NEW YORK – Democratic Virginia Sen. Mark Warner suggested Sunday that Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam should be given an opportunity to redeem himself after reports surfaced in February showing a photo from his school yearbook of people dressed in blackface and KKK robes. Warner had previously called for Northam’s resignation.
Both Northam and Lt. Gov. Justin Faifax should be allowed due process and a chance to make things right for their constituents, Warner told CNN’s Jake Tapper. The Democrat was responding to questions about what should be done about the governor and Fairfax, who allegedly sexually assaulted a woman several years ago.
“It’s been very challenging. But if the governor and lieutenant governor are going to continue, I think the lieutenant governor needs, there needs to be a due process where the accusers get a chance to make their case where the lieutenant governor gets a chance to make his defense,” Warner told Tapper without addressing whether he is still calling for Northam’s resignation.
Warner added: “When I called for his resignation along with my friend Tim Kaine, we said the governor had lost the faith of the people of Virginia. He has a right to try to regain that faith but I believe that will involve him getting out and making that case to Virginians.” Tapper interjected shortly thereafter and asked whether the senator is holding to his calls for resignation.
“I think we’ve made our, we made our call weeks ago,” Warner said in response as he continued to suggest that both Northam and Fairfax should be given the opportunity for redemption. “Both of these gentlemen, if they’re going to stay, there needs to be a process in place so they can go about trying to re-earn the faith of Virginians.”
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Warner called for Northam to resign his post shortly after the photos went public. “It is no longer possible for Gov. Northam to lead our Commonwealth and it is time for him to step down,” he told reporters in February. Northam later admitted at a press conference to painting his face black to imitate Michael Jackson at a dance contest in the early 1980s.
Many expected Fairfax to step in, but a woman has since lobbed a sexual assault allegation against him from 2004. Fairfax, a black Democrat, has continued to deny any of the allegations, comparing himself to those lynched in Virginia between 1877 and 1950 in regard to the absence due process.