibility at all.”

Northam is also losing the support of other high profile Virginia Democrats, including the Democratic chair of the Legislative Black Caucus in Virginia.

NPR continues:

Democratic party leaders in Virginia told NPR they are also still grappling with the revelations about Northam. Lamont Bagby, the Democratic chair of the Legislative Black Caucus in Virginia, said the photo’s revelation was a “real gut check” because Northam was so well-regarded. “We absolutely love the man.”

Bagby said he is still in shock, and “reconciling the man that [Northam] was, and the man that he is today. I can’t imagine the man I know today participating in that.”

The photo “represents hate in the worst way,” Bagby said, adding it’s been “very painful, for many members of my caucus, that actually can recall being rushed from the home because of a threat from the Ku Klux Klan.”

Bagby said for members of the African-American community and many people in the commonwealth, “black face was never acceptable and it is not acceptable.”

Northam’s press conference “missed the mark,” Bagby said. He called the press conference an opportunity “for him to resign gracefully and we are disappointed that he didn’t do that.”

Other prominent Democrats are also calling for Northam’s resignation.

The New York Times is reporting that “Scholars and Virginia officials have been studying the State Constitution and its provisions to oust a sitting governor.”

Virginia’s Constitution allows the impeachments of governors for “offending against the Commonwealth by malfeasance in office, corruption, neglect of duty or other high crime or misdemeanor.” If Mr. Northam chooses to remain in office and legislators ultimately seek his impeachment, the House of Delegates would be the first legislative chamber to consider the matter. The Senate would conduct any subsequent trial and determine whether Mr. Northam kept power.

. . . .  The Virginia Constitution also offers a second, equally disruptive mechanism that is similar to the United States Constitution’s 25th Amendment. In Virginia, a triumvirate of officials — the attorney general, the speaker of the House of Delegates and the president pro tempore of the Senate — may conclude that a governor is “unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.” In such an instance, which can also be prompted by a majority of the Legislature, the lieutenant governor becomes the acting governor.

A governor may contest such a move by the state officials or the Legislature and seek reinstatement, setting up a more formal review process by the General Assembly.

It’s not clear from the NYT report who these “Virginia officials” are who are purportedly exploring removing Northam from office, but they do note that former Virginia governor Terry “McAuliffe said he did not anticipate there would be any proceedings like impeachment.”

“I know Ralph very well,” he said. “It will not come to that. And if Ralph is watching this today, I know how much he loves this Commonwealth of Virginia, and you’ve got to make the right decision. You’ve got to make the right moral decision.”

Vox has compiled a handy list of all those who have thus far called for Northam’s resignation.  It’s long, and as Vox notes, growing.

It’s difficult to see how he continues in office . . . or how he can gracefully resign at this point.

It seems, however, that he is deeply concerned, perhaps even contemplating bowing to the inevitable in the very near future.

 
 
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