Jerry Kilgore (politician)

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Jerry Kilgore
43rd Attorney General of Virginia
In office
January 12, 2002 – February 1, 2005
Preceded by Randolph A. Beales
Succeeded by Judith Jagdmann
Personal details
Born Jerry Walter Kilgore
( 1961 -08-23) August 23, 1961 (age 52)
Kingsport, Tennessee
Political party Republican
Alma mater Clinch Valley College
William & Mary School of Law
Profession Lawyer

Jerry Walter Kilgore (born August 23, 1961) is an American politician and lawyer. He was Attorney General of Virginia 2002–05. In 2005, he was the Republican candidate for Governor of Virginia, losing to Tim Kaine. Currently, he is a partner with the law firm McGuireWoods and a senior advisor with McGuireWoods Consulting in Richmond, Virginia.[1]


Born in Kingsport, Tennessee on August 23, 1