As he works to clean up his image, following Democrats’ calls for his resignation after the blackface photos surfaced, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D) office released a statement on Tuesday touting his past efforts to restore civil rights to felons and notably underscoring his belief in “second chances.”
The statement doesn’t reference any new action taken by the governor, and it comes amid reports that Northam will go on a listening tour of the state, in hopes of winning back favor with African American voters by investing in historically black institutions and taking down Confederate statues.
“I believe in second chances and making our Commonwealth more open and accessible to all,” Northam said in the statement that highlighted the restoration of civil rights for “10,992 Virginians previously convicted of a felony.”
“Virginians who have repaid their debts should be able to return to society, get a good job, and participate in our democracy. This is an important achievement that marks my administration’s unwavering commitment to fairness, rehabilitation, and restorative justice,” he added.
The restoration of voting rights, which Northam highlighted in his statement, is especially important to the African American community. The statement also gives credit to Northam’s predecessors and notes “Northam has continued to restore the rights of individuals returning into society after being released from supervision.”
Despite a botched handling of the blackface controversy, Northam has dug his heels in and reportedly plans to stay in office, despite an onslaught of calls for him to step down.