Virginia governor weighs his future
By ALAN SUDERMAN
RICHMOND, Va. — A political death watch took shape at Virginia’s Capitol as Gov. Ralph Northam consulted with top administration officials Monday about whether to resign amid a furor over a racist photo in his 1984 yearbook.
Practically all of the state’s Democratic establishment — and Republican leaders, too — turned against the 59-year-old Democrat after the picture surfaced late last week of someone in blackface next to another person in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe. The photo was on Northam’s medical school yearbook page.
The sense of crisis deepened Monday as the politician next in line to be governor, Democratic Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, denied an uncorroborated allegation of sexual misconduct first reported by a conservative website. Fairfax told reporters that the 2004 encounter with a woman was consensual, and he called the accusation a political “smear.”
Protest chants, meanwhile, echoed around Capitol Square. Lobbyists complained they were unable to get legislators to focus on bills. Security guards joked about who was going to be the next governor. And banks of news cameras were set up outside the governor’s Executive Mansion.
According to a top administration official, Northam stayed out of sight as he met with his Cabinet.