Ralph Northam
Ralph Shearer Northam (born September 13, 1959) is an American politician and physician serving as the 73rd Governor of Virginia since January 13, 2018

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Ralph Northam73rd Governor of VirginiaIncumbentAssumed office
January 13, 2018LieutenantJustin FairfaxPreceded byTerry McAuliffe40th Lieutenant Governor of VirginiaIn office
January 11, 2014 – January 13, 2018GovernorTerry McAuliffePreceded byBill BollingSucceeded byJustin FairfaxMember of the Virginia Senate
from the 6th districtIn office
January 9, 2008 – January 11, 2014Preceded byNick RerrasSucceeded byLynwood Lewis Personal detailsBornRalph Shearer Northam
(1959-09-13) September 13, 1959 (age 59)
Nassawadox, Virginia, U.S.Political partyDemocraticSpouse(s)Pam Northam (m. 1987)Children2ResidenceExecutive MansionEducationVirginia Military Institute (BS)
Eastern Virginia Medical School (MD)SignatureMilitary serviceAllegiance United StatesService/branch United States ArmyYears of service1984–1992Rank MajorUnitArmy Medical Corps

Ralph Shearer Northam (born September 13, 1959) is an American politician and physician serving as the 73rd Governor of Virginia since January 13, 2018.[1] A physician by occupation, he was an officer in the U.S. Army Medical Corps from 1984 to 1992. Northam served as the 40th Lieutenant Governor of Virginia from 2014 to 2018 prior to winning the governorship against Republican nominee Ed Gillespie in the 2017 election.[2]

Contents Early life, family history, and education

Northam was born in Nassawadox, Virginia, on September 13, 1959.[3][4] He and his older brother of two years, Thomas, were raised on a water-side farm, just outside Onancock, Virginia.[5] The family grew a variety of crops and tended livestock on their seventy-five acre property.[6] As a teenager, Northam worked on a ferry to Tangier Island and as a deckhand on fishing charters; he also worked on a neighbor's farm and as a "stock boy" at Meatland grocery store.[7][5][8] He and Thomas attended desegregated public schools.[5][9] Northam graduated from Onancock High School, where his class was predominately African American.[10]

Northam's mother, Nancy B. Shearer, originally hailed from Washington D.C. She was a part-time nurse at Northampton-Accomack Memorial Hospital, and her father was a surgeon.[11][12][7] Nancy Shearer died in 2009.[7] Northam's father, Wescott B. Northam, was a lawyer and veteran of World War II; he entered politics in the 1960s, serving three terms as Commonwealth's Attorney for Accomack County, Virginia. After losing election to a fourth term, Wescott Northam was appointed as a Circuit Court judge for Accomack and Northampton counties.[11][12][7][5] Wescott Northam's own father, Thomas Long Northam, had served as a judge in the same court.[7]

Thomas Long Northam died when Wescott Northam was only fourteen, and a few years later, the family farm in Modest Town, Virginia, where Wescott had been born, was sold.[5][9] The farm had first come into the family through Ralph Northam's great-great-grandfather, James, who along with his son, Levi Jacob, had owned slaves - one of whom, Raymond Northam, was freed to enlist in the 9th Regiment of Colored Troops. Ralph Northam was unaware of his family's slave-owning history until his father conducted research into their ancestry during the time of Northam's gubernatorial campaign.[9]

In high school, Northam was voted "Most Likely to Succeed"[10] and graduated as salutatorian.[13] He was a member of his school's basketball and baseball teams.[7][10] Northam graduated from the Virginia Military Institute in 1981, where he served as president of VMI's honor court and received a bachelor's degree in biology.[14][15][16] He went on to Eastern Virginia Medical School, earning his M.D. degree in 1984.[14]

Army and medical career

From 1984 to 1992 he served as a United States Army medical officer. During his Army service, he completed a pediatric residency at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, followed by a child neurology fellowship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and Johns Hopkins Hospital.[17] During Operation Desert Storm, he treated evacuated casualties at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

Northam left the U.S. Army in 1992 at the rank of major, having completed eight years of service.[18] Since 1992,[19] Northam has been a pediatric neurologist at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia.[20]

Political career

Prior to entering politics, Northam voted for Republican George W. Bush in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections, a fact that opponents raised in later Democratic primaries.[21][22] Northam says that he was apolitical at the time and regretted those votes,[22] saying: "Politically, there was no question, I was underinformed."[13]

Virginia State Senate Northam in 2008

Northam first ran for office in 2007 in the Virginia 6th Senate district, which includes the Eastern Shore of Virginia; Mathews County, on the Middle Peninsula; and parts of the cities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach.[8] He was unopposed for the Democratic nomination. On November 6, 2007, he defeated Nick Rerras, a two-term Republican incumbent, 17,307 votes to 14,499.[23]

He was re-elected in November 2011, defeating Ben Loyola Jr., a defense contractor, 16,606 votes to 12,622.[24]

One of Northam's first major activities as a state legislator was to lead an effort to pass a ban on smoking in restaurants in Virginia. The bill failed the first time, but it passed the next year and Governor Tim Kaine signed it into law.[25][26]

In 2009, Northam—a self-described "conservative on fiscal issues and liberal on social issues"[27]—was the subject of an attempt by state Senate Republicans to get him to switch parties.[28] This action would have given Republicans control of the State Senate, but after news of the imminent switch broke on Twitter, Democrats held a closed-door meeting, and Northam reiterated that he was not leaving the party.[29] He later said, "I guess it's nice to be wanted, but I'm a Democrat, and that's where I'm staying."[30]

Lieutenant Governor of Virginia Main article: 2013 Virginia lieutenant gubernatorial election Northam ran for lieutenant governor as Terry McAuliffe's running mate.

