Report: Gov. Northam tells top staff he will not resign

Northam says the photo "fell short of the standard you set for me when you elected me to be...
Northam says the photo "fell short of the standard you set for me when you elected me to be your governor.?
Updated: Feb. 8, 2019 at 5:53 PM EST
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RICHMOND, VA (AP/WWBT) - The Associated Press reported Friday that a top Virginia official said Gov. Ralph Northam will not resign over the racist yearbook photo.

The official says Northam told his Cabinet during a Friday afternoon meeting that he intends to stay, the AP reported. The official was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

According to the AP, Northam issued the following statement Friday afternoon:

It has been a painful week for all Virginians, and I am deeply sorry for causing this distraction from your important work. Our Commonwealth is in uncharted waters, and many of you are undoubtedly left confused and uncertain about what the future holds.

I want to assure you that the business of the Commonwealth and our duty as public servants will continue. You are doing that work well and I know that will not change. You have placed your trust in me to lead Virginia forward—and I plan to do that.

Pam and I are grateful for the hard work of every employee in this Commonwealth. You have been in our hearts and thoughts, and we are reminded each day that there is no better place to live and work.

On Feb. 1, he took responsibility for that photo but says in the hours following, he reflected with family and friends and does not believe the photo is of him because he has no memory of it. Northam said that Friday was the first time he saw the yearbook that includes someone in blackface and a KKK robe.

“It hit me like a ton of bricks. Was totally caught off guard when I saw the picture,” Northam said.

While Northam said this is not him in the photo, he said that he did dress up as Michael Jackson when he was 25 years old and darken his face for a dance contest.

State Sen. Chap Petersen issued a statement Friday saying he’s spent the week meeting with voters to discuss the discovery of a racist photograph on the 1984 medical school yearbook page of Gov. Ralph Northam. Petersen’s Democratic-leaning district includes Fairfax and Vienna.

Peterson said he’s concluded that he “will not request the Governor’s resignation,” nor that of any other official who hasn’t obviously committed a crime in office or seen their ability to serve “irredeemably compromised.”

Northam also received support from the National Black Farmers Association on Friday.

Controversy has swirled around the Capitol throughout the week as Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax faced sexual assault allegations and Attorney General Mark Herring admitted to wearing blackface at a party in 1980.

A statement released by a law firm Wednesday graphically describes an allegation against Fairfax forcing the woman to “perform oral sex on him."

Fairfax strongly denied the allegation Monday after it was circulated on a conservative website before the explicit details were released.

On Wednesday, Fairfax issued a statement saying it is important to listen to women while still denying the accusation against him.

“While this allegation has been both surprising and hurtful, I also recognize that no one makes charges of this kind lightly, and I take it and this situation very seriously,” Fairfax said in the statement. “This has been an emotional couple of days for me and my family. And in my remarks on Monday, I think you could hear how emotional dealing with an allegation that I know is not true has been for me.”

In a statement issued Wednesday, Herring says he wore brown makeup and a wig to look like a black rapper during a party as an undergraduate at the University of Virginia.

“That conduct clearly shows that, as a young man, I had a callous and inexcusable lack of awareness and insensitivity to the pain my behavior could inflict on others," said Herring in the statement. " ... This conduct is in no way reflective of the man I have become in the nearly 40 years since."

Copyright 2019 Associated Press/WWBT. All rights reserved.