Virginia Democratic Lieutenant Gov. Justin Fairfax condemned Gov. Ralph Northam’s racist yearbook photo that surfaced Friday, but stopped short of joining the chorus of Democrats calling for Northam to resign.
Fairfax issued a stern rebuke of the governor roughly 24 hours after the photo emerged in Northam’s yearbook that showed two men dressed up in racist attire, one in blackface and the other in a Ku Klux Klan outfit.
— Justin Fairfax (@LGJustinFairfax) February 2, 2019
“I am shocked and saddened by the images in the Governor’s yearbook that came to light yesterday,” Fairfax said. “I have worked closely with Ralph Northam over many years. He has been a friend to me and has treated my family and me with hospitality and respect.”
Fairfax went on to praise Northam’s work as a doctor and public servant, but made clear that he did not condone the photo.
“While [Northam’s] career has been marked by service to children, soldiers, and constituents, I cannot condone the actions from his past that, at the very least, suggest a comfort with Virginia’s darker history of White supremacy, racial stereotyping, and intimidation,” Fairfax continued. “I remain committed to serving and helping to heal the Commonwealth moving forward. Now more than ever, we must make decisions in the best interests of the people of the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
Northam initially claimed responsibility and apologized to Virginians in a video Friday night. On Saturday, Northam held a press conference where he admitted to having worn blackface in the past, but denied appearing in the yearbook photo.
The embattled governor is refusing to resign, despite intense bipartisan pressure for him to do so.