Northam ran for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in the 2013 election.[31] Northam competed against U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra for the Democratic nomination.[32] On June 11, 2013, Northam won the Democratic primary over Chopra with 54% of the vote to Chopra's 46%.[33][34]

On November 5, 2013, Northam was elected as Virginia's 40th Lieutenant Governor over Republican E. W. Jackson by a 10% margin, receiving 55% of the vote to Jackson's 45%.[35] Northam was the first Democrat since Tim Kaine in 2001 to be elected Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.

2017 gubernatorial election Main article: 2017 Virginia gubernatorial election

In February 2015, just over a year into his term as lieutenant governor, Northam confirmed his interest in running for Governor of Virginia in 2017.[36][37] He made these intentions official on November 17, 2015, via an email to supporters.[38]

Northam faced former congressman Tom Perriello in the Democratic primary. The primary campaign was often described as a proxy battle between the Bernie Sanders / Elizabeth Warren wing of the Democratic Party, represented by Perriello, and the Hillary Clinton wing, represented by Northam.[39] On June 13, 2017, Northam won the Democratic nomination with 56% of the vote to Perriello's 44%.[40] He faced Republican nominee Ed Gillespie in the general election.

Northam's campaign funds were heavily depleted by the end of the primary race. He was left with around $1.75 million, which amounted to roughly half of Gillespie's remaining funds.[41] Northam quickly gained the advantage however - by the end of the summer, his available funds had grown twice as large as Gillespie's, with two months left in the campaign. Northam led Gillespie among small donors, as well: "5,900 donations under $100 to Gillespie's 2,100."[42]

In October 2017, the Northam campaign released a small number of flyers omitting Northam's running-mate for Lieutenant Governor, Justin Fairfax. These were released at the request of Laborers' International Union of North America, which had endorsed Northam (as well as Northam's running mate for Attorney General, Mark Herring, who was also included on the flyer), but not Fairfax. LIUNA explained that Fairfax opposes the construction of natural gas pipelines that are favored by the organization. As Fairfax is black, while Northam and Herring are both white, some activists criticized the decision to accommodate LIUNA's request. All houses that received the LIUNA flyers also received standard campaign flyers including Fairfax.[43][44]

During the campaign, Gillespie and President Donald Trump accused Northam of being responsible for the increased activities of the MS-13 gangs and of being "in favor of sanctuary cities that let dangerous illegal immigrants back on the streets."[45][46] Gillespie and Trump said that Northam had been the deciding vote to stop a Republican bill in the state Senate which would have banned sanctuary cities and that this contributed to the surge in MS-13 violence; a notion that found to be "misleading".[45] The Washington Post and CNN noted that there are no actual sanctuary cities in Virginia.[46][47] Gillespie himself acknowledged that Virginia did not have sanctuary cities.[46] The Washington Post furthermore noted that there is no evidence that sanctuary cities increase crime or gang activity,[48] and that Virginia communities with higher immigrant populations have lower crime rates.[49]

Later that month, the Latino Victory Fund, which supports Northam, released an ad in which a pickup truck, adorned with a Gillespie bumper sticker, a "Don't tread on me" license plate, and a Confederate flag, chases down minority children and corners them in an alley—one of the children in the ad then wakes up, revealing the scene to have been a nightmare.[50][51] Although Northam and his campaign were not involved with the ad, Northam initially defended it, saying Gillespie's own ads "have promoted fearmongering, hatred, bigotry, racial divisiveness," and adding, "I mean, it's upset a lot of communities, and they have the right to express their views as well."[52] The ad was pulled the following day in the hours after the terrorist attack in New York City, in which a man killed several people by running them over with a truck.[52][53] Northam then distanced himself from the ad, re-emphasizing that it was not released by his campaign and saying that it is not one that he would have chosen to run.[54] A spokesman for the campaign said that the Latino Victory Fund's decision to pull the ad was "appropriate and the right thing to do."[52] FOX 5 DC reported that the Northam campaign had accepted $62,000 as an in-kind media contribution from the Latino Victory Fund.[55]

In the final week of the campaign, Northam stated that he would as governor sign a bill to ban sanctuary cities in Virginia similar to a bill he had voted against in the state Senate earlier in 2017.[56] In response, the progressive group Democracy for America stated that it stopped direct aid of Northam's campaign.[57] Howard Dean, who founded Democracy for America, but left the organization in 2016, wrote on Twitter that the organization had discredited itself and called its decision to stop aiding Northam's campaign "incredibly stupid".[58] Democracy for America had already stopped collecting data for Northam and had ceased mentioning him in get-out-the-vote calls due to his campaign's decision to remove Justin Fairfax from certain campaign fliers.[59][60]

Northam meeting with volunteers in Blacksburg, VA (2017).

Northam held campaign rallies with former President Barack Obama[61] and former Vice President Joe Biden during the general election campaign.[62]

According to the Washington Post, Northam owns stock in several companies "doing extensive work in Virginia". Northam has stated that if elected governor, he would place his financial investments into a blind trust, so as to avoid any potential conflicts of interest.[63]

According to the Virginia Public Access Project, as of November 3, 2017, Northam has raised $33.8 million to Gillespie's $24.5 million.[64]

Northam was elected 73rd Governor of Virginia on November 7, 2017, defeating Ed Gillespie in the general election with a larger-than-expected nine-point margin of victory.[65]

Governor of Virginia

Northam was sworn in as Governor of Virginia at noon on January 13, 2018 at the State Capitol.[66] He became the second Eastern Shore native to serve as Governor of Virginia, after Henry A. Wise (who was elected in 1855)[7][66][67] and the second alumnus of Virginia Military Institute to serve as governor, after Westmoreland Davis (who was elected in 1917).[66] A majority of Northam's cabinet secretaries are female, a first in Virginia history.[68] Residents from every county in Virginia attended Northam's inauguration (which reportedly marked another first for the state)[69][70] and twenty-six groups participated in the inaugural parade, which has been called the largest and most diverse in state history.[70][71]

