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Northam Sticks to Script in Rare Public Appearance

Northam addresses the Governor’s Conference
Northam addresses the Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade on Tuesday. (Photo: Ben Paviour/WCVE News)

Governor Ralph Northam struck strictly to script in his first public appearance in Richmond since he became engulfed in controversy last month over a racist yearbook photo.

Northam’s keynote address at the Governor’s Conference on Agricultural Trade hewed closely to pre-scandal speeches from the governor, right down to the shout out to his Eastern Shore farm.

“I was just there this weekend,” the governor said. “And over 50 percent of our acreage is understanding water right now.”

Northam sympathized with farmers who he said had a tough year in 2018 due to trade wars and heavy rains, and said the state was working to bridge connections to foreign consumers. He also boasted about the many breweries, wineries, distillers, and cideries across the state.

“So I guess the message for the day is if you leave Virginia thirsty, it’s your own fault,” he joked.

There was a brief mention of racial equity, which Northam says will become a key focus for the remainder of his term.

“Societal inequities must be addressed by supporting minorities who chose to have careers in agriculture and forestry,” Northam said, without elaborating.

The governor was quickly whisked away after his speech and didn’t take questions from the press. He addressed the Public Safety Unmanned Aircraft Systems Conference in Crozet on Monday but doesn’t currently have any other events on his public calendar.