Monday, February 11, 2019

Nearly 60% of Virginia's African-Americans want Governor Northam to remain in office: poll

Nearly 60% of African-Americans in Virginia want Governor Ralph Northam to remain in office despite the recent scandal surrounding a racist photo on the Democrat's 1984 medical school yearbook page, according to a poll released Saturday.  

The Washington Post-Schar School poll, conducted Wednesday through Friday, found Virginia's broader population to be split evenly about Northam’s fate, with 47% wanting him to stay and the same % wanting him to resign.  

African-Americans, however, prefer that the Democrat remain in office, 58% to 37%. Whites are more evenly divided. 

The poll also found that 11% of Virginia residents have either worn blackface or known someone who has. Northam's denied that he's one of 2 men shown on his yearbook page, backtracking an earlier admission. The photo shows one person in blackface and the other dressed in a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe.  

"Initially, I could've forgiven him and I think he could've gotten past it. It was something that was 35 years ago," David Hughes, an African-American sheriff's deputy in Newport News, told the Post. "What really bothered me was the change in story." Hughes, 54, thinks the governor should resign.  

Louise Butler, 76, of Richmond, grew up during segregation and was bothered by the Klan costume, that she said brought back memories of violence and discrimination directed at African-Americans before the Civil Rights Movement. 

She told the paper she believed Northam was committed to racial equality despite whatever views he may have held in 1984. "He’s been a good governor and he’s been good, as far as I know, to black people," Butler said.
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In an interview Saturday, Northam said he wants to heal the wounds that some feel after the racist photo emerged.  

"There's still some very deep wounds in Virginia and especially in the area of equity. There's ongoing inequities to access to things like education, health care, mortgages, capital, entrepreneurship," he said. "And so this has been a real, I think, an awakening for Virginia. It's really raised the level of awareness for racial issues in Virginia. And so we’re ready to learn from our mistakes."  

Other results from the poll revealed about a 3rd of Virginians think Attorney General Mark Herring should resign after he admitted to wearing blackface at a party in college. Most residents are still undecided – 65% – on the future of Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax, who's accused of sexual assault by 2 women. Fairfax denies the accusations.  

Respondents weren't asked about the 2nd allegation against him, that was made public Friday after the poll began.

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