Chap Petersen

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J. Chapman "Chap" Petersen
Member of the Virginia Senate
from the 34th district
Assumed office
January 2008
Preceded by Jeannemarie Devolites Davis
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
from the 37th district
In office
Preceded by Jack Rust
Succeeded by David Bulova
Member of the Fairfax, Virginia city council
In office
Personal details
Born (1968-03-27) March 27, 1968 (age 46)
Fairfax, Virginia
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Sharon
Children Eva, Mary Walton, Thomas
Residence Fairfax, Virginia
Alma mater Williams College
University of Virginia School of Law
Profession Lawyer
Committees Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources; General Laws and Technology; Privileges and Elections; Transportation

John Chapman "Chap" Petersen (born March 27, 1968 in Fairfax, Virginia) is an American politician. A Democrat, he served in the Virginia House of Delegates 2002–06 and was elected to the Virginia State Senate in November 2007. He currently represents the state's 34th district, made up of the city of Fairfax and part of Fairfax County.[1]

Early life[edit]

Petersen was born in 1968 in Fairfax. He grew up in the city and graduated from Fairfax High School in 1986. He received a B.A. degree from Williams College in 1990 and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1994, when he began practicing law. He is currently a partner with the law firm of Surovell, Markle, Isaacs & Levy, PLC.[1][2]

Petersen's wife Sharon (born September 10, 1970, Daegu, South Korea), is also a practicing attorney.[3] They and their children, Eva, Mary Walton, Thomas and Ida live in Fairfax City.[2]

Political career[edit]

Petersen served on the Fairfax city council 1998–2001. He was elected to two terms in the House of Delegates, both times (2001 and 2003) defeating his predecessor, Republican Jack Rust.[4][5]

In 2005, Petersen ran for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. He was defeated in the Democratic primary, finishing third with 22% of the vote in a four-way race, behind State Senator Leslie L. Byrne and State Delegate Viola Baskerville, but ahead of State Senator Phil Puckett.[6]

In 2006, Petersen was a senior advisor to Democratic Senate candidate Jim Webb, who defeated incumbent Republican Senator George Allen.

2007 State Senate election[edit]

Petersen announced his candidacy for the 34th district seat in the State Senate, Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2007.[7] He defeated the incumbent Republican, Jeannemarie Devolites-Davis, wife of Congressman Tom Davis, in the November election, taking 55% of the vote. The district had been the most Democratic state senate district held by a Republican.[8]

Political Positions[edit]

Gun Control[edit]

  • Petersen has voted multiple times against Castle Doctrine bills
    • In January 2011, Petersen voted against Senate Bill 876 (Castle Doctrine) which would have allowed “a lawful occupant use of physical force, including deadly force, against an intruder in his dwelling who has committed an overt act against him, without civil liability.” [9]
    • In February 2011, Petersen was one of eight senators on the Senate Courts of Justice Committee who “passed by indefinitely” House Bill 1573, defeating the bill by an 8 to 4 margin.[10]

Controversy over voting record[edit]

In mid-October 2007, Petersen's opponent began running television ads showing a photo of her opponent Chap Petersen with text stating "Supports Increasing the Estate Tax," "Supports a 38 cent gas tax increase," and "Voted for Concealed Weapons on School Property" superimposed. The voice over attributes these allegations to Petersen's prior votes in the Virginia House of Delegates. Davis's website also contains references to past Petersen votes.[11] Petersen responded that he never voted to increase the Virginia estate tax. Petersen co-sponsored bills, including SB 1309, intending to preserve the tax for Virginians in higher income brackets. Petersen also denied ever supporting a 38 cent gas tax increase. Petersen recently explained that he supported the current law which makes it a felony to possess a gun on school grounds, but voted for a bipartisan bill, HB 2535, which gave a limited exception to parents with licensed concealed carry permits who pick up their children at school, for just school driveways. That bill was signed into law in 2005.

Campaign flyer flap[edit]

During the week of October 22, 2007, the Devolites-Davis campaign sent out 60,000 campaign flyers accusing Petersen of not disclosing that his former law firm was working on issues that Petersen voted on while in the House of Delegates. The flyer included a copy of a section of Petersen's Statement of Economic Interest, which he filed while serving in the House. It includes Petersen's home address, telephone number, and the names of his wife and four children. This information was not redacted by the Devolites-Davis campaign.[12] [13] [14] [15] [16]

Petersen held a press conference on October 26 in front of Devolites-Davis' headquarters in Fairfax. He said that "words cannot describe the anger I feel" about the flyer, and called it "shocking" that Devolites-Davis would use his personal information in such a manner. Petersen said that advertising his personal information was not in and of itself a problem, but using it in an attack ad went too far. Such tactics, Petersen said, endangered his family. In response, Devolites-Davis said in her own press conference that Petersen himself published the names and pictures of his family, and showed a mailer from the Petersen campaign showing pictures of his children. The mailer identifies the children by name. She also claimed that Petersen's campaign uploaded a video to YouTube which brought up her daughter's armed robbery conviction of several years ago. However, according to Washington CBS affiliate WUSA, there is no evidence anyone from the Petersen camp uploaded the video.[12][13][14][15][16]


  1. ^ a b Senate of Virginia bio
  2. ^ a b "About Chap". Chap Petersen; State Senator; 34th District, Virginia. 
  3. ^ "Jean Galloway Ball, P.L.C. - Sharon Kim Petersen". Retrieved 2007-01-22. 
  4. ^ "November 6, 2001 General and Special Elections". Virginia State Board of Elections. 
  5. ^ "Commonwealth of Virginia; November 4, 2003 General Election". Virginia State Board of Elections. 
  6. ^ "Commonwealth of Virginia; June 14, 2005 Primary Election". Virginia State Board of Elections. 
  7. ^ Glendenning, Lauren (2007-01-03). "Petersen To Challenge Devolites Davis; Former delegate to seek state senate seat.". Fairfax Connection. Retrieved 2009-01-27. 
  8. ^ The Washington Post |url= missing title (help). [dead link]
  9. ^ Norfolk Examiner, January 19, 2011
  10. ^ National Rifle Association, February 15, 2011
  11. ^ Retrieved 2007-10-16.
  12. ^ a b Virginia State Senate Race Heats Up|ABC 7 News
  13. ^ a b Va. State Senate Race Turns Tense - News Story - WRC | Washington
  14. ^ a b MyFox Washington DC | Accusations of Dirty Tactics in VA Senate Race
  15. ^ a b Personal Accusations Fly In Contentious Va. Senate Race
  16. ^ a b Gardner, Amy (October 27, 2007). "Candidate Cries Foul Over Mailing". The Washington Post. 


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