Northam held an unscheduled senior staff meeting Sunday night to weigh support within his administration after several days of defying calls to step down over racist photographs in his medical school yearbook, Washington Post reported.
Fairfax, who is African-American, was reportedly absent from the meeting. He would replace Northam if the governor resigns.
“It’s time for Ralph Northam to step aside and let Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax serve Virginians as their next Governor. Justin is a dedicated public servant who is committed to building a brighter future for the Commonwealth of Virginia,” Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez said over the tumultuous weekend in Virginia politics.
Fairfax also has the full confidence of the state’s Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring.
“I have spoken with Lieutenant Governor Fairfax and assured him that, should he ascend to the governorship, he will have my complete support and commitment,” Herring stated.
On Friday, Northam apologized for appearing in a photograph of a person dressed in blackface and another person in a Ku Klux Klan robe from his 1984 medical school yearbook. One day later, at a bizarre press conference, the governor denied that he was one of those people in the picture but admitted to applying black shoe polish to his face for a Michael Jackson dance competition.
“Last night I finally had a chance to sit down and look at the photo in detail,” Northam stated. “It is not me.”
But on the Sunday morning political talk shows, Democrats continued to demand his resignation.
Fairfax said in a statement that he was “shocked and saddened” by the racist pictures that surfaced from Northam’s yearbook.
“…I cannot condone the actions from his past that, at the very least, suggest a comfort with Virginia’s darker history of white supremacy, racial stereotyping, and intimidation,” Fairfax added.
Meanwhile, Fairfax came out swinging Monday against a right-wing website that’s apparently trying to take him down after it surfaced Northam’s yearbook photos.
Fairfax threatened legal action against Big League Politics after it released information about a sexual assault alleged against him. He called the allegations “false and unsubstantiated” in a statement posted to Twitter.
Fairfax said the person who made the allegation approached The Washington Post with the story more than a year ago. But after investigating it for several months, the newspaper decided not to publish the fake story.