WASHINGTON (ABC7) — Four presidential candidates for 2020 as well as the president of the NAACP are calling for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to resign after he admitted to appearing in a photo of two men dressed in racist costumes.
The 1984 photo shows two men holding beers, one dressed as a Ku Klux Klan member, and the other in head-to-toe blackface. The photo appeared on Northam's medical school yearbook page.
Julian Castro and Sen. Kamala Harris, who have both announced they are running for president in 2020, quickly denounced their fellow Democrat on Twitter and called for his resignation.
"It doesn’t matter if he is a Republican or a Democrat," tweeted Castro, who serves as the mayor of San Antonio in Texas. "This behavior was racist and unconscionable. Governor Northam should resign."
Harris, who represents California in the Senate, echoed the sentiment.
"Leaders are called to a higher standard, and the stain of racism should have no place in the halls of government," Harris tweeted, shortly after Castro. "The Governor of Virginia should step aside so the public can heal and move forward together."
Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Cory Booker, also running as Democrats in 2020, tweeted their calls for him to resign several hours later.
"There aren’t two sets of rules for our friends and our foes: Right is right and wrong is wrong...Having seen the photo, I believe Governor Northam should resign," tweeted Gillibrand, and Booker followed her with: "These images arouse centuries of anger, anguish, and racist violence and they’ve eroded all confidence in Gov. Northam’s ability to lead. We should expect more from our elected officials. He should resign."
The NAACP, a civil rights organization that promotes justice for African Americans, called for Northam's resignation via a tweet from its president, Derrick Johnson.
"Black face in any manner is always racist and never okay," Johnson tweeted. "No matter the party affiliation, we can not stand for such behavior, which is why the @NAACP is calling for the resignation of Virginia Governor @RalphNortham."
This incident comes just days after Northam came under fire over his support for a late-term abortion bill, which Virginia Republicans vehemently opposed. Although reproductive health care provider Planned Parenthood had donated $2 million to Northam's gubernatorial campaign in support of his pro-choice record, on Friday the nonprofit joined the calls for him step down as governor.
Northam also received calls for his resignation from the Virginia GOP, the Republican Governors Association, and Republican congressman for Virginia's fifth district, Denver Riggleman. Guy Cecil, the chairman of the largest Democratic super PAC in the U.S., also agreed that he should resign, as did Democratic congressman Donald McEachin from Virginia's fourth district, the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, and the Virginia Senate Democrats.