Ralph Northam sworn in as Virginia’s 73rd governor

WASHINGTON — For the most part, it was a cold and dreary Saturday in Richmond, Virginia. But the sun did manage to break through as Ralph Northam took the oath to office.

Northam told the crowds that gathered to see him that working together with the Republican led General Assembly was key.

But Northam is also backing Medicaid expansion that Republican leaders strongly oppose.

“The solution to these problems are not easy, but we do know what they are,” Northam told the crowds. “The way ahead starts with access to quality health care and quality public education for every Virginian, no matter whom they are or where they live.”

Northam won the election by nearly nine points over Republican Ed Gillespie in November, partially due to strong voter antipathy to President Donald Trump.

While Northam did promise to govern in a bipartisan manner, he also campaigned on standing up to Trump and took at least one shot at the president in his speech.

“It can be hard to find our way in a time when there’s so much shouting, when nasty shallow tweets take the place of honest debate,” he said. “If you’ve felt that way, I want to you listen to me right now: We are bigger than this.”

Northam said Virginia was an example that the rest of the country could follow.

“We all have a moral compass deep in our hearts,” he said. “And it’s time to summon it again because we have a lot of work to do.”

Northam also pointed to his time as a doctor to offer a sympathetic ear saying he would try to do the same as governor.

“A good doctor listens first to what a patient is saying and not saying,” he said. “As governor, I will approach these challenges with the same skills I learned as a doctor.”

As is tradition in Virginia, outgoing governor Terry McAuliffe slipped away before Northam’s speech and handed him the keys to the Executive Mansion just before the ceremony got under way.

A parade with participants from across Virginia kicked off the celebration of Northam’s inauguration.

Members of the Virginia National Guard were at the start of the procession as were members of the Crooked Road Fiddle Army from southwest Virginia and service animals from Semper K9 Assistance Dogs from Prince William County. The dogs aid wounded, critically ill and injured members of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Members of the Virginia Military Institute Corps of Cadets, which Northam is a graduate of, also marched.

Northam addressed the cadets by saying, “I am proud to be one of you.”

WTOP’s Max Smith and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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