Virginia gubernatorial hopefuls highlight fundraising pulls

Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D), left, and Attorney General Mark Herring (D) 

Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring (D) admitted on Wednesday to wearing blackface in 1980. 

Herring's admission comes less than a week after Gov. Ralph Northam (D) faced questions and calls for his resignation over a racially offensive photo in his medical school yearbook. 

On Wednesday, Herring, a Loudoun County resident and former county supervisor, said as a 19-year-old undergraduate in college, some of his friends dressed like rappers — inspired by hip hop artist Kurtis Blow — wearing wigs and brown makeup. He was among them. 

"I am sure we all have done things at one time or another in our lives that show poor judgment, and worse yet, have caused some level of pain to others. I have a glaring example from my past that I have thought about with deep regret in the many years since, and certainly each time I took a step forward in public service, realizing that my goals and this memory could someday collide and cause pain for people I care about, those who stood with me in the many years since, or those who I hoped to serve while in office,” Herring said in a prepared statement. 

The attorney general continued, “That conduct clearly shows that, as a young man, I had a callous and inexcusable lack of awareness and insensitivity to the pain my behavior could inflict on others. It was really a minimization of both people of color, and a minimization of a horrific history I knew well even then." 

Herring said he is "deeply, deeply sorry" and hopes “in the days ahead, honest conversations and discussions will make it clear whether [he] can or should continue to serve as attorney general." 

Herring announced in late 2018 that he plans to seek the governor's mansion in 2021. 

Governor Northam initially apologized for being in the photo following its widespread release on Feb. 1, but the next day he said he does not believe it's him in the image. Northam has resisted calls from leaders of his own party to resign. The photo in question, which shows one person in blackface and another in a Ku Klux Klan robe, appeared on Northam’s 1984 yearbook page from Eastern Virginia Medical School. 

The medical school announced on Tuesday an independent investigation is underway pertaining to the photo in the yearbook. 

In addition to the Northam photo controversy, Virginia's Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D) is vehemently denying an unsubstantiated claim of sexual abuse perpetrated by him. Fairfax has said the sexual encounter, which happened in 2004, was consensual.  

Fairfax would assume the governorship should Northam resign. Herring would be the next in line following Fairfax. 

Loudoun County NAACP President Michelle Thomas said her organization is not seeking the attorney general’s resignation but “rather atonement, a measurable path to justice, equality, healing and racial reconciliation.”   

Thomas said she believes Herring is "perfectly positioned for leading the pathway out of the darkness of racism into the light of unity."

Thomas said she is still numb to all the news out of Richmond over the past week. 

A couple of days later to find out that your beloved attorney general has participated in racist activity—you’re still numb,” Thomas said. “The governor hasn’t stepped down. He’s unrepentant. There’s  almost no words for the callousness and lack of respect of the people he hurt—the African-American community — and so when this comes along with Mark, you ask, ‘How much do we not want to know about our elected officials?’” 

On Tuesday, Herring stepped down from his position as co-chairman of Democratic Attorneys General Association. DAGA Executive Director Sean Rankin said the association accepted his offer. 

____

Below is Herring’s full statement:

"The very bright light that is shining on Virginia right now is sparking a painful but, I think we all hope, important conversation. The stakes are high, and our spirits are low.

"I am sure we all have done things at one time or another in our lives that show poor judgment, and worse yet, have caused some level of pain to others. I have a glaring example from my past that I have thought about with deep regret in the many years since, and certainly each time I took a step forward in public service, realizing that my goals and this memory could someday collide and cause pain for people I care about, those who stood with me in the many years since, or those who I hoped to serve while in office.

"In 1980, when I was a 19-year-old undergraduate in college, some friends suggested we attend a party dressed like rappers we listened to at the time, like Kurtis Blow, and perform a song. It sounds ridiculous even now writing it. But because of our ignorance and glib attitudes – and because we did not have an appreciation for the experiences and perspectives of others – we dressed up and put on wigs and brown makeup.

