RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — He promised to start an honest conversation about race and how to heal the lingering wounds of Virginia’s painful past. Then he disappeared.
For the past week, Gov. Ralph Northam has defied widespread calls for his resignation after a racist yearbook picture and a bungled response upended his career. The 59-year-old Democrat has hired a crisis communications firm, used underground tunnels at the Capitol to stay out of sight and unveiled no strategy for how he might govern effectively over the next three years.
His best hope of survival in the short term might be the eruption of two other controversies that have since hit the two men next in line to succeed him, both Democrats. The party might be loath to oust the three for fear of handing the governor’s office over to the Republican legislative leader who is next in line.
But Northam’s long-term plans are still a mystery. The uncertainty has led opponents to pile on, left his staff rudderless and prompted supporters to urge him to act quickly.