JUPITER, Fla. (AP) — Most 2020 Democratic presidential candidates quickly joined the call for Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam to resign following the discovery of a racist photo in his medical school yearbook more than 30 years ago.

Northam apologized twice Friday after the photo surfaced, but the freshman governor’s expressions of regret have not quieted calls for him to step down.

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-NJ, speaks during a news conference outside of his home, Friday, Feb. 1, 2019, in Newark, N.J. Booker earlier in the day declared his bid for the presidency with a sweeping call to unite a deeply polarized nation around a “common purpose.” (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

A Virginia Democrat who has spoken with Northam on Saturday told The Associated Press that the governor has no immediate plans to resign. The official, who was not authorized to speak on the record about a private conversation, said Northam plans to address the issue publicly in the afternoon.

Northam has lost the support of prominent Democrats in Virginia and beyond, including from the Democratic Party’s historically diverse and growing field of 2020 candidates, which includes two African-American senators, Cory Booker of New Jersey and Kamala Harris of California.

“These images arouse centuries of anger, anguish, and racist violence and they’ve eroded all confidence in Gov. Northam’s ability to lead,” Booker said Friday on Twitter. “We should expect more from our elected officials. He should resign.”

Booker had entered the presidential race that morning, which also was the start of Black History Month.

Harris said the “stain of racism should have no place in the halls of government. The Governor of Virginia should step aside so the public can heal and move forward together.”

Added former U.S. housing secretary Julian Castro: “This behavior was racist and unconscionable. Governor Northam should resign.”

Northam’s page in the 1984 yearbook from Eastern Virginia Medical School shows a picture of a person in Blackface and another wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood.

After the photo went public Friday, Northam issued a statement calling the costume he wore “clearly racist and offensive” but didn’t say which one he had worn. But the Democrat who spoke to Northam said that after further reflection the governor said he has no memory of wearing either of the racist costumes and doesn’t believe he is in the picture.

Northam also issued a video statement on Friday saying he was “deeply sorry” but remained committed to serving the “remainder of my term.”

“I accept responsibility for my past actions and I am ready to do the hard work of regaining your trust,” Northam said.

Other Democratic presidential candidates calling on Northam to leave office include Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and former Maryland Rep. John Delaney.

“There aren’t two sets of rules for our friends and our foes: Right is right and wrong is wrong,” Gillibrand said on Twitter late Friday. “Americans deserve to be respected by their leaders, and racism cannot be excused in our government or anywhere else. Having seen the photo, I believe Governor Northam should resign.”

Delaney said the appearance of the photo would “impair his ability to have the kind of moral authority that is needed to lead people through the painful and important discussion about race relations in our country.”

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, both potential 2020 presidential contenders, weighed in on Twitter on Saturday, saying it was time for Northam to hand over to Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax.

Biden said Fairfax, a Democrat and only the second African-American to win statewide office in Virginia, “is the leader Virginia needs now.”


Associated Press writer Alan Suderman in Richmond, Virginia, contributed to this report.