Speaker Cox says Northam can’t govern, but voices ‘hesitation about removal from office’

Republican House Speaker Kirk Cox addressed reporters Monday outside of his office in the Capitol, renewing calls for Gov. Ralph Northam's resignation. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

Republican House Speaker Kirk Cox renewed his party’s calls for Gov. Ralph Northam to resign on Monday morning as the General Assembly sets about what would already be a frenetic week of lawmaking.

“It’s become clearer to us … regardless of the veracity of the photograph, the governor has lost the confidence of the people and cannot effectively govern,” he told reporters outside his office in the Capitol.

But Cox said he would be reluctant to support forcibly removing Northam from office.

Republican House Speaker Kirk Cox addressed reporters Monday outside of his office in the Capitol, renewing calls for Gov. Ralph Northam’s resignation. (Ned Oliver/Virginia Mercury)

“I think there’s rightful hesitation about removal from office, because obviously you have to consider that to some degree you’re overturning an election,” he said.

“I think the constitutional provisions are very specific on succession of office. It really does call for mental and physical incapacitation.”

“That’s why we have called for resignation. We hope that’s what the governor does. I think that would obviously be less pain for everyone.”

There are 19 days left in the current legislative session and Wednesday is the deadline for legislation to move between the Senate and House.

Cox said he expects to the House to be working past 7 p.m. today.

“We have to do our job and that’s what we’re going to do,” he said.