As millions sat down to watch the Super Bowl, Virginia governor Ralph Northam called an urgent, closed-door meeting with top-level staffers, causing speculation that the embattled politician may be preparing to resign. According to ABC affiliate WJLA, Northam may be considering resigning from his position as more people call for the governor to step down after images allegedly showed him in a racist yearbook photo.
On Friday, an image surfaced from Northam’s 1984 medical school yearbook showing two men in costume. One is wearing a Ku Klux Klan robe and hood, and the other appears in blackface.
While at first it appeared that the governor admitted to appearing in the image, he later released a statement saying that he did believe that he was either individual in the photo.
“When I was confronted with the images yesterday, I was appalled that they appeared on my page, but I believed then and now that I am not either of the people in that photo,” he said.
Immediately, people on both sides of the aisle called for the governor to resign. Despite that, during a press event on Friday, Northam said he wouldn’t step down and asked for time to make things right. He also apparently reached out to State Senator Richard Stuart and confirmed that he had no plans to retire.
“I am simply asking for the opportunity to demonstrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that the person I was is not the man I am today. I am asking for the opportunity to earn your forgiveness,” Northam said.
My fellow Virginians, earlier today I released a statement apologizing for behavior in my past that falls far short of the standard you set for me when you elected me to be your governor. I believe you deserve to hear directly from me. pic.twitter.com/1rSw1oxfrX
— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) February 2, 2019
Even though he denied appearing in the photo, as the Inquisitr reported yesterday, Northam admitted to the press that he had appeared in blackface in the past. He said that in 1984, he had dressed as Michael Jackson for Halloween, wearing blackface as part of the costume.
“I had the shoes, I had a glove, and I used just a little bit of shoe polish to put under my, or on my cheeks,” he said. “And the reason I used a very little bit is because… you cannot get shoe polish off,” he added.
Reports of Northam’s emergency meeting say that several staffers attended the event, but Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax, who would replace Northam if he resigned, was not in attendance at the meeting. According to a source who spoke with the Washington Post, Northam spent most of Sunday at home with family and spoke with trusted advisers about whether or not he should resign.
The same source said that some of Northam’s staff have reached out to private firms about obtaining a job, adding fuel to the speculation that Northam is preparing to retire.
Northam’s wife is apparently urging her husband to stay in his position.