On February 1, 2019, images of Northam's medical school yearbook surfaced showing an image of an unidentified person in blackface and an unidentified person in a Ku Klux Klan hood on Northam's page in the yearbook.[72][73][74] A spokesman for Eastern Virginia Medical School confirmed that the image appeared in its 1984 yearbook.[75] Shortly after the news broke, Northam confirmed he appeared in the photo[75] and issued a statement saying,

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“Earlier today, a website published a photograph of me from my 1984 medical school yearbook in a costume that is clearly racist and offensive. I am deeply sorry for the decision I made to appear as I did in this photo and for the hurt that decision caused then and now. This behavior is not in keeping with who I am today and the values I have fought for throughout my career in the military, in medicine, and in public service. But I want to be clear, I understand how this decision shakes Virginians’ faith in that commitment. I recognize that it will take time and serious effort to heal the damage this conduct has caused. I am ready to do that important work. The first step is to offer my sincerest apology and to state my absolute commitment to living up to the expectations Virginians set for me when they elected me to be their Governor.”[76][77][78]

The Virginia Senate Democratic leader, Richard Saslaw, defended Northam,[79] while others, including the Republican Party of Virginia[80] and the chairman of the Prince Edward County Democratic Committee, called on him to resign.[81] Major Democratic officials, including 2020 presidential candidates Julian Castro and Kamala Harris, also called for Northam to step down.[82]

Political positions

The Washington Post described Northam as a moderate state senator who moved to the left on some issues during the 2017 gubernatorial Democratic primary, such as support for a $15 minimum wage and opposition to a state constitutional amendment enshrining right-to-work legislation.[83]


Northam supports abortion rights.[84] In the Virginia General Assembly, he opposed a bill to mandate vaginal ultrasounds for women seeking abortions, and voted against the bill when it was revised to mandate only abdominal ultrasounds.[85] He was endorsed in the 2017 Democratic gubernatorial primary by the abortion rights group NARAL and its Virginia affiliate.[86] Northam has argued for reducing abortion rates through education and expanding access to contraceptives.[84] Planned Parenthood pledged to spend $3 million supporting Northam in his 2017 general election campaign for governor.[87] Northam opposes banning abortions after 20 weeks through a state version of the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.[88]

In January 2019, Northam faced criticism over his comments regarding the Repeal Act, a bill proposed in the Virginia House of Delegates, that would allow third trimester abortions to be performed if a single physician determines that there is any physical or mental health risk to the mother (third-trimester abortions are currently only allowed in Virginia if three physicians determine that continued pregnancy would be "substantially and irremediably" harmful to a woman's health).[89][90] During an interview on WTOP, Northam said, "When we talk about third-trimester abortions, these are done with the consent of obviously the mother, with the consent of the physicians, more than one physician, by the way...And it's done in cases where there may be severe deformities, there may be a fetus that's non-viable. So in this particular example, if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that's what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother. So I think this was really blown out of proportion."[91][92][93] During the same interview, Northam stated that he supports Virginia's current requirement for third-trimester abortions to be certified by multiple physicians.[94]

Northam's remarks circulated around social media, resulting in intense criticism from various Republicans who accused him of supporting infanticide.[91][90] His spokesman released a statement saying "No woman seeks a third trimester abortion except in the case of tragic or difficult circumstances, such as a nonviable pregnancy or in the event of severe fetal abnormalities, and the governor’s comments were limited to the actions physicians would take in the event that a woman in those circumstances went into labor."[95]

Northam told the Washington Post the next day that his remarks had been taken out of context, saying, "I don’t have any ...The personal insults toward me, I really find disgusting. We can agree to disagree, but let’s be civil about it."[96]

Confederate monuments

On the controversies over public monuments to the Confederacy, in June 2017 Northam stated that the statues in the state Capitol that the General Assembly has jurisdiction over "should be taken down and moved into museums", and that the decision on other statues "belongs to local communities."[26] He has said that there should be more public memorials to historical Virginia civil rights leaders such as Barbara Rose Johns, Oliver Hill, and Samuel Wilbert Tucker.[26] In August 2017, Northam took a firmer stance, saying, "I believe these statues should be taken down and moved into museums. As governor, I am going to be a vocal advocate for that approach and work with localities on this issue."[97] According to the Washington Post, Northam later reverted to his original stance that decisions on the monuments should be made locally.[98][99]

Criminal justice

During Virginia's 2017 gubernatorial campaign, both Northam and his opponent, Ed Gillespie, called for the state's felony threshold on theft to be raised, which at $200, was then-tied for lowest-in-the-nation with New Jersey.[100][101] Set in 1980, the threshold's value, when adjusted for inflation, would have been equal to around $600 in 2017.[102] Outgoing governor, Terry McAuliffe, had attempted, during his final year in office, to raise the threshold to $500, but was unable to advance such a proposal through the legislature.[103][104] Both McAuliffe and Northam supported raising the threshold even further to $1,000,[101] which would have been more closely aligned with those found in a majority of other states,[102] while Gillespie approved of a $500 threshold.[105] Following Northam's election to the governship, the Washington Post identified this issue as an opportunity for bipartisan legislation.[106]

In early February 2018, about a month after his inauguration as governor, Northam struck a deal with the Republican-controlled legislature to raise the felony threshold to $500; in exchange, Northam gave support to Republican-sponsored legislation that would require criminal defendants seeking parole to first pay full restitution to victims.[102][107] McAuliffe had vetoed a comparable restitution bill the previous year. The Washington Post's editorial board called Northam's compromise "a small step toward fairer justice in Virginia", but voiced concern that the restitution bill would place an onerous burden on poor defendants; they also noted that the $500 threshold is still one of the country's lowest and still under the amount that it would be if it had kept pace with inflation since 1980.[107]

