Lieutenant Governor of Virginia

Last updated
Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia
Seal of Virginia.svg
Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia
Justin Fairfax (8636601491).jpg
Justin Fairfax

since January 13, 2018
Style The Honorable
Term length Four years
Inaugural holder Shelton Leake

The Lieutenant Governor is a constitutional officer of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Lieutenant Governor is elected every four years along with the Governor and Attorney General. The office is currently held by Democrat Justin Fairfax. The governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately and thus may be of different political parties. The lieutenant governor's office is located in the Oliver Hill Building on Capitol Square in Richmond, Virginia. The lieutenant governor serves as the President of the Senate of Virginia and is first in the line of succession to the governor; in the event the governor dies, resigns, or otherwise leaves office, the lieutenant governor becomes governor. Unlike the governor, the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia can serve consecutive terms.

Virginia State of the United States of America

Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state in the Southeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States located between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains. The geography and climate of the Commonwealth are shaped by the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Chesapeake Bay, which provide habitat for much of its flora and fauna. The capital of the Commonwealth is Richmond; Virginia Beach is the most populous city, and Fairfax County is the most populous political subdivision. The Commonwealth's estimated population as of 2018 is over 8.5 million.

Governor of Virginia head of state and of government of the U.S. commonwealth of Virginia

The Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia serves as the chief executive of the Commonwealth of Virginia for a four-year term. The current holder of the office is Democrat Ralph Northam, who was sworn in on January 13, 2018. His term of office will end in 2022.

Attorney General of Virginia attorney general for the U.S. state of Virginia

The Attorney General of Virginia is an elected constitutional position that holds an executive office in the government of Virginia. Attorneys General are elected for a four-year term in the year following a presidential election. There are no term limits restricting the number of terms someone can serve as Attorney General.


Since the late 1920s, the lieutenant governor has been one of only three positions that competes in a statewide election in Virginia (along with the governor and attorney general). Since the governor cannot serve consecutive terms, whoever is elected lieutenant governor is almost always considered a leading candidate for governor. This is especially the case if the lieutenant governor and the attorney general come from different parties. For example, after Democrat Tim Kaine was elected lieutenant governor and Republican Jerry Kilgore was elected attorney general in 2001, it was virtually taken for granted that they would face each other in the 2005 election.

Democratic Party (United States) Major political party in the United States

The Democratic Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with its rival, the Republican Party. Tracing its heritage back to Thomas Jefferson and James Madison's Democratic-Republican Party, the modern-day Democratic Party was founded around 1828 by supporters of Andrew Jackson, making it the world's oldest active political party.

Tim Kaine United States Senator from Virginia

Timothy Michael Kaine is an American lawyer and politician serving as the junior United States Senator from Virginia since 2013. A member of the Democratic Party, he previously served as the 38th Lieutenant Governor of Virginia from 2002 to 2006 and 70th Governor of Virginia from 2006 to 2010. Kaine was the Democratic nominee for Vice President of the United States in the 2016 election.

Jerry Kilgore (politician) American politician

Jerry Walter Kilgore is an American attorney, politician and member of the Republican Party. He served as the Attorney General of Virginia from 2002 to 2005 and was the Republican nominee for Governor of Virginia in 2005, losing to Democratic nominee Tim Kaine. He is a partner with the law firm Cozen O'Connor and is a member of the firm's leading State Attorneys General practice in Washington, D.C. He also serves as finance chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia.

The office of Lieutenant Governor is of colonial origin and can be traced to the Virginia Council of London. The Council was appointed by the King, and in turn, the Council appointed the Lieutenant Governor or deputy. When the English crown forbade colonial governors' absence from the colonies without leave in 1680, it became the Council’s duty to designate or send a deputy who could exercise all the powers of the Governor under the written instructions of both the crown and the Governor. Virginia’s first Constitution, adopted in 1776, provided a Council of State from which a President was annually selected from its members. The President acted as Lieutenant Governor in the case of the death, inability, or necessary absence of the Governor from the government. The Virginia Constitution of 1851 abolished the Governor’s Council of State and provided for the popular election of the Lieutenant Governor. Shelton Farrar Leake, from Albemarle County, was the first elected Lieutenant Governor, serving from 1852 to 1856.

Constitutionally, the Lieutenant Governor is president of the Senate of Virginia, as is the case with many other lieutenant governors in the United States. Unlike many of his counterparts, the Lieutenant Governor regularly presides over Senate sessions rather than delegating this role to the president pro tempore or majority leader.

Senate of Virginia Upper chamber of Virginia bicameral legislature

The Senate of Virginia is the upper house of the Virginia General Assembly. The Senate is composed of 40 Senators representing an equal number of single-member constituent districts. The Senate is presided over by the Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. Prior to the American War of Independence, the upper house of the General Assembly was represented by the Virginia Governor's Council, consisting of up to 12 executive counselors appointed by the Colonial Royal Governor as advisers and jurists.

A president pro tempore or speaker pro tempore is a constitutionally recognized officer of a legislative body who presides over the chamber in the absence of the normal presiding officer. The phrase pro tempore is Latin "for the time being".

