Can Gov. Ralph Northam weather the political storm? Political analysts weigh in

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — It’s been one week since Gov. Ralph Northam’s blackface scandal broke, and despite immediate calls for his resignation, the Democratic governor remains in office. 

So, how can Gov. Northam survive? A senior official in Northam’s administration says the governor told his cabinet on Friday that he intends to stay. 8News also obtained a letter the governor wrote to all state employees apologizing for the distraction. 

“You have placed your trust in me to lead Virginia forward — and I plan to do that,” Gov. Northam wrote. 

Democratic Senator Chap Petersen on Friday offered a perspective that differed from many other Democrats who have called for the governor to step down.

“I think we need to stand back, slow down, and if people have done something wrong, they show contrition, they have grown in their lives, to me that is more important than rushing to a conclusion,” Petersen said. 

With Northam seemingly intent on remaining in office, Dr. Alex Keena, Professor of Political Science at VCU, believes the governor can weather the storm.

“I think his stock is rising perhaps,” Dr. Keena said. “Once the scandals broke with the Lt. Governor, the accusations and then with the attorney general as well, I think the Virginia Democrats are probably warming the idea of letting him stay on and finish out his term.”

Political analysts admit, though, that it is not going to be easy for Gov. Northam to lead.

“It becomes very difficult to negotiate, to work with other states, to do anything really if your governor is under a cloud in the way that our current Governor is,” 8News political analyst Richard Meagher said. 

Dr. Keena added, “I think he needs to talk to the public. If I were advising him, once this cools down, he needs to have a town hall or some sort of meeting where he can talk explicitly about the events that happened 30 years ago.”

Another sign Northam has no plans to resign — earlier this week, he hired a big Washington D.C. based crisis management firm to help shape his message going forward.

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