"This was a onetime occurrence and I accept full responsibility for my conduct.

"That conduct clearly shows that, as a young man, I had a callous and inexcusable lack of awareness and insensitivity to the pain my behavior could inflict on others. It was really a minimization of both people of color, and a minimization of a horrific history I knew well even then.

"Although the shame of that moment has haunted me for decades, and though my disclosure of it now pains me immensely, what I am feeling in no way compares to the betrayal, the shock, and the deep pain that Virginians of color may be feeling. Where they have deserved to feel heard, respected, understood, and honestly represented, I fear my actions have contributed to them being forced to revisit and feel a historical pain that has never been allowed to become history.

"This conduct is in no way reflective of the man I have become in the nearly 40 years since.

"As a senator and as attorney general, I have felt an obligation to not just acknowledge but work affirmatively to address the racial inequities and systemic racism that we know exist in our criminal justice system, in our election processes, and in other institutions of power. I have long supported efforts to empower communities of color by fighting for access to healthcare, making it easier and simpler to vote, and twice defended the historic re-enfranchisement of former felons before the Supreme Court of Virginia. I have launched efforts to make our criminal justice system more just, fair, and equal by addressing implicit bias in law enforcement, establishing Virginia’s first-ever program to improve re-entry programs in local jails, and pushing efforts to reform the use of cash bail. And I have tried to combat the rise in hate crimes and white supremacist violence that is plaguing our Commonwealth and our country.

"That I have contributed to the pain Virginians have felt this week is the greatest shame I have ever felt. Forgiveness in instances like these is a complicated process, one that necessarily cannot and should not be decided by anyone but those directly affected by the transgressor, should forgiveness be possible or appropriate at all. In the days ahead, honest conversations and discussions will make it clear whether I can or should continue to serve as attorney general, but no matter where we go from here, I will say that from the bottom of my heart, I am deeply, deeply sorry for the pain that I cause with this revelation."

(44) comments

hardworkingamerican

Excuse me republican reacted immediately and removed Steve King from his committee assignments. How is it that an ISIS loving American hating radical ISLAM supporter Omar is still on the Foreign Affairs Committee? Talk about double standards. Liberals have no standards and your ideology ag is very dangerous. Omar's apology is just like the ISIS 5 that Obama let loose for a traitor. And now we Trump is having to deal with these murders again. Liberal ideology is the most severe threat that hard working tax paying American citizens face. Stay the course and do not give up in to the liberal, socialist lies and insanity. Omar wants all American's to "pay" and of course let's not forget her comment about "compassion" for the very ISIS people Obama created and funded with American tax dollars. Take Virginia back. Your life depends on it, in and out of the womb.

amerigirl


Big deal, where were the calls for King to resign. You only need to resign if you’re a democrat? Slap on the wrist, he is still getting a paycheck. Omar should have kept her mouth shut, but you have to agree, she is new at this. King has been spewing his racial vomit for years. He has apologized many times and been forgiven, why not her? You have taken your view to extreme, extreme depths. Liberals did not approve of what she said, they denounced her, but you keep on pushing your agenda that this is equal to ISIS killing people. Maybe you could get it to compare to the end of the world while you’re at it, speaking of insanity. So she refereed to $100 bills as Benjamin’s, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the Republican House minority leader, blasted her tweet despite having sent his own tweet accusing prominent Jewish Democrats of trying to “buy” the 2018 election., and not a word from Republicans, double standard, holier than thou attitude. Your life depends on it? You can’t be serious, now you are using babies that have no chance of survival as your talking point. That’s really low, but a popular republican talking point.

amerigirl

Everyone who is calling for them to step down, where was your outrage and you demand for Steve King to step down for his racism? Slap on the wrist if he is conservative, max sentence if democratic.

ace10

Steve King represents a Congressional district in Iowa. Seems like that's an issue for Iowans to work out.
So, back to the matter at hand... Herring called for Northam to step down.
Please chew on that for a while.

