He apologised, before backtracking the next day and declaring he was not in the photo. He initially said he was in the photo, then denied that but said he did wear blackface when he impersonated Michael Jackson around the same time. From there Northam claimed that because he has "strength", "courage" and "a moral compass", he was "not going anywhere".
But Fairfax has steadfastly maintained that the two incidents that surfaced this week - one from 2004, and the other from 2000 - were consensual sexual encounters, and he has asked for the FBI to conduct an investigation in order to ensure "due process".
The next in line to the governor's mansion, Attorney-General Mark Herring, has been embroiled in scandal too. The governor, also a Democrat, earlier this month admitted to using blackface, after the discovery of a racist image on his page in a decades-old yearbook. If they were all to resign over these controversies, Virginia could be led by the Republican Speaker of the House of Delegates, Kirk Cox.
"It won't be a surprise if more people are caught up in this".
Virginia fought against interracial marriages until the U.S. Supreme Court's 1967 Loving v. Virginia decision, which struck down state laws banning interracial marriage.
But it was also an epicentre of the domestic slave trade, the capital of the Confederacy and in the 1950s there was resistance to desegregation.
Virginia is being skewered by a national spotlight that illuminates questions involving four of its most powerful politicians.
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That troubled legacy still arouses fierce passions: in 2017, a white supremacist rally in the Virginia city of Charlottesville - held to protest the removal of a Confederate statue - turned violent, leaving one counter-protester dead.
"We don't even know where to take the conversation from here", community organizer Chelsea Wise said at a meeting of Democrats in Richmond on Thursday.
But that's why residents like Jabril Carter, 25, employee at the Market Street Market, said they weren't shocked at all by the news: after all, he said, the governor "wasn't the only person doing it back then".
"There are two dimensions to this: the ethical and the political".
She left a campus party when he arrived, and he followed her out.
Republicans have been calling for resignations. Smith said Watson reported it to a top-level university administrator but received no help and was discouraged from taking the claim any further. And the reason I used a very little bit is because, I don't know if anybody's ever tried that, but you can not get shoe polish off, ' he said. "There is no better person than a doctor", he told CBS's Face the Nation. Another Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen.
As they've criss-crossed the country, they've been asked about it again and again.
Still, some said that unlike the aftermath of the rally that rocked the state two years ago, this time the past shouldn't be allowed to shape the present - or at least, that it shouldn't completely upend the current political landscape.