Abrams Doesn’t Call On Embattled Virginia Democrats to Resign

Stacey Abrams / Getty Images

Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams wouldn't call on the embattled trio of Virginia Democrats to resign in an interview Thursday, saying they should take "responsibility for their decisions."

Abrams delivered the Democratic response to President Donald Trump's State of the Union address on Tuesday, another step to national prominence following a close election loss for governor in Georgia last year to Republican Brian Kemp. Abrams's historic candidacy—she would have been the first black female governor in U.S. history—and the contention over the campaign—she insists Kemp suppressed votes although the race had high turnout—made it one of the most watched races in 2018.

Speaking with BuzzFeed News show "AM to DM," she was asked whether Gov. Ralph Northam (D.) and the next two men down the pecking order should resign as they fight for their political lives:

Asked whether she thinks Virginia Governor Ralph Northam should resign over the racist yearbook photo of him which emerged last week, she said he and two other top Virginia Democrats who have been entangled in scandal this week should "take personal responsibility for their decisions." But she stopped short of calling for them to resign.

"I know this, these are men who have tried to do the right thing in their professional lives but I think they have to grapple with their private and personal decisions," she said, referring also to sexual assault allegations against Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax.

"I know that this is a difficult issue. I believe racism is wrong, I believe racist words and racist deeds require amends," she added. "And I would ask the state of Virginia, especially the governor, to think about what amends looks like in their state."

Virginia is embroiled in political turmoil following the discovery last week of a racist photo on Northam's medical school yearbook page. He initially apologized for being in the photo, which showed one man wearing a Ku Klux Klan outfit and another wearing blackface, but he then denied it was him in the particular photo before admitting he did once wear blackface for a Michael Jackson costume.

National and Virginia Democrats called on Northam to resign, but he has thus far refused to step down. Then, the situation for Virginia Democrats got messier when Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D.) was accused of a 2004 sexual assault at the Democratic National Convention. He emphatically denied the allegation and called it a "smear," but his accuser, Vanessa Tyson, has since identified herself and continued to insist the assault occurred.

Finally, Attorney General Mark Herring (D.) admitted on Wednesday that he also wore a blackface costume in the 1980s, leading to the possibility that the top three officials in Virginia could all be out of office if pressure for them to step down becomes too great.

Abrams is considering her political options for 2020, which could include challenging Sen. David Perdue (R., Ga.), a strong Trump supporter running for a second term.