In June 2018, a class action lawsuit was publicly disclosed, which had been filed the previous October - it claimed that teenage detainees at the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center had been physically abused by staff members there. Several of the plaintiffs were being held at the facility on immigration charges. The abuse described in the lawsuit was alleged to have occurred from 2015 through 2018. The Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center denied all of the claims in the lawsuit, while Northam called the allegations "disturbing" and directed state agencies to conduct an investigation.[108][109] Around two months later, the investigation concluded with no findings of ongoing abuse. Allegations of past abuse were not included within the scope of the investigation and the lawsuit is still pending.[110]

Death penalty

Ralph Northam is opposed to the death penalty.[111]


Northam has proposed an increase in Virginia's minimum wage from its current level, $7.25 an hour, to $15 an hour.[26] During his 2017 campaign for governor, Northam was endorsed by the Laborers' International Union of North America; the union praised Northam for his opposition to a "right-to-work" amendment to the Virginia state constitution.[112] Northam criticized the repeal of the car tax under former Governor Jim Gilmore because of its impact on both K-12 and higher education, saying Virginia still has not recovered.[113]

Northam "has called for phasing out the grocery tax on low-income people and ending business taxes in struggling rural areas."[114] He has called for a bipartisan reform commission to make recommendations on state tax policy.[114][63]


Northam has proposed making it free for students to pursue a community college education or apprenticeship in a high-demand field (such as cybersecurity and early-childhood education) under the condition that they commit to a year of paid public service.[63]

Northam opposes public funding for private schools.[63]

Environment and energy

Northam accepts the scientific consensus on climate change and as a candidate for governor vowed to lead efforts to fight climate change. He has pledged, if elected, to bring Virginia into the United States Climate Alliance, a multi-state agreement to uphold greenhouse gas emissions standards.[115] Northam has emphasized the negative effects of climate change-induced sea level rise on Virginia's Tidewater region.[26][115]

During his 2017 campaign for governor, Northam pledged if elected to continue implementing the total maximum daily load limits for nitrogen and phosphorus discharges into Chesapeake Bay, a policy that had reduced harmful algal blooms. Northam said he would continue this policy even if the federal government under Donald Trump cut or eliminated funding for the program. During his campaign, Northam was endorsed by the Virginia League of Conservation Voters and the Virginia Sierra Club.[116]

Northam has offered conditional support for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, provided that the pipeline's construction is deemed to be environmentally safe.[117][118] He has avoided taking a firm stance on other pipelines such as the Mountain Valley Pipeline.[119] He opposes both offshore drilling and fracking.[117]

Family leave

When Northam was inaugurated as governor, the family leave policy for executive branch employees in the state of Virginia exclusively applied to employees who had given birth and only offered partial pay. In June 2018, Northam signed an executive order extending the policy, so that it applies to both mothers and fathers, including not only biological parents, but also adoptive and foster parents. Under the new policy, employees receive eight weeks off at full pay. A similar policy, offering twelve weeks of paid leave, was established for legislative branch employees earlier in the year.[120]


According to the Washington Post, Northam favors the "reinstatement of Virginia's 'one-gun-a-month' law limiting purchases, as well as a ban on high-capacity magazines and assault weapons."[63]

Health care

Northam supports the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare"), although he has argued that it is in need of improvement.[117][121] After Republican attempts to repeal the law, he called for members of Congress to "put a stop to the uncertainty and work on stabilizing and building on the Affordable Care Act's progress."[122]

He opposes a single-payer healthcare system in Virginia, preferring that such a plan would be run by the federal government, but supports the creation of a state-run public health insurance option.[63]

On June 7, 2018, Northam signed a bipartisan bill expanding Medicaid in Virginia.[123] This fulfilled one of his central campaign promises.[124][125] Northam's gubernatorial predecessor Terry McAuliffe had tried throughout all four years of his own term in office to enact Medicaid expansion, but McAuliffe was never able to secure enough support from Republicans, who controlled the state legislature at the time.[126][127] Following the 2017 election, which brought significant gains for Democrats in the Virginia House of Delegates, Republicans still held a narrow legislative majority; during this time however, opposition to Medicaid expansion diminished among Republicans, several of whom were willing to crossover in support of the bill.[123] Once the bill was enacted on January 1, 2019,[128] Virginia became the 33rd state to expand Medicaid[125][128] and the first to do so since Louisiana in 2016.[129][130] Enrollment in the expanded program began on November 1, 2018.[131] By the beginning of 2019, more than 200,000 Virginians had enrolled in Medicaid as part of the expansion.[132]


In his 2007 campaign for state Senate, Northam "advocated for Virginia being 'even more stringent than we are now in fighting illegal immigration,' and said the state should act as 'strong partners' with federal law enforcement."[133] Northam's rhetoric shifted in his 2017 gubernatorial campaign.[133] In 2017 Northam pledged to "stand up against ICE" so that "people, especially immigrants, in Virginia aren't living in fear," saying: "Something that we are very proud of in Virginia is that we are inclusive." He continued by saying "We will do everything we can to make sure immigrants are comfortable living here."[84] Northam opposed President Trump's decision to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), which offered temporary stay for unauthorized immigrants who came to the United States as minors.[134] Northam said Trump's "decision lacks compassion, lacks moral sense, and lacks economic sense."[134] Northam supports granting state driver's licenses and in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants.[133]

In February 2017, Northam cast a tie-breaking vote in the state Senate against a bill to ban sanctuary cities in Virginia.[56] Northam said he was "proud to break a tie when Republicans tried to scapegoat immigrants for political gain" and that he was "glad to put a stop to" the bill.[135] In an October 2017 debate, Northam said he did not support sanctuary cities, stating that there currently were none in Virginia, but Northam declined to say whether he would sign a bill as governor that was similar to the one he voted against in the Senate.[136] In November 2017, Northam clarified that while he would veto any bill pre-emptively banning sanctuary cities in Virginia, he would support a ban, if sanctuary cities began appearing in the state.[56] In April 2018, as governor, Northam vetoed a law that would have pre-emptively banned sanctuary cities in Virginia.[137]


