Northam: ‘I’m not go­ing any­where’

Em­bat­tled gover­nor says state needs him to heal it.

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - NATION & WORLD - BY ALAN SU­D­ER­MAN

RICH­MOND, Va. — Demo­cratic Vir­ginia Gov. Ralph Northam con­sid­ered re­sign­ing amid a scan­dal that he once wore black­face, but the pe­di­atric neu­rol­o­gist said Sun­day that he’s “not go­ing any­where” be­cause the state “needs some­one that can heal” it.

Northam said on CBS’ “Face the Na­tion” that it’s been a dif­fi­cult week since a racist photo in his 1984 med­i­cal school year­book sur­faced, show­ing a per­son wear­ing black­face next to a sec­ond per­son wear­ing a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe.

Northam ini­tially said he had ap­peared in the photo — although he didn’t say which cos­tume he was wear­ing — and apol­o­gized. The next day, how­ever, he de­nied be­ing in the photo, while ac­knowl­edg­ing that he had worn black­face to a dance party that same year.

“Vir­ginia needs some­one that can heal. There’s no bet­ter per­son to do that than a doc­tor,” Northam said. “Vir­ginia also needs some­one who is strong, who has em­pa­thy, who has courage and who has a moral com­pass. And that’s why I’m not go­ing any­where.”

Northam’s po­lit­i­cal tur­moil comes as the two other top Democrats in the state face their own po­ten­tially ca­reerend­ing scan­dals, with al­le­ga­tions of sex­ual as­sault against Lt. Gov. Justin Fair­fax — Northam’s suc­ces­sor if the gover­nor were to re­sign — and At­tor­ney Gen­eral Mark Her­ring ac­knowl­edg­ing that he wore black­face at a party in 1980. Her­ring would be­come gover­nor if both Northam and Fair­fax re­signed.

The scan­dals have be­come a full-blown cri­sis for Vir­ginia Democrats. Although the party has taken an al­most zero-tol­er­ance ap­proach to mis­con­duct among its mem­bers in this #Me­Too era, a house­clean­ing in Vir­ginia could be costly: If all three Democrats re­signed, Repub­li­can state House Speaker Kirk Cox would be­come gover­nor.

The scan­dals also could hurt the Democrats’ chances of flip­ping con­trol of the Gen­eral As­sem­bly. All 140 leg­isla­tive seats will be up for grabs in Novem­ber, and Democrats had pre­vi­ously been hope­ful that voter an­tipa­thy to­ward Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump would help them ce­ment Vir­ginia’s sta­tus as a blue state.

Now, many fret their cri­sis in lead­er­ship will not only cost them chances of win­ning GOP-held seats, but also sev­eral seats held by Democrats.

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