Will Ralph Northam Resign? Top Democrats Demand Virginia Governor Step Down Over Photo With Blackface, KKK Robe

A photo of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam that surfaced Friday has folks in the Commonwealth State, and those around the country, wondering if he'll resign. Now leaders from the Democrat party, including two 2020 presidential candidates, are calling for the Democratic governor to step aside.

A photo from the 1984 yearbook for Eastern Virginia Medical School shows two people on Northam's personal page — one in blackface and another in a KKK hood and robe. Northam released a statement Friday confirming he was one of the men in the photo, but didn't say which one he portrayed.

"Earlier today, a website published a photograph of me from my 1984 medical school yearbook in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive," Northam said of the photo first published by The Virginian-Pilot. "I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision cased then and now."

Friday evening, Gov. Northam released a 1-minute video of his apology, stating what he did was "wrong," and that he isn't that way as the people who elected him.

The reactions Friday from social media have been swift, with many people calling for his resignation. Should Northam step down, then Democrat Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax would assume the governor's office.

Kamala Harris, the California senator who announced this week she will run for president in the 2020 Democratic Primary, said Northam should step down as "Leaders are called to a higher standard, and the stain of racism should have no place in the halls of government. The Governor of Virginia should step aside so the public can heal and move forward together."

Julian Castro, who's the former San Antonio mayor and Obama cabinet member who has also made a 2020 Democratic presidential bid, also said the Virginia governor should resign.

Derrick Johnson, an NAACP president from Mississippi, said "Black face in any manner is always racist and never okay. No matter the party affiliation, we can not stand for such behavior, which is why the @NAACP is calling for the resignation of Virginia Governor."

However, Northam's released statement on Friday insinuated he was not ready to resign over the photo.

"I recognize that it will take time and serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused," he said. "I am ready to do that important work."

Should Northam still be in office by Tuesday night, it could find its way into President Donald Trump's State of the Union address, which wouldn't bode well for Democrats, who would most likely stand up to applaud the president if he has to call for Northam's resignation.

Northam is no stranger to Virginia state politics. He served two terms as a state senator and a four-year term as lieutenant governor before winning the governor's seat in 2017. However, this photo just made it to the world today.

Should Fairfax become the new governor, this Philadelphia Inquirer columnists says the new governor "supports expanding health care, a higher minimum wage, and would be a FANTASTIC governor. Just do it, Virginia. Tonight, if possible"

Fairfax is a descendant of slaves, and he was the only state legislator to step away from the dais during a recent tribute to Gen. Robert E. Lee. Fairfax tweeted this when he stepped aside:

"History repeats itself. I will be stepping off the dais today in protest of the Virginia Senate honoring Robert E. Lee. I'll be thinking of this June 5, 1798 manumission document that freed my great-great-great grandfather Simon Fairfax from slavery in Virginia. #WeRiseTogether"