UPDATE, Saturday, Feb. 2, 3:00 P.M. CST: Gov. Northam reversed course at a press conference Saturday, now claiming that he is not in the racist photo. In the course of defending himself, Northam later admitted to using blackface during a separate incident.
UPDATE, 5:20 P.M. CST: Gov. Ralph Northam issued a statement Friday evening confirming that he is one of the people in a racist photo in his 1984 medical school yearbook.
"Earlier today, a website published a photograph of me from my 1984 medical school yearbook in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive.
I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now.
This behavior is not in keeping with who I am today and the values I have fought for throughout my career in the military, in medicine, and in public service. But I want to be clear, I understand how this decision shakes Virginians' faith in that commitment.
I recognize that it will take time and serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused. I am ready to do that important work. The first step is to offer my sincerest apology and to state my absolute commitment to living up to the expectations Virginians set for me when they elected me to be their Governor."
A local newspaper in Virginia obtained and published a yearbook photo which appears to show Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam and a friend dressed in racist costumes.
The photo was first obtained and reported by Big League Politics, and later corroborated by The Virginian-Pilot, which got a copy of the photo from the library of Eastern Virginia Medical School, where Northam earned his medical degree.
The yearbook was published in 1984, and Northam's page includes three normal photos of him and one photo showing two men—one wearing blackface, and the other dressed in a full Ku Klux Klan outfit.
Northam's full name is at the top of the page, and under the controversial photo is a caption listing Northam's alma mater (Virginia Military Institute), the area of study he's interested in (pediatrics) and the following quote: "There are more old drunks than old doctors in the world so I think I'll have another beer."
The photo, it should be noted, does not identify the men shown in the costumes, although it seems likely that one of them would be Northam since it is his yearbook page.
The Twitter account for the Virginia Republican caucus called for Northam to immediately explain the photo, but as of 4 p.m. CST the governor's office had not responded to a request by TheBlaze for comment.
The publication of the photo comes on the heels of a significant controversy regarding a failed Virginia late-term abortion bill, and, more specifically, comments Northam made justifying it.
When discussing third trimester abortions up to and possibly even right after birth, Northam said: "The infant would be delivered, the infant would be kept comfortable, the infant would be resuscitated if that's what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother."
Northam later stood by the comments in the face of intense backlash.