VA Gov. Ralph Northam refuses to resign amid backlash over 1984 racist yearbook photo: Source

Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam does not intend to resign after the discovery of a a racist yearbook photo, defying calls from his own party to step down, a source close to Northam told ABC News.

The photo, which was revealed on Friday, shows two men, one in a Ku Klux Klan robe and another in blackface, was on Northam’s medical school yearbook page in 1984. Northam graduated from Eastern Virginia Medical School.

The source told ABC News that the governor will not resign, “period.”

“He will serve out his term.”

The source adds that Northam is telling associates that it is not him in the photo, and has been calling friends from medical school in an attempt to identify the men.

The Democratic Party of Virginia said in a statement Saturday that Northam should step down immediately and be replaced by Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax.

“We made the decision to let Governor Northam do the correct thing and resign this morning – we have gotten word he will not do so this morning. We stand with Democrats across Virginia and the country calling him to immediately resign. He no longer has our confidence or our support. Governor Northam must end this chapter immediately, step down, and let Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax heal Virginia’s wounds and move us forward. We can think of no better person than Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax to do so,” the statement said.

The governor’s office did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment Saturday.

But late Friday evening, Northam, 59, apologized and said that he was in the photo, which depicted some of the most racist tropes in U.S. history.

Eastern Virginia Medical School via AP
This image shows Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s page in his 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook. The page shows a picture of a person in blackface and another wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood next to different pictures of the governor.

“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,” Northam said in a statement. “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.”

But in the statement, Northam did not say he would step down.

“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,” Northam added.

PHOTO: Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam prepares to address a news conference at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Jan. 31, 2019.Steve Helber/AP, FILE
Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam prepares to address a news conference at the Capitol in Richmond, Va., Jan. 31, 2019.

Virginia has become an key battleground state for U.S. elections. It is a consistent swing state for presidential elections. Northam was elected in 2017, besting former Republican Party Chairman Ed Gillespie.

High-profile Democrats, including former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden, campaigned for Northam in 2017.

On Saturday morning, Biden joined the chorus of prominent Democrats and potential 2020 presidential candidates in calling for Northam to resign.

“There is no place for racism in America. Governor Northam has lost all moral authority and should resign immediately, Justin Fairfax is the leader Virginia needs now,” Biden tweeted.

The Democratic Caucus in both the Virginia House of Representatives and Virginia Senate have called on Northam to resign. Senate Democrats released a statement saying, in part, “It is with heavy hearts that we have respectfully asked him to step down.”

ABC News’ John Verhovek contributed to this report.

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