List of Lieutenant Governors of Virginia


   No party/Conservative (3)   Democratic (29)   Whig (2)   Republican (7)

Whig Party (United States) Political party in the USA in the 19th century

The Whig Party was a political party active in the middle of the 19th century in the United States. It was based among middle class conservatives. It favored business, banks, industry, education and social modernization, and opposed a powerful presidency and territorial expansion. Four presidents belonged to the party while in office. It emerged in the 1830s as the leading opponent of Jacksonian democracy, pulling together former members of the National Republican and the Anti-Masonic Party. It had some links to the upscale traditions of the long-defunct Federalist Party. Along with the rival Democratic Party, it was central to the Second Party System from the early 1840s to the mid-1860s. It originally formed in opposition to the policies of President Andrew Jackson and his Democratic Party. It became a formal party within his second term, and slowly receded from influence after 1854.

Republican Party (United States) Major political party in the United States

The Republican Party, also referred to as the GOP, is one of the two major political parties in the United States; the other is its historic rival, the Democratic Party.

1 Shelton Leake Democratic1852–1856 Joseph Johnson
2 Elisha W. McComas 1856–1857 Henry A. Wise
3 William Lowther Jackson Democratic1857–1860 Henry A. Wise
4. Robert Latane Montague 1860–1864 John Letcher
5 Samuel Price Democratic1864–1865 William "Extra Billy" Smith Richmond (Confederate) Government
6 Daniel Polsley Republican1861–1863 John Letcher Restored (Unionist) Government
7 Leopold Copeland Parker Cowper Whig 1863–1865 John Letcher Restored (Unionist) Government
8 Leopold Copeland Parker Cowper Whig 1865–1869 William "Extra Billy" Smith
Francis Harrison Pierpont
Henry H. Wells
Gilbert Carlton Walker
9 John F. Lewis Republican1869–1870 Gilbert Carlton Walker
10 John Lawrence Marye, Jr. Conservative1870–1874 Gilbert Carlton Walker
11 Robert E. Withers Democratic1874–1875 James L. Kemper
12 Henry Wirtz Thomas Republican1875–1878 James L. Kemper
13 James A. Walker Democratic1878–1882 Frederick W. M. Holliday
14 John F. Lewis Republican1882–1886 William E. Cameron
15 John Edward "Parson" Massey Democratic1886–1890 Fitzhugh Lee
16 James Hoge Tyler Democratic1890–1894 Philip W. McKinney
17 Robert Craig Kent Democratic1894–1898 Charles Triplett O'Ferrall
18 Edward Echols Democratic1898–1902 James H. Tyler
19 Joseph Edward Willard Democratic1902–1906 Andrew J. Montague
20 James Taylor Ellyson Democratic1906–1918 Claude A. Swanson
William Hodges Mann
Henry Carter Stuart
21 Benjamin Franklin Buchanan Democratic1918–1922 Westmoreland Davis
22 Junius Edgar West Democratic1922–1930 Elbert L. Trinkle
Harry F. Byrd
23 James H. Price Democratic1930–1938 John Garland Pollard
George C. Peery
24 Saxon Winston Holt Democratic1938–1940 James H. Price died in office, leaving a vacancy
25 William M. Tuck Democratic1942–1946 Colgate Darden
26 Lewis Preston Collins II Democratic1946–1952 William M. Tuck died in office
27 Allie Edward Stokes Stephens Democratic1952–1962 John S. Battle filled Collins's term
28 Mills E. Godwin, Jr. Democratic1962–1966 Albertis Harrison
29 Fred G. Pollard Democratic1966–1970 Mills Godwin
30 J. Sargeant Reynolds Democratic1970–1971 Linwood Holton (Republican)died in office
31 Henry Howell Democratic1971–1974 Linwood Holton (Republican)filled Reynolds's term
32 John N. Dalton Republican1974–1978 Mills Godwin
33 Chuck Robb Democratic1978–1982 John N. Dalton (Republican)
34 Dick Davis Democratic1982–1986 Chuck Robb
35 Douglas Wilder Democratic1986–1990 Gerald Baliles First African American to be elected as Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
36 Don Beyer Democratic1990–1998 Douglas Wilder (Democratic)
George Allen (Republican)
37 John H. Hager Republican1998–2002 Jim Gilmore
38 Tim Kaine Democratic2002–2006 Mark Warner
39 Bill Bolling Republican2006–2014 Tim Kaine (Democratic)
Bob McDonnell (Republican)
40 Ralph Northam Democratic2014–2018 Terry McAuliffe
41 Justin Fairfax Democratic2018–present Ralph Northam

Living former Lieutenant Governors of Virginia

As of January 2018, seven former lieutenant governors of Virginia were alive, the oldest being Douglas Wilder (served 19861990, born 1931). The most recent death of a former lieutenant governor of Virginia was that of Richard J. Davis, Jr. (served 19821986, born 1921), on March 4, 1999. He is also the most recently serving lieutenant governor of Virginia to die.

Douglas Wilder American politician

Lawrence Douglas Wilder is an American lawyer and politician who served as the 66th Governor of Virginia, from 1990 to 1994. He was the first African American to serve as governor of a U.S. state since Reconstruction, and the first elected African-American governor.

Lt. GovernorLt. Gubernatorial termDate of birth (and age)
Chuck Robb 19781982June 26, 1939 (age 80)
Douglas Wilder 19861990January 17, 1931 (age 88)
Don Beyer 19901998June 20, 1950 (age 69)
John H. Hager 19982002August 28, 1936 (age 82)
Tim Kaine 20022006February 26, 1958 (age 61)
Bill Bolling 20062014June 15, 1957 (age 62)
Ralph Northam 20142018September 13, 1959 (age 59)

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