We almost got him to dance the moonwalk.
Let’s back up. In a press conference, Governor Ralph “Coonman” Northam announced he’s NOT resigning, and that he’s definitely not in the racist photo, and he knows he would remember if he were because he definitely remembers that other time he dressed in blackface for a Michael Jackson dance contest (which, he felt the need to point out, he won). He also revealed that he just found out that blackface is offensive while campaigning around the state with a black campaign aide in 2017.
Also, when asked if he still knew how to moonwalk he looked around the stage as if seeing if he had the room to do so, until the First Lady of Virginia advised that it probably wasn’t the appropriate time to try it out. As if things weren’t weird enough already.
If you missed the press conference, or want to re-watch it while eating popcorn and/or drinking bourbon while reflecting on what it means to be a Virginian, the full video can be found here.
Whomever the press conference was supposed to appeal to, it didn’t work. No one who had previously called for Northam to resign is changing their tune, and more have joined the chorus since. With no political support from his allies, it’s hard to see how Northam imagines he can continue on.
Political Reactions [UPDATED 6:54 p.m.]
Sens. Mark Warner & Tim Kaine & Rep. Bobby Scott
These three were the biggest remaining holdouts, beyond Justin Fairfax (see below), and they just released their collective statement Saturday evening. Also, their statement specifically refers to Northam’s performance during the press conference as the last straw.
— Glenn Thrush (@GlennThrush) February 2, 2019
During the press conference, Northam touted his support from the man who would be Governor, Justin Fairfax. It’s a particularly lousy thing to weaponize political loyalty, as Fairfax has a difficult needle to thread to respond to Northam genuinely without appearing self-serving. Northam’s callousness threatens to kneecap his successor and hamper the healing that such a transition is supposed to work towards.
Fairfax released a statement after the press conference:
— David Culver (@David_Culver) February 2, 2019
The third member of the 2017 ticket stands the lose the most. Herring already put off his inevitable run for Governor once, in order to run for re-election and clear the path for Northam. Herring has already announced his interest in 2021, but if Fairfax becomes Governor and runs again, it’s difficult to see Herring being able to mount a primary challenge. Nonetheless, Herring called for Northam’s resignation and pledged his support to Fairfax:
Virginia AG calls on Northam to resign, says he will support LG Fairfax.
Herring had already announced he had planned to run for Gov in 2021, and many assumed the primary would be b/w him and Fairfax. pic.twitter.com/DupCgYfWaf
— Mallory Noe-Payne (@MalloryNoePayne) February 2, 2019
Virginia Legislative Black Caucus
The VLBC put out a new statement this morning, and Del. Jeff Bourne posted on Twitter after the press conference:
This press conference was not helpful. Admitted blackface is no less despicable than the pics that @GovernorVA now disavows. Let no more time pass before the fmr president of the honor Corp does the honorable thing. https://t.co/7lXOYswUrr
— Jeff Bourne (@JeffMBourne) February 2, 2019
Virginia Senate Democrats
The Democratic Caucus Twitter feed broke the news this morning that Northam wouldn’t resign, despite their asking him to. The press conference did not change their mind:
— VA Senate Democrats (@VASenateDems) February 2, 2019
Not a surprise, but RPV previously called for Northam to step down and reiterated that call afterwards:
Our call for Ralph Northam's resignation stands. His self-serving statements did nothing to rectify his past indiscretions. His stance on life and his racist past are inexcusable. Like we said yesterday, Governor Northam has lost the moral authority to govern our Commonwealth.
— Virginia GOP (RPV) (@VA_GOP) February 2, 2019
DNC/Tom Perez/Nancy Pelosi
Some new voices joined the fray, in addition to Herring above. The DNC officially cut bait, with DNC Chairman Tom Perez and Nancy Pelosi both asking Northam to step aside.
JUST IN: DNC Chair Tom Perez calls for Gov. Northam to resign: "Virginians and people across the country deserve better from their leaders, and it is clear that Ralph Northam has lost their trust and his ability to govern." pic.twitter.com/rvgWHrtXB5
— NBC Politics (@NBCPolitics) February 2, 2019
Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney
Stoney’s statement came after the press conference, and made it clear he was not impressed:
I have not changed my position. The Governor didn’t put anything behind us by creating even more confusion, anger and disbelief. I still believe the Governor should do the honorable thing and step down so we can move forward.
— Levar M. Stoney (@LevarStoney) February 2, 2019
Gerry Connolly & Don Beyer
The two Northern Virginia Congressman were conspicuously absent yesterday, but joined the resignation chorus after the press conference:
— Gerry Connolly (@GerryConnolly) February 2, 2019
Best of Twitter Responses
As you can imagine, the press conference was surreal, with the Governor at times making jokes despite the serious nature of the scandal and the racial wounds his actions represent. Everyone knew it would be must-see TV, but I don’t think we were prepared for how bizarre it would all go. Fortunately, Twitter was there to point it out in real time:
Yearbook meeting, 1984:
"Anyone know where this racist photo goes?"
"Probably on Coonman's page, right?"
"Oh, yes. Of course."
— Jon Ralston (@RalstonReports) February 2, 2019
Ralph Northam- Everyone knows that shoe polish is hard to get off your face!
99.9% of people- What?
Rep. Steve King- Ain’t that the truth Ralph!
— Tony Posnanski (@tonyposnanski) February 2, 2019
"Governor, a follow-up if I may. In your blackface, were you "Off The Wall" Michael Jackson, "Thriller" MJ, "Bad" MJ or "Dangerous" MJ — because these are very different shades of offense. Also, do you think it makes a difference if you're black or white?"
— Robert A George (@RobGeorge) February 2, 2019
— Double L must Rock The Bells (@LoveThePuck) February 2, 2019
Shaggy’s little known B-Side “It wasn’t me that time but I did something similar once in San Antonio” https://t.co/77ZIicq5ba
— Josh Barro (@jbarro) February 2, 2019
If Virginia/DC had a tabloid, the odds of a “JUST BEAT IT” wood would be 100%.
— Nolan Hicks (@ndhapple) February 2, 2019
the oscar for best supporting actress goes to the flack who keeps trying gamely to end the press conference by saying "thanks guys"
— Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) February 2, 2019
I don't know, if my friends started calling me "Coonman," I'd take a step back and say, "Hey guys, why are you calling me 'Coonman?'"
— Chuck Ross (@ChuckRossDC) February 2, 2019
Ralph Northam is definitely not a smooth criminal.
— Esoteric Jeff (@EsotericCD) February 2, 2019
Hell of a long game played by the 1984 EVMS Harbour editor to stick it to his arch-nemesis Ralph Northam.
— Mac McClung Fan Account (@LPDonovan) February 2, 2019
behind every embattled governor is a first lady reminding him not to moonwalk at inappropriate moments
— Steadman™ (@AsteadWesley) February 2, 2019
And one final parting shot:
I thought that went well.
— Racist Ralph Northam (@RalphRacist) February 2, 2019
Banner image credit to C-Span.com