Northam favors decriminalizing marijuana.[63]


During his 2017 campaign for governor, Northam has said that if elected, he will only approve a map of new Virginia legislative and congressional boundaries in the post-2020 redistricting that is drawn by a nonpartisan commission.[138]

Donald Trump

In a political commercial called "Listening," run during the Virginia Democratic primary, Northam described the importance to him of listening—as a doctor, to his patients and as lieutenant governor, to his constituents. He ended with, "I've been listening carefully to Donald Trump, and I think he's a narcissistic maniac."[139] As the general election drew near Northam said, "f Donald Trump is helping Virginia, I'll work with him."[140] Northam explained the "softer tone": "I think people already know and they are judging for themselves. What we are talking about as we move forward are the policies that are coming out of Washington that are so detrimental to Virginia".[140]

Personal life

Northam lives in the Executive Mansion in Richmond. He and his wife Pam have two children, Wes and Aubrey.[141] His brother, Thomas Northam, is a lawyer,[5] and the law partner of Virginia State Senate member Lynwood Lewis, who was elected to the State Senate to replace Northam when he resigned his State Senate seat to assume the position of lieutenant governor. His father, Wescott Northam, is a retired Accomack County judge, former Commonwealth's Attorney, and Navy veteran.[142]

Northam serves as the vice chair of the Fort Monroe Authority, which oversees Fort Monroe, a Civil War historic site where Union General Benjamin Butler sheltered freed slaves.[143] In his free time, Northam enjoys working on classic cars.[144] He owns a 1953 Oldsmobile and a 1971 Corvette.[145]

Northam is a recreational runner and a competitor in races including the Richmond Road Runners' First Day 5k and the Monument Avenue 10K race.[146]

