UPDATED: Reactions Rolling In to Northam’s Surreal Press Conference

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.

Justin Fairfax

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:

Mark Herring

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 Legislative Black Caucus

The VLBC put out a new statement this morning, and Del. Jeff Bourne posted on Twitter after the press conference:

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:


Not a surprise, but RPV previously called for Northam to step down and reiterated that call afterwards:

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.

Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney

Stoney’s statement came after the press conference, and made it clear he was not impressed:

Gerry Connolly & Don Beyer

The two Northern Virginia Congressman were conspicuously absent yesterday, but joined the resignation chorus after the press conference:


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:

And one final parting shot:


Banner image credit to C-Span.com