DGA Publicly Praises Northam for First Time Since Yearbook Scandal

The organization has not retracted its call for Northam to resign

Virginia Governor Ralph Northam / Getty Images
July 11, 2019

The Democratic Governors Association (DGA) publicly praised Virginia governor Ralph Northam Wednesday on its Twitter feed for the first time since a photo from the governor's medical school yearbook page emerged featuring an individual in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe.

The Wednesday morning tweet appears to be the first time the committee has tweeted about the scandal-plagued governor since October of 2018. The racist photo on Northam's medical school yearbook first began circulating on February 1 of this year.

The DGA, which contributed over $6 million to Northam's 2017 gubernatorial campaign, called for the governor to resign a day after the photo was shared, saying the photo was "racist and inexcusable."

Rhode Island governor Gina Raimondo, who leads the DGA, doubled down on the committee's statement three weeks later in February at a news conference in her home state.

"It's a very, very disappointing and challenging set of circumstances in Virginia," Raimondo said at the time. "We felt that in light of these circumstances, it was appropriate, and stand by that."

Raimondo's follow up statement came after sexual assault allegations against Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax came to light and the Democratic state attorney general admitted to wearing blackface while an undergraduate.

A spokesman for the DGA who worked on Northam's successful 2017 gubernatorial campaign, did not respond to requests from the Washington Free Beacon about whether the committee still stood by its calls for Northam to resign.

Despite calls from both Democratic legislative caucuses as well as numerous national Democratic politicians, Northam refused to resign and has slowly been building back up his political capital in the state.

In June, the Free Beacon was the first to report that Northam's political action committee had begun quietly donating to a set of state legislative candidates. The $85,000 in donations was the first public activity from Northam's Way Ahead PAC since the yearbook scandal.

During an interview Wednesday with CNBC, Northam apologized for hurting or confusing Virginians and acknowledged he "didn't handle" the controversy as well as he should have.

"I want to let this country know, and certainly Virginians know, that we are an inclusive state," Northam added.

Democrats in the state are eager to flip both the Virginia state Senate and the House of Delegates this fall as both chambers are controlled by Republicans by only one vote.

The Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, the Democratic Party of Virginia, and both state legislative caucuses announced a partnership with Northam's PAC in late June, which was described as the "largest coordinated field campaign in the Commonwealth's history."

If Democrats flip both chambers in November, they would have an all-Democratic state government in Virginia for the first time in over 20 years.