Electoral history Virginia State Senate 6th district election, 2007[147] Party Candidate Votes % ± Democratic Ralph Northam 17,307 54.33% +16.1 Republican Nick Rerras 14,499 45.52% -16.2 Write-ins 45 0.14% +0.09 Majority 2,808 8.81% -14.69 Total votes 31,851 100.0% Virginia State Senate 6th district election, 2011[148] Party Candidate Votes % ± Democratic Ralph Northam 16,606 56.75% +2.42 Republican Benito Loyola Jr. 12,622 43.13% -3.39 Write-ins 31 0.11% -0.03 Majority 3,984 13.62% +4.81 Total votes 29,259 100.0% Virginia Lieutenant Governor Democratic primary, 2013[149] Party Candidate Votes % Democratic Ralph Northam 78,476 54.18% Democratic Aneesh Chopra 66,380 45.82% Majority 12,096 8.35% Total votes 144,856 100.0% Virginia lieutenant gubernatorial election, 2013[150] Party Candidate Votes % ± Democratic Ralph Northam 1,213,155 55.12% +11.72 Republican E. W. Jackson 980,257 44.54% -11.97 Write-ins 7,472 0.34% +0.26 Majority 232,898 10.58% Total votes 2,200,884 100.0% Virginia Governor Democratic primary election, 2017[151] Party Candidate Votes % Democratic Ralph Northam 303,399 55.91% Democratic Tom Perriello 239,216 44.09% Majority 64,183 11.82% Total votes 542,615 100.0% Virginia gubernatorial election, 2017 Party Candidate Votes % Democratic Ralph Northam 1,405,175 53.89% Republican Ed Gillespie 1,173,209 44.99% Libertarian Cliff Hyra 27,964 1.07% Majority 231,966 8.90% Total votes 2,607,725 100.0% References
  1. ^ "Dr. Ralph Northam MD". U.S. News & World Report. U.S. News & World Report L.P. Retrieved 1 February cite.citation{font-style:inherit}.mw-parser-output .citation q{quotes:"\"""\"""'""'"}.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-free a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-limited a,.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-registration a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .citation .cs1-lock-subscription a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration{color:#555}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription span,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration span{border-bottom:1px dotted;cursor:help}.mw-parser-output .cs1-ws-icon a{background:url("//")no-repeat;background-position:right .1em center}.mw-parser-output code.cs1-code{color:inherit;background:inherit;border:inherit;padding:inherit}.mw-parser-output .cs1-hidden-error{display:none;font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-visible-error{font-size:100%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-maint{display:none;color:#33aa33;margin-left:0.3em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-subscription,.mw-parser-output .cs1-registration,.mw-parser-output .cs1-format{font-size:95%}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-left,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-left{padding-left:0.2em}.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-right,.mw-parser-output .cs1-kern-wl-right{padding-right:0.2em}
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  9. ^ a b c Patrick Wilson (June 2, 2017). "Ralph Northam's ancestors owned slaves. He found out only recently". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  10. ^ a b c Jenna Portnoy, Ralph Northam, Va.'s low-key lieutenant governor, juggles politics and pediatrics, Washington Post (July 27, 2014).
  11. ^ a b "Nancy B. Shearer Wed; Johns Hopkins Graduate is Bride of Wescott Northam". The New York Times. April 29, 1956.
  12. ^ a b Gregory S. Schneider (November 4, 2017). "Ralph Northam: Amid politics of extremes, candidate sticks to mild image". The Roanoke Times. Retrieved June 15, 2018.
  13. ^ a b Kevin Robillard, How Donald Trump Blew Up the Virginia Governor's Race, Politico Magazine (April 13, 2017).
  14. ^ a b Lieutenant Governor: Ralph Northam, The Virginian-Pilot.
  15. ^ Full interview transcript: Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, Washington Post (June 1, 2017).
  16. ^ Graham Moomaw, After giving Democrats a brief scare in 2009, Northam says he'd be 'steady hand' as governor, Richmond Times-Dispatch (June 3, 2017).
  17. ^ Zagursky, Erin. "Virginia's new governor to help celebrate W&M's 325th year". William & Mary. Retrieved 1 February 2018.
  18. ^ Jenna Portnoy, Ralph Northam, Va.’s low-key lieutenant governor, juggles politics and pediatrics, Washington Post (July 27, 2014).
  19. ^ Harry Minium, Norfolk doctor had key role in state ultrasound debate, Virginian-Pilot (March 11, 2012).
  20. ^ Ralph S. Northam, Children's hospitals offer many advantages, Richmond Times-Disparch (August 8, 2015).
  21. ^ Fenit Nirappil, Northam grilled on campaign finance, Perriello on abortion at progressive forum, Washington Post (May 3, 2017).
  22. ^ a b Jonathan Martin, Primary for Virginia Governor Tests Power of an Anti-Trump Campaign, New York Times (February 26, 2017).
  23. ^ Virginia State Board of Elections; Election Results for 2007; November 6, 2007 Election Results
  24. ^ Virginia State Board of Elections; Election Results for 2011; 2011 November Official Election Results
  25. ^ Two Democratic hopefuls for Va. governor on schools, Metro and the minimum wage, Washington Post (June 4, 2017).
  26. ^ a b c d e McAuliffe has change of heart on Confederate statues, Washington Post (August 16, 2017).
  27. ^ Kumar, Anita. "Va. Senate Democrats' Edge Little Comfort", Washington Post, February 21, 2009.
  28. ^ Linkins, Jason. "Jeff Frederick's Twitter Use Foils GOP Virginia Senate Coup", Huffington Post, March 13, 2009.
  29. ^ Payne, Kimball. Northam's Move To Share Power Turns Heads, Hampton Roads Daily Press, February 14, 2009.
  30. ^ Walker, Julian (November 19, 2011). "State Sen. Northam spurns GOP offer to switch sides". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved October 31, 2013.
  31. ^ Vozzella, Laura (December 2, 2012). "Sen. Ralph Northam announces lieutenant governor bid". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 31, 2013.
  32. ^ Walker, Julian (April 2, 2013). "McAuliffe named Dem governor nominee, 4 others make ballot". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved April 3, 2013.
  33. ^ Pershing, Ben; Whack, Errin (June 11, 2013). "Democrats give nod to Northam, Herring in statewide races". The Washington Post. Retrieved June 12, 2013.
  34. ^ Virginia SBE - Democratic Lieutenant Governor primary results Archived June 15, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  35. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 9, 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-12.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  36. ^ Vozzella, Laura (February 24, 2015). "Ralph Northam confirms he's running to become next Va. governor". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  37. ^ Nolan, Jim (February 25, 2015). "Northam exploring run for governor in 2017". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  38. ^ Vozzella, Laura (November 17, 2015). "Virginia's lieutenant governor makes it official: He's seeking state's top job". The Washington Post. Retrieved December 18, 2015.
  39. ^ A Fight for the Soul of the Democratic Party in Virginia (The Atlantic)
  40. ^ "Virginia Primary Results: Northam Will Face Gillespie in Governor's Race" – via
  41. ^ Gregory S. Schneider (August 10, 2017). "Candidates hit the airwaves in Virginia's race for governor". The Roanoke Times. Retrieved August 16, 2017.
  42. ^ Nirappil, Fenit (September 16, 2017). "Democrat has twice the cash of opponent in Va. governor's race". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 7, 2017.
