Virginia Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam is now reportedly claiming that it’s not him pictured in the racist photograph in his medical school yearbook of two individuals – one in blackface and another in a KKK outfit.
The governor’s new denial comes after he apologized on Friday for “the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now.”
According to The New York Times, Northam is now “calling state Democrats on Saturday to say he did not think it was him in the picture and that he would not resign.”
The Times also reports that Northam is considering using facial recognition software to prove that it’s not him in the photograph.
More from the report:
Mr. Northam, who apologized on Friday night, was increasingly isolated, but in phone calls on Saturday morning he said he had no recollection of the image of two men, one in blackface and the other in Ku Klux Klan robes. He was planning to make a statement in the afternoon that he did not think he was in either costume, according to a Virginia Democrat familiar with his planning who was not authorized to speak publicly.
In addition to calling state Democratic officials, Mr. Northam has been calling former classmates at Eastern Virginia Medical School in an effort to determine more information about the picture — and to survive a crisis that is threatening his year-old governorship. With the governor and his top advisers gathered in the executive residence next to the State Capitol in Richmond, the Democrat familiar with Mr. Northam’s calls said the governor was determined to prove it was not him in the photograph and was even considering using facial recognition software.
Growing calls for Northam to resign and let Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax take over
Given Northam’s shifting explanations for the photograph – first apologizing for it, now reportedly claiming it’s not him – it’s unclear whether we will definitively know who is pictured.
What is certain is that the racist image is on his yearbook page, regardless of whether it’s him, and that’s problematic in itself. Not to mention that the controversy has created a distraction in Virginia that will likely make it impossible for Northam to continue his work as governor.
As former Vice President Joe Biden tweeted on Saturday, Northam has “lost all moral authority and should resign immediately.”
“Justin Fairfax is the leader Virginia needs now,” Biden added.
There is no place for racism in America. Governor Northam has lost all moral authority and should resign immediately, Justin Fairfax is the leader Virginia needs now.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) February 2, 2019
If Lt. Gov. Fairfax succeeds Northam, he would be the second African American governor in the state’s history – a silver lining to what has quickly become a dark couple of days for Virginia.
Ralph Northam is expected to hold a press conference on Saturday afternoon but says he will not be using the opportunity to resign.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.