Democratic Virginia members of the US Congress insisted on Sunday that state governor Ralph Northam cannot remain in office after admitting that he wore blackface as a young man.
Jennifer Wexton, elected in November’s midterms, on Sunday stood by a previous call she made for Northam to step down.
And as the scandal in Virginia continues to boil, she told CBS’s Face the Nation that she also expects the state’s No 2, Democratic lieutenant governor Justin Fairfax, will “do the right thing for Virginia and resign”, citing “extremely credible” allegations of sexual assault made against him last week by two women.
Also on CBS, Representative Don Beyer called Northam’s initial admission, and then denials, that he was in a racist photo “very bizarre” and said the governor had lost too much credibility to stay in office. Northam had later acknowledged he wore blackface at a separate event in the 1980s, dressing up as Michael Jackson for a dance contest.
Beyer also said he believes the two women who have accused Fairfax of sexual assault. Beyer said if you believe the women, there is “no choice” but to call for Fairfax’s resignation. The congressman also said Democratic state attorney general Mark Herring, who also admitted to wearing blackface and is third in line to run the state if Northam and Fairfax are forced out, has been “very responsible” in owning up to his mistake.
Wexman is withholding judgement on Herring, acknowledging that he came forward “proactively” about his past error.
Meanwhile, after ignoring calls for his own resignation, Northam is declining to weigh in on whether Fairfax or Herring should step down. It was up to the men themselves, he told CBS.
He told Gayle King on Face the Nation that: “Yes, I have thought about resigning.” But he said he’s in a position to lead and that “Virginia needs someone that can heal”. He added: “That’s why I’m not going anywhere.”
But he also made another faux pas. He told King that 2019 would be the 400th anniversary of the first time “indentured servants” from Africa “landed on our shores”.
King quickly interjected: “Also known as slavery.”
“Yes, yes,” Northam replied, prompting exasperation from some commentators on social media.
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam called Black Americans who were forcefully enslaved “indentured servants” and Gayle King had to correct him. The fact that this man was not immediately removed from office after photos of him wearing Blackface and klan attire surfaced, is beyond me pic.twitter.com/rILtVbuLJE
— Tariq Nasheed 🇺🇸 (@tariqnasheed) 10 февраля 2019 г.