Virginia Governor Northam Controversy


Staff Reporter

Virginia Governor and Democrat Ralph Northam is facing criticism due to a controversial 1984 medical school yearbook photo leak.

About a week ago, a supposed photo of Northam and one of his former classmates surfaced. Within the picture are two men, one wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe and the other in ‘black face’ paint. Northam initially confirmed that he is in the picture but withheld as to which of the two he is.

However, Northam recently retracted his earlier comment and has denied the claims that it is he within the racist photo.

Ralph Shearer Northam, the 73rd Governor of Virginia, has served for little over one year now.

Political figures from both parties have called for the resignation of the current governor.

According to Associated Press, “Others said there was no question he should step down. Among them: Democratic presidential hopefuls Cory Booker, Julian Castro, Kirsten Gillibrand, Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren; newly elected Democratic U.S. Reps. Elaine Luria and Abigail Spanberger of Virginia; the NAACP and Planned Parenthood.”

“In light of the denial, just resigning because of the accusations is not enough. I think you need more firm evidence in an investigation into whether or not he is in that picture,” said Dr. Gary Rose, Professor and Chair in the Department of Government at Sacred Heart University.

Dr. Rose believes that Northam resigning would be the right direction to take in the eyes of the Democratic Party. Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax of Virginia would succeed Northam if he resigned. Fairfax is also under fire due to sexual harassment accusations from a woman he was formerly associated with, but Fairfax wrote it off as a “political smear.”

“For the benefit of the Democratic Party and for the benefit of Virginia, it would be advantageous for Fairfax to take that position. But at the same time follow through with the investigation on Northam,” said Rose.

Like Professor Rose, some Sacred Heart students also believe that Gov. Northam should resign to avoid any further controversy.

“I personally think that he should resign,” said senior education major Anthony Orzo. “Now that the picture has surfaced, it has left behind a digital footprint that can never be erased, therefore tarnishing his reputation and giving people reason to judge his character in a way so that can’t be erased.”

Black lawmakers said they met with Northam Friday evening, and said in a statement they appreciate his service. “But given what was revealed today, it is clear that he can no longer effectively serve as governor,” the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus said. (AP)

Northam’s response to this controversy is no more than at first confirming his being in the photo then denying it days later. Other than those regards, Northam has hid from the public eye since, according to AP news.

“I think that he should resign because as the Governor of Virginia he needs to hold himself accountable and to a higher standard compared to your average Joe,” said senior communications major Mike Marino.

Many are still unsure what the Democratic party of Virginia has planned for the future. President Trump tweeted earlier this week, “Democrats at the top are killing the Great State of Virginia. If the three failing polls were Republicans, far stronger action would be taken. Virginia will come back HOME Republican in 2020!”

This photo has led to much controversy, and Virginia’s population, as well as the rest of the country, are still awaiting a clear response from Gov. Northam.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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