Don Beyer

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Don Beyer
Donald S Beyer Jr ambassador.jpg
United States Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein
In office
August 5, 2009 – May 29, 2013
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Peter R. Coneway
Succeeded by Jeffrey R. Cellars
36th Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
In office
January 14, 1990 – January 17, 1998
Preceded by Douglas Wilder
Succeeded by John H. Hager
Personal details
Born Donald Sternoff Beyer, Jr.
(1950-06-20) June 20, 1950 (age 64)
Trieste now Trieste, Italy
Political party Democratic Party
Spouse(s) Megan Beyer
Residence Alexandria, Virginia
Alma mater Williams College
Profession Business, Philanthropy

Donald Sternoff "Don" Beyer, Jr. (born June 20, 1950) is an American businessman, diplomat and Democratic Party politician. Beyer owns automobile dealerships in Virginia, and has a long record of involvement in community, political and philanthropic work. From 1990 to 1998 he served as the 36th Lieutenant Governor of Virginia during the gubernatorial administrations of Democrat Doug Wilder (1990–1994) and Republican George Allen (1994–1998). His party's nominee for Governor in 1997, he lost to Republican Jim Gilmore, the Attorney General of Virginia. From 2009 to 2013, he served as United States Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein.[1]

In 2014, Beyer announced his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives seat for Virginia's 8th congressional district currently held by the retiring Jim Moran. Beyer won the June 2014 Democratic primary with 45% of the vote, and faces Republican Micah Edmond in the November election.

Early life[edit]

Beyer was born in the Free Territory of Trieste, now Trieste, Italy, the son of U.S. Army officer Don Beyer and his wife, Nancy.[2] The oldest of six children, he was raised in Washington, D.C. In 1968 he graduated from Gonzaga College High School, where he was salutatorian of his class; in 1972 he graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Williams College, magna cum laude, in economics. Beyer was a Presidential Scholar in 1968, and was a National Merit Scholarship winner. He graduated from a winter Outward Bound course at Dartmouth College in January 1971, and attended Wellesley College that year as part of the "12 College Exchange" program.[3]

Political career[edit]

Don Beyer

Beyer was elected Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in 1989, beating Republican state senator Edwina P. Dalton. He was re-elected in 1993, beating Republican Michael Farris 54-46 percent, as Republicans George Allen and Jim Gilmore were elected on the same ballot as Governor and Attorney General, respectively. Farris's close connection to conservative leaders such as Jerry Falwell of the Moral Majority, Pat Robertson of the Christian Coalition and Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum, as well as his adherence to the Quiverfull movement[4][5] stirred deep-seated feelings about religion and politics. Some argued that these concerns, inflamed by negative ads by Beyer, caused alienation of enough moderate voters to cause Farris to lose the election.[6] Prominent Virginia Republicans such as U.S. Senator John Warner supported Beyer ahead of Farris.

During his tenure as Lieutenant Governor, Beyer served as president of the Virginia Senate. He chaired the Virginia Economic Recovery Commission, the Virginia Commission on Sexual Assault, the Virginia Commission on Disabilities, the Poverty Commission and was co-founder of the Northern Virginia Technology Council, an outgrowth of the Chamber of Commerce.[7] He was active in promoting high-tech industries, and lead the fight to eliminate disincentives in the Virginia Tax Code to high-tech research and development.[8]

He is also credited with writing the original welfare reform legislation in Virginia.[9]

Beyer was the Democratic nominee for governor in 1997, losing in the general election to Republican Jim Gilmore. He served as Finance Chairman for Mark Warner's Political Action Committee, "Forward Together"[10] and as the National Treasurer for the 2004 presidential campaign of former Vermont Governor Howard Dean.[11] Following Dean's withdrawal from that race, he served as chairman of the Kerry/Edwards presidential campaign in Virginia.[12]

During 2007–08, he endorsed and campaigned extensively for presidential candidate Barack Obama,.[13] He served as chairman of the Mid Atlantic Finance Council of Obama for America campaign,[14] and served on the campaign's National Finance Council.

He was appointed by the Democratic National Committee to serve at the 2008 DNC Convention on the Credentials Committee.[15]

Following the 2008 election, President-elect Obama asked Beyer to head up the transition team at the Commerce Department.[16]

Obama nominated Beyer for the post of United States Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein on June 12, 2009.[17] In December 2010 Beyer attracted public attention when it was reported that he had warned the Swiss government against offering asylum to Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange.[18]

Congress[edit]

On January 24, 2014, Beyer announced that he was running for Virginia's 8th congressional district in the 2014 elections to succeed retiring Democratic incumbent Jim Moran.[19] It was his first partisan race since losing the 1997 gubernatorial election. He won the June 10 Democratic primary with 45.7 percent of the vote.[20]

Beyer will face Republican nominee Micah Edmond in the general election. However, Beyer is heavily favored due to the district's strong Democratic tilt. With a Cook Partisan Voting Index of D+16, the 8th is one of the most Democratic white-majority districts in the South; among Virginia districts, only the 3rd is more Democratic.