  43. ^ Wilson, Patrick. "Gubernatorial candidate Ralph Northam campaign flier removes picture of LG candidate Justin Fairfax". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  44. ^ Nirappil, Fenit (October 19, 2017). "Black Democrat omitted from some Democratic campaign fliers in Virginia". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  45. ^ a b "Ed Gillespie's 'Sanctuary Cities' Attacks". Annenberg Public Policy Center. 2017-09-26.
  46. ^ a b c Nirappil, Fenit (2017-10-06). "Trump backs Republican for Va. governor, accuses the Democrat of enabling 'violent MS-13 killer gangs'". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-10-07.
  47. ^ Eric Bradner. "Why Trump is linking the MS-13 gang to the Virginia governor's race". CNN. Retrieved 2017-10-07.
  48. ^ Weigel, David; Vozzella, Laura (2017-11-02). "Republicans in Virginia and nationwide are using 'sanctuary cities' as a weapon against Democrats". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-11-04.
  49. ^ Olivo, Antonio (2017-11-03). "GMU report gives context to Gillespie's MS-13 attack ads in Va. governor's race". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-11-05.
  50. ^ White House knocks 'political racism' after ad against Virginia Republican (The Hill)
  51. ^ 'Latino Victory Fund' Ad Depicts Ed Gillespie Supporter Terrorizing Minority Children (RealClearPolitics)
  52. ^ a b c Ed O'Keefe; Gregory S. Schneider; Fenit Nirappil (October 31, 2017). "New anti-Gillespie ad sparked by worries about Northam's appeal to minorities". Washington Post. Retrieved November 3, 2017.
  53. ^ Political attack ad showing kids running from Republican pickup truck driver is pulled after New York terror attack (New York Daily News)
  54. ^ 10 On Your Side talks with candidates for Virginia governor (WAVY-TV)
  55. ^ Records show financial connection between Northam campaign and group behind controversial ad (WTTG-TV)
  56. ^ a b c Northam says he'd ban sanctuary cities if one ever appears in Virginia (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
  57. ^ Progressive group ends 'direct aid' to Northam (The Hill)
  58. ^ Nicole Gaudiano (November 3, 2017). "Progressive Group Pulls Aid to Virginia's Democratic Candidate for Governor Over 'Gutless' Position". USA Today. Retrieved November 4, 2017.
  59. ^ Progressives fume as Northam stumbles in Va. (The Hill)
  60. ^ Sanctuary cities flip-flop costly for Virginia Dem Ralph Northam (Fox News)
  61. ^ Obama back on campaign trail to rally for Ralph Northam in Richmond (Washington Post)
  62. ^ Former Vice President Biden campaigns for Ralph Northam in roundtable discussion (AP)
  63. ^ a b c d e f g Ready (or not) to choose Virginia’s next governor? A guide to the race and issues (Washington Post)
  64. ^ VPAP - 2017 Governor (accessed Nov. 3, 2017)
  65. ^ "Democrat Ralph Northam wins Virginia's hard-fought race for governor. @AP race call at 8:12 p.m. EST". Associated Press.
  66. ^ a b c Laura Vozzella; Fenit Nirappil; Gregory S. Schneider (January 13, 2018). "Fiddlers, native Americans and a champion oyster shucker salute new Va. governor". Washington Post. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  67. ^ Carol Vaughn (December 14, 2017). "Virginia Governor-elect Ralph Northam talks Shore roots, priorities for rural Virginia". Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  68. ^ Fenit Nirrapil (January 11, 2018). "Ralph Northam assembles a majority-female Cabinet, a first for Virginia". Washington Post. Retrieved January 13, 2018.
  69. ^ Gregory S. Schneider (January 12, 2018). "Helicopters and oysters: Richmond prepares for Northam's inauguration". Washington Post. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  70. ^ a b Evanne Armour (January 13, 2018). "WATCH: Inauguration of Virginia's 73rd governor". WJHL-TV. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  71. ^ "Editorial: Northam gives the inaugural address Virginia -- and the nation -- needs". The Roanoke Times. January 14, 2018. Retrieved January 15, 2018.
  72. ^ Vozzella, Laura; Morrison, Jim; Schneider, Gregory S. (February 1, 2019). "Gov. Ralph Northam 'deeply sorry' after photo emerges from his 1984 yearbook showing blackface, KKK hood". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  73. ^ "Ralph Northam yearbook page shows men in blackface and KKK robe". Virginian-Pilot. February 1, 2019. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  74. ^ Kelly, Caroline (February 1, 2019). "Virginia governor's yearbook page shows 2 people in blackface, KKK garb". CNN. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  75. ^ a b Virginia governor confirms 1984 yearbook page with racist imagery (Associated Press)
  76. ^ Gov. Ralph Northam ‘deeply sorry’ after photo emerges from his 1984 yearbook showing blackface, KKK hood (Washington Post)
  77. ^ Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam: 'I am deeply sorry for the decision I made' (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
  78. ^ Gov. Ralph Northam ‘deeply sorry’ for blackface, KKK robe yearbook photo (WTVR)
  79. ^ Virginia governor’s 1984 yearbook page features people in blackface and KKK hood (Vox)
  80. ^ Virginia GOP calls for Northam to resign if he’s in photo in blackface or KKK robe (The Hill)
  81. ^ Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam admits he posed in yearbook photo showing men in blackface, Klan robe (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
  82. ^ Daugherty, Owen (February 1, 2019). "Harris calls on Northam to resign
 over KKK, blackface yearbook photo". The Hill. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  83. ^ Vozzella, Laura (2017-09-30). "Gillespie wins key backing after vowing to oppose transgender bathroom bills". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2017-09-30.
  84. ^ a b c "Q&A: Ralph Northam Aims For the Governor's Mansion in Virginia".
  85. ^ Norfolk doctor had key role in state ultrasound debate (Virginian-Pilot)
  86. ^ Fenit Nirappil, Abortion rights group NARAL endorses Northam in Virginia Democratic primary, Washington Post (March 13, 2017).
  87. ^ Va. arm of Planned Parenthood to spend $3 million backing Northam for governor (Washington Post)
  88. ^ For both sides of abortion debate, unusually high stakes in Virginia governor’s race (Washington Post)
  89. ^ Sarah Jones (January 31, 2019). "Here Are the Facts Behind an Abortion Controversy Engulfing Virginia Democrats". Daily Intelligencer. New York. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  90. ^ a b Alan Suderman (January 30, 2019). "Virginia abortion feud erupts; governor blasted for comments". Washington Post. Associated Press. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  91. ^ a b Gregory S. Schneider; Laura Vozzella (January 30, 2019). "Abortion bill draws GOP outrage against Va. Gov. Northam, Democratic legislators". Washington Post. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  92. ^ Graham Moomaw (January 30, 2019). "UPDATED: Trump reacts after Va. Republicans share video of lawmaker backing late-term abortions; Democrats call it an 'orchestrated ambush'". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  93. ^ Kathryn Watson (January 31, 2019). "Virginia governor under fire for comments on late-term abortion bill". CBS News. Retrieved January 31, 2019.
  94. ^ Rick Massimo (January 30, 2019). "Virginia Gov. Northam on road projects, teacher pay, shutdown impact, more". WTOP. Retrieved February 1, 2019.