amerigirl

He works for he US House, not the Iowan state house, so that makes it a problem for the country not the state.

vaminuteman

The republican politician admitted it in Florida and resigned. These idiots in VA hold on thinking it will go away. No dignity

amerigirl

So he did it, no dignity.

romano

wrong question amerigirl....right question is "why aren't all those who called for King to resign calling for Herring to?"....another tidbit in this most delicious week of Democrat party hypocrisy...

amerigirl

Incorrect. King is a blatant racist. Herring was mimicking someone he liked. He has not made legislation that adversely effected blacks, made disparaging remark or promoted white nationalists and neo-Nazis on Twitter. Kingsues the Iowa Secretary of State for posting voting information on an official website in Spanish, Laotian, Bosnian and Vietnamese, it's not just blacks he is racist toward. You can tell from his comment " For everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert. Those people would be legalized with the same act." or "“The idea of multiculturalism, that every culture is equal — that’s not objectively true … We’ve been fed that information for the past 25 years, and we’re not going to become a greater nation if we continue to do that.” and “Mixing cultures will not lead to a higher quality of life but a lower one.” and Muslims “The rationale is that if infidels are eating this pork, [the Muslims] are not eating it,” King said. “So as long as they’re preparing this pork for infidels, it helps send them to hell and it must make Allah happy.”

ace10

Recently, a pot said the following about the kettle's blackface photo...
"Indefensible"
"Profoundly offensive"
"Shocking and deeply disappointing."

locomomma

Has anyone seen the movie White Chicks?

workhardgetahead

You can only be racist if you're white. Dont you get it!!

amerigirl

Really? what is wrong with you? Louis Farrakhan is definitely a racist.

Loudoun4Trump

And the Democrats fret over the statue on the courthouse grounds that has been standing there for 100 years or so....the irony is unbelievable....and to see Herring ask for Northam's resignation for doing the same thing he did is wild....they all need to go so VA can move forward -- they do not represent the good Virginians I know and associate with on a daily basis...lived in VA my whole life, never saw this behavior by anyone (I wasn't hanging in liberal circles though either)…..very sad day for VA and there has to be something to remove these racist clowns

scottva

Ralph "Not Me" Northam
Justin "Fondle" Fairfax
Mark "Red" Herring
Kirk "Coinflip" Cox

workhardgetahead

It's Pickeled Herring

amerigirl

even lamer

amerigirl

Very lame

workhardgetahead

Yea, that's lame just like the three politicians you voted for are lame ducks. Now that's lame!

WesternSky

It pains me to admit, but I dressed up as an American Indian when I was a child for Halloween.

amerigirl

Alot of people did. My brother went as his friends twin, they dressed the same and his father used charcoal to darken my brothers face to make him look like his son. No one took it as an insult because they were not trying to demean black people.
Blackface was meant to demean the black race, if someone was using it for that purpose then it is a whole different story.

Loudoun4Trump

please put up my first post...it was right on point....NY Post just ran their front page "VA is for Losers".....northam and herring should step down immediately....I will wait to hear more on Fairfax, don't want to jump the gun like the liberals did on Kavanaugh....

amerigirl

Key point it was the 'NY Post'.

Lawman

Mark, no pun intended, my words the Republicans leaders in Richmond are next on the pictures deal. So hide the yearbooks folks. Still trying to figure out why so many white men in Virginia want to dress up as Black men?

workhardgetahead

Probably for the same reason blacks like to dress up as whites

vaminuteman

They are both clowns and need to go. They came into office and started right away trying to change VA. Northam is a gun grabber and Herring right away started defying VA laws. Most responsible people never did this at that age especially in the 80s. This is in their character and doesn’t go away. Democrats are trying real hard to ruin VA. All the carpetbaggers coming in here especially in Northern VA with their liberal ideas we do not need. Babies are not safe here.

feathers

I'm just ticked that Northam's wife was at the press conference...we were mere seconds away from having a sitting VA governor moonwalk across the stage (channeling his inner Michael Jackson). That would have been some spectacle!

feathers

Could you imagine what would happen to our State if this trio were Republicans? Virginia would be on fire...all of it. Let that sink in.

amerigirl

Yes I can,the democrats that are calling for these people to step down would be doing the same thing they are now. Poor oppressed republicans. Has anyone called for state Sen. Tommy Norment, the Republican majority leader caught up in the blackface scandal to step down? Hypocrites.

