Embattled Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam has said privately he does not think he is in the racist photo from his 1984 medical school yearbook, according to a new report.
A fellow Virginia Democrat told the Associated Press Northam said he doesn’t believe he is in the photo — a departure from his initial statement apologizing for being the photo, which shows a man in blackface and a man wearing Ku Klux Klan robes and hood — and will not resign.
Northam, who was expected to hold a press conference Saturday morning, will appear at 2:30 p.m. to address the situation, according to CNN correspondent Ryan Nobles.
The AP reported Northam is making calls to garner support. State and national Democrats had mounted calls Friday and Saturday for Northam to resign, including from the state Democratic Party and key state legislative Democratic caucuses.
The 59-year-old said in a statement and video on Friday that he was committed to serving the remainder of his term. A Northam spokeswoman told CBS on Saturday afternoon he will not resign.
“I’ve spent the last year as your governor, fighting for a Virginia that works better for all people. I’m committed to continuing that fight through the remainder of my term and living up to the expectations you set for me when you elected me to serve,” he said.
Racism had been an issue in the then-lieutenant governor’s campaign against Ed Gillespie, as Northam attacked his opponent’s campaign ads about undocumented immigrants as “ racist rhetoric and fearmongering.”
Now, the calls have been mounting for Northam to step aside for Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who is black. The 39-year-old was the second African-American elected to statewide office in the Southern state, and was expected to campaign for the top job in 2021. Virginia governors cannot run for consecutive terms.
It was the second scandal in a week for Northam, who had come under fire from conservatives for his statements about state legislation that would ease restrictions on third-trimester abortions. The pediatric neurologist had called the furor over his abortion comments “shameful and disgraceful.”