RICHMOND, Va. (WDBJ7) Governor Ralph Northam has come a long way since his administration was rocked by scandal early last year.
With Democrats in control of the legislature, and his response to COVID-19 now in the public eye, Northam's numbers have soared in the latest Roanoke College poll.
"Governor Northam's job approval rating is the highest that we've seen for him at 59%, which is up 19% from just three months ago," said poll director and WDBJ7 Political Analyst Harry Wilson. .
That doesn't mean he's free from criticism.
Republican leaders in the General Assembly have questioned his response to COVID-19.
"I'm not in the business of giving grades," said Delegate Todd Gilbert in a recent interview, "but the Governor's consistency and leadership have been lacking."
Tuesday, President Trump targeted Northam during an event that included some Virginia farmers.
"We're going after Virginia with your crazy governor," he said. "They want to take your Second Amendment, you know that, right? You'll have nobody guarding your potatoes."
I grew up on a Virginia farm, Mr. President—our potatoes are fine. And as the only medical doctor among our nation's governors, I suggest you stop taking hydroxychloroquine.— Ralph Northam (@GovernorVA) May 19, 2020
Let's all get back to work. https://t.co/eay8saxcK1
Northam responded with a tweet: "I grew up on a Virginia farm, Mr. President. Our potatoes are fine. And as the only medical doctor among our nation's governors," he wrote, "I suggest you stop taking hydroxychloroquine."
Harry Wilson said Northam is benefiting from being in charge during a crisis.
"I think what we're seeing here is what we used to see at the presidential level, in terms of a national crisis," Wilson said. "We'd see what people call in political science the rally-around-the-flag effect, which was really rally around the President. The presidential approval would go up during times of crisis, and I suspect that's what we're seeing here with Governor Northam."
Wilson said Northam's job approval was almost this high two years ago, before a blackface scandal caused his ratings to plummet.
Now he says, Northam has regained that ground and then some.
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