Well Water Person

If these guys were Republicans, their heads would already be on the end of pikes.
Must be “do as I say, not do as I do”

WesternSky

This is getting a little absurd. It’s OK is Jimmy Kimmel and other late-night hosts and movie stars (Silver Streak for example) but someone’s career is over doing the same thing? Please.

I’m not a fan of any of their politics … but this was 35 years ago and a costume.

mopar19

Well the republicans are definitely doomed come next election. Seeing that the democrats have the women, hispanic, millennials, and socialist vote. Now they will surely get the racist voters. Who would have known all these democrats are closet racists and sexual predators. Just wish they would dig something on trump ASAP. They have been calling him a racist since he got into office. Thirty years in the public eye and almost three years in office, have we checked his yearbooks yet? We need to win back those votes. I don't think the Russian vote alone will help us carry Virginia.

amerigirl

Trumps racism goes much deeper. Calling Mexican immigrants criminals and rapists to proposing a ban on all Muslims entering the US to suggesting that a judge should recuse himself from a case solely because of the judge’s Mexican heritage, stereotyping a black reporter, making fun of a handicapped person. He was sued in 1970 for racial discrimination by violating the Fair Housing Act. In the 80's when he visited his casino the black people were cleared from the floor, (more appealing to him) or how about this quote "Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control." which he first denied and later admitted to. In season two of The Apprentice, Trump fired Kevin Allen, a black contestant, for being overeducated. In 2010 he went nuts over the Ground Zero Mosque" and said of Muslims, "Well, somebody’s blowing us up. Somebody’s blowing up buildings, and somebody’s doing lots of bad stuff.". Trump said Obama wasn’t born in the US and was a bad student, both lies. Mexican immigrants "rapists" who are "bringing crime" and "bringing drugs" to the US. He retweets messages from white supremacists and neo-Nazis How about the shith*le countries?

You all were probably losing it when the Clinton/ Lewinsky happened, family values truthfulness etc., but you don't seem to care that he was messing around on his wife right after his son was born. So much hypocrisy.

Loudoun 4 Trump

I think we should let Northam and Herring have a dance off and the winner gets to keep his job.

amerigirl

Herring was rapping.

LoudounClear

Bad news for the Dems, to be sure. Of course, in their case we're talking about something Herring did while 19. Doesn't rise to the level of separating children from their parents, or lying about hush money to prostitutes or any of what I guess we'd have to call "presidential" crimes.

feathers

Will Nicolle Wallace please explain this, it can't be.

amerigirl

Were they actually trying to disparage blacks or just in costume as a person who was black? Which do you call racism?

romano

I'll bet the Dems are sure proud of their VA team!!

workhardgetahead

Is it ever going to stop for the baby killing, sexual assaulting, racist dems? Come on guys, this is the 21st century!! Get with the times !!

Loudoun4Trump

Holy Cow, another racist! I guess the Democrat party is getting back to its roots....all three leadership roles for the VA government are held by people who have no business governing a popsickle stand let alone a state government....how do we recall this embarrassment....what a reflection on the voters who voted for these people....

David Dickinson

Finally, we know who is behind all the KKK literature in Leesburg!

Loudoun4Trump

BAHAHAHWHWHHAHA

amerigirl

Cute

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Thank you for reading!

Please purchase a subscription to read our premium content. If you have a subscription, please log in or sign up for an account on our website to continue.