Business interests[edit]

Beyer and his younger brother, Michael, are the owners of nine Volvo, Land Rover, Kia, Volkswagen and Subaru car dealerships in Northern Virginia. He is a past chair of the National Volvo Retailer Advisory Board.

In 2006, he served as chairman of the American International Automobile Dealers Association.[21]

Beyer served as a member of the board of Demosphere International, Inc., a leading soccer registration software provider.[22] He was also a board member of History Associates, which bills itself as "The Best Company in History."[23] He has served on the Virginia Board of First Union National Bank, the board of Shenandoah Life Insurance Company, and the board of Lightly Expressed, a fiber optic lighting design and manufacturing firm.

Community, family, personal[edit]

During nearly three decades of community activism, he has taken leadership roles on the boards of many business, philanthropic and public policy organizations, including the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board, the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and the American Cancer Society. He has received numerous awards and honors, including the Grand Award for Highway Safety from the National Safety Federation; the James C. Wheat, Jr. Award for Service to Virginians with Disabilities;[24] the Earl Williams Leadership in Technology Award; and the Thomas Jefferson Award for 2012 from American Citizens Abroad.[25]

He chaired the board of the Alexandria Community Trust, Alexandria's community foundation,[26] and the board of Jobs for Virginia Graduates, the state's largest high school dropout prevention program.[27] He is past president of the board of Youth for Tomorrow, Washington Redskins' coach Joe Gibbs' residential home for troubled adolescent boys and girls.[28] He also served on the board of the DC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.[29]

Beyer and his wife, Megan, have two children, Clara and Grace. In addition, he has two children, Don and Stephanie, from a previous marriage,[30] and two grandchildren, Ava Anne and William Sternoff Kirby.[31]

References[edit]

  1. ^ World Radio Switzerland, May 27, 2013
  2. ^ The Virginian-Pilot, September 21, 1997
  3. ^ 12 College Exchange program manual[dead link]
  4. ^ "Bio for Mr Farris" (in American English). Retrieved 2007-04-20. 
  5. ^ Farris, Vickie (2002). A Mom Just Like You. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8054-2586-1. 
  6. ^ Don Beyer, Mike Farris, and the Wizard of Oz; how the election for Lt. Governor of Virginia became a testing ground for the Christian right - Campaigns & Elections Dec-Jan 1993
  7. ^ Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, 1990s[dead link]
  8. ^ Virginia Business magazine, July 1997[dead link]
  9. ^ The Virginian-Pilot, February 16, 1995
  10. ^ The Virginian-Pilot, December 7, 2005
  11. ^ RaisingKaine blog, May 3, 2007[dead link]
  12. ^ "More Dean Endorsements". Burnt Orange Report. January 31, 2005. Retrieved July 29, 2013. 
  13. ^ "''WTOP'' radio news, April 21, 2007". Wtopnews.com. Retrieved September 23, 2011. 
  14. ^ "Linked In profile". Linked In. Retrieved July 27, 2013. 
  15. ^ Armstrong, Jerome. "Blogger report, 2008". Mydd.com. Retrieved September 23, 2011. 
  16. ^ "State Department biography". State.gov. Retrieved September 23, 2011. 
  17. ^ Bellantoni, Christina (June 12, 2009). "Big Obama donor picked as envoy to Switzerland". Washington Times. Retrieved June 12, 2009. 
  18. ^ "Der Sonntag - Politiker Wollen Wikileaks-Chef Helfen: Asyl Für Assange!". Sonntagonline.ch. Retrieved September 23, 2011. 
  19. ^ Emily Cahn (January 24, 2014). "Democrat Don Beyer Will Run to Replace Jim Moran in Virginia". Roll Call. Retrieved January 24, 2014. 
  20. ^ Associated Press (June 10, 2014). "Beyer wins Va. Democratic Primary". Retrieved June 11, 2014. 
  21. ^ American International Automobile Dealers Association press release, June 1, 2006[dead link]
  22. ^ Demosphere website
  23. ^ "History Associates website". Historyassociates.com. Retrieved September 23, 2011. 
  24. ^ "Virginia Board for People with Disabilities Newsletter, August 2001". Vaboard.org. May 23, 2009. Retrieved September 23, 2011. 
  25. ^ American Citizens Abroad, March 4, 2013
  26. ^ "''The Connection Newspapers'', September 7, 2006". Connectionnewspapers.com. Retrieved September 23, 2011. 
  27. ^ Jobs for Virginia Graduates website[dead link]
  28. ^ Youth for Tomorrow website[dead link]
  29. ^ "DC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy website". Teenpregnancydc.org. Retrieved September 23, 2011. 
  30. ^ "From the Potomac to the Aare". Google.com. Retrieved September 23, 2011. 
  31. ^ Belle Haven newsletter

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Douglas Wilder
Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
January 13, 1990 – January 17, 1998
Succeeded by
John H. Hager
Business positions
Preceded by
Don Hicks
Chairman of American International Automobile
Dealers Association

2006–2007
Succeeded by
John Hawkins
Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Peter R. Coneway
U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland
2009 – 2013
Succeeded by
Jeffrey R. Cellars