  95. ^ Virginia governor under fire for comments on late-term abortion bill (CBS)
  96. ^ Republicans seize on liberal positions to paint Democrats as radical (Washington Post)
  97. ^ McAuliffe has change of heart on Confederate statues (Washington Post)
  98. ^ Schneider, Gregory S.; Vozzella, Laura; Nirappil, Fenit (November 4, 2017). "In the final sprint to Election Day, a historic push to turn out voters in Va" – via
  99. ^ Va. gubernatorial contenders clash over monuments, the economy in first TV debate (Washington Post)
  100. ^ Fenit Nirappil (November 5, 2017). "Ready (or not) to choose Virginia's next governor? A guide to the race and issues". Washington Post. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
  101. ^ a b Laura Vozzella (January 9, 2018). "Va. General Assembly convenes after weeks of drama, upheaval". Washington Post. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
  102. ^ a b c Gregory S. Schneider (February 8, 2018). "Northam, Republicans reach bipartisan deal on criminal justice reform bills". Washington Post. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
  103. ^ Laura Vozzella; Justin Jouvenal (January 3, 2017). "McAuliffe proposes criminal justice reforms". Washington Post. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
  104. ^ Laura Vozzella (February 25, 2017). "Virginia legislature gavels out after passing budget that closes $1.2 billion hole". Washington Post. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
  105. ^ Gregory S. Schneider (September 6, 2017). "Gillespie touts criminal justice reform beyond what GOP legislature has embraced". Washington Post. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
  106. ^ Gregory S. Scheider (December 25, 2017). "Could a split Virginia House force delegates to get along? It's happened before". Washington Post. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
  107. ^ a b Washington Post editorial board (February 10, 2018). "Virginia takes one small step toward fairer justice". Washington Post. Retrieved December 7, 2018.
  108. ^ Michael Bieseker; Jake Pearson; Garance Burke (June 21, 2018). "Governor orders probe of abuse claims by immigrant children". Associated Press. Retrieved October 3, 2018.
  109. ^ Gregory S. Schneider (June 21, 2018). "Virginia governor calls for probe into abuse allegations at facility that holds immigrant teens". Washington Post. Retrieved October 3, 2018.
  110. ^ Laura Vozzella (August 13, 2018). "Va. probe finds no evidence of abuse at facility for young immigrant detainees". Washington Post. Retrieved October 3, 2018.
  111. ^ Moomaw, Graham (July 23, 2017). "At first debate, Northam calls Trump 'a dangerous man' as Gillespie says 'resistance' could hurt Virginia". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved June 4, 2018. Northam said he opposed the death penalty, and Gillespie said he supports it.
  112. ^ LiUNA Endorses Ralph Northam for Virginia Governor (press release),
  113. ^ EXCLUSIVE: Interview with Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam, Northam for Governor (April 20, 2017).
  114. ^ a b Graham Moomaw, Northam and Gillespie clash over economy, taxes, Trump, Richmond Times-Dispatch (September 19, 2017).
  115. ^ a b Fenit Nirappil, Va. Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls vow to defy Trump on climate change, Washington Post (June 2, 2017).
  116. ^ Robert Zullo, At Virginia gubernatorial forum on clean water, not much daylight between candidates, Richmond Times-Dispatch (September 6, 2017).
  117. ^ a b c Laura Vozzella (July 22, 2017). "In first debate, Gillespie and Northam tangle over Trump and other issues". Washington Post. Retrieved August 16, 2017.
  118. ^ Gregory S. Schneider, Dominion letter shows why staying neutral on pipeline project could help Northam, Washington Post (May 16, 2017).
  119. ^ Carmen Forman, Northam, Perriello clash over pipelines, taxes at Roanoke debate, Roanoke Times (May 4, 2017).
  120. ^ Laura Vozzella (June 26, 2018). "With executive order, Va. governor expands paid family leave for state employees". Washington Post. Retrieved June 30, 2018.
  121. ^ Nirappil, Fenit (May 4, 2017). "This Democrat's ad shows Republicans crushing Obamacare. Literally" – via
  122. ^ Trump's decision to cut ACA payments elevates health care in Virginia governor's race (Washington Post)
  123. ^ a b Laura Vozzella (June 7, 2018). "Northam signs Medicaid expansion into law on steps of Virginia Capitol". Washington Post. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  124. ^ Laura Vozzella (February 15, 2018). "Rural legislator from southwest Va. breaks the 'Republican Dam' for Medicaid expansion". Washington Post. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  125. ^ a b Matthew Yglesias (May 30, 2018). "Virginia's state Senate just voted to expand Medicaid". Vox. Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  126. ^ Gregory S. Schneider (January 25, 2018). "Medicaid expansion gets off to a rough start in Virginia legislature". Washington Post. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  127. ^ Laura Vozzella (April 6, 2018). "A key Virginia GOP state senator says he is willing to break ranks and vote to expand Medicaid". Washington Post. Retrieved October 7, 2018.
  128. ^ a b Laura Vozzella (May 30, 2018). "Virginia General Assembly approves Medicaid expansion to 400,000 low-income residents". Washington Post. Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  129. ^ Amy Goldstein; Laura Vozzella (May 31, 2018). "Why the Trump administration made it easier for Virginia Republicans to expand Medicaid". Washington Post. Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  130. ^ John McGlennon (May 1, 2018). "Virginia Is On The Verge Of Giving Health Coverage To 400,000, But There's A Catch". Huffington Post. Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  131. ^ Laura Vozzella (October 18, 2018). "Enrollment in Va.'s expanded Medicaid program starts Nov. 1". Washington Post. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
  132. ^ WAVY (2018-12-30). "Gov. Northam says Medicaid has more than 200,000 enrolled". WRIC. Retrieved 2019-01-01.
  133. ^ a b c Va. gubernatorial candidates Northam, Gillespie weigh in on immigration (WJLA)
  134. ^ a b Laura Vozzella (September 9, 2017). "Gillespie says 'dreamers' should not be deported". Washington Post.
  135. ^ Two Democratic hopefuls for Va. governor on schools, Metro and the minimum wage (Washington Post)
  136. ^ Virginia governor candidates trade blows in final debate (Politico)
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References External links Wikimedia Commons has media related to Ralph Northam. Senate of Virginia Preceded by
Nick Rerras Member of the Virginia Senate
from the 6th district

2006–2014 Succeeded by
Lynwood Lewis Political offices Preceded by
Bill Bolling Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
2014–2018 Succeeded by
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Terry McAuliffe Governor of Virginia
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Terry McAuliffe Democratic nominee for Governor of Virginia
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Mike Pence
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  • Secretary of EducationAtif Qarni (2018–present) Secretary of Finance
  • Aubrey Layne (2018–present)
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