WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Senior Democrats on Sunday accused embattled Virginia Governor Ralph Northam of being dishonest and urged him to resign after he backtracked from an earlier admission that he appeared in racist garb in a yearbook picture.
Northam, a Democrat attempting to withstand mounting stress from his get together to step down, on Saturday walked again his admission that he was one among two individuals proven within the picture from his 1984 medical faculty yearbook, one particular person in blackface standing subsequent to a different in a Ku Klux Klan costume.
Northam, who took workplace a 12 months in the past, had admitted on Friday he was within the picture from the 1980s.
At the same time as he denied it on Saturday, he admitted to dressing up in blackface to mimic the late pop star Michael Jackson in a dance contest across the similar time.
“He’s being utterly dishonest and disingenuous,” Democratic U.S. Consultant Karen Bass stated on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
“I believe given the general local weather round race on this nation, particularly during the last two years, it’s utterly unacceptable,” stated Bass, who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus.
She additionally took difficulty with Northam’s declare that sporting blackface was commonplace in 1984.
“He’s principally saying that he participated in it and particularly when he described the time that he did the Michael Jackson impression,” stated Bass. “He even acted on the press convention like he was keen to moon stroll till his spouse stopped him, which reveals that he nonetheless doesn’t perceive the seriousness of his actions.”
Bass’ sentiment was echoed by Donald McEachin, a black Home member from Virginia, who stated he had spoken to Northam on Friday and that the governor was apologetic.
“So I used to be actually stunned when the following day he comes out and says it’s not him,” McEachin, a Democrat, additionally stated on “Meet the Press.” “That was fairly a shock to me.”
Former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe, who has referred to as for Northam to resign, stated he believed he would achieve this.
“It doesn’t matter whether or not he was in that picture or not within the picture at this level. We’ve to shut that chapter,” McAuliffe stated on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“And if Ralph is watching this right now, I understand how a lot he loves this Commonwealth of Virginia. And you’ve got to make the appropriate determination. You’ve got to make the appropriate ethical determination.”
Democratic get together strategists fear that the controversy may harm the get together’s possibilities within the 2020 presidential election. Virginia is a aggressive state that leans Democratic.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, a Democrat weighing a 2020 presidential run, has additionally urged Northam to step down.
Different outstanding Democrats – together with 2020 presidential candidates Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Cory Booker, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Julian Castro, a former high U.S. housing official – have been calling on Northam to resign since Friday.
Northam, a 59-year-old pediatric neurologist and Military veteran, graduated from Jap Virginia Medical Faculty in 1984.
Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Modifying by Jeffrey Benkoe