Lieutenant Governor of Virginia

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Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia
Seal of Virginia.svg
Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia
Ralph Northam 2008-10-28.jpg
Ralph Northam

since January 11, 2014
Style The Honorable
Term length Four years
Inaugural holder Shelton Leake
Formation 1852

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 Ralph Northam. 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 run for re-election.

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 succeed himself, 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.

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 Governor's 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 most of his counterparts, however, the lieutenant governor usually presides over the chamber.

List of Lieutenant Governors of Virginia


      No party/Conservative       Democratic       Whig       Republican

# Name Party Term Notes
1 Shelton Leake Democratic 1852-1856
2 Elisha W. McComas 1856-1857
3 William Lowther Jackson Democratic 1857-1860
4. Robert Latane Montague 1860-1864
5 Samuel Price Democratic 1864-1865 Richmond (Confederate) Government
6 Daniel Polsley Republican 1861-1863 Restored (Unionist) Government
7 Leopold Copeland Parker Cowper Whig 1863-1865 Restored (Unionist) Government
8 Leopold Copeland Parker Cowper Whig 1865-1869
9 John F. Lewis Republican 1869-1870
10 John Lawrence Marye, Jr. Conservative 1870-1874
11 Robert E. Withers Democratic 1874-1875
12 Henry Wirtz Thomas Republican 1875-1878
13 James A. Walker Democratic 1878-1882
14 John F. Lewis Republican 1882-1886
15 John Edward "Parson" Massey Democratic 1886-1890
16 James Hoge Tyler Democratic 1890-1894
17 Robert Craig Kent Democratic 1894-1898
18 Edward Echols Democratic 1898-1902
19 Joseph Edward Willard Democratic 1902-1906
20 James Taylor Ellyson Democratic 1906-1918
21 Benjamin Franklin Buchanan Democratic 1918-1922
22 Junius Edgar West Democratic 1922-1930
23 James H. Price Democratic 1930-1938
24 Saxon Winston Holt Democratic 1938-1940 died in office, leaving a vacancy
25 William M. Tuck Democratic 1942-1946
26 Lewis Preston Collins II Democratic 1946-1952 died in office
27 Allie Edward Stokes Stephens Democratic 1952-1962 filled Collins's term
28 Mills E. Godwin, Jr. Democratic 1962-1966
29 Fred G. Pollard Democratic 1966-1970
30 J. Sargeant Reynolds Democratic 1970-1971 died in office
31 Henry Howell Democratic 1971-1974 filled Reynolds's term
32 John N. Dalton Republican 1974-1978
33 Chuck Robb Democratic 1978-1982
34 Richard Joseph Davis Democratic 1982-1986
35 Douglas Wilder Democratic 1986-1990 First African American to be elected as Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
36 Don Beyer Democratic 1990-1998
37 John H. Hager Republican 1998-2002
38 Tim Kaine Democratic 2002-2006
39 Bill Bolling Republican 2006-2014
40 Ralph Northam Democratic 2014-present

Living former lieutenant governors

As of August 2014, six former lieutenant governors were alive, the oldest being Douglas Wilder (1986–1990, born 1931). The most recent death of a former lieutenant governor was that of Richard J. Davis, Jr. (1982–1986), on March 4, 1999. He is also the most recently serving lieutenant governor to die.

Lt. Governor Lt. Gubernatorial term Date of birth (and age)
Chuck Robb 1978–1982 (1939-06-26) June 26, 1939 (age 79)
Douglas Wilder 1986–1990 (1931-01-17) January 17, 1931 (age 88)
Don Beyer 1990–1998 (1950-06-20) June 20, 1950 (age 68)
John H. Hager 1998–2002 (1936-08-28) August 28, 1936 (age 82)
Tim Kaine 2002–2006 (1958-02-26) February 26, 1958 (age 61)
Bill Bolling 2006–2014 (1957-06-15) June 15, 1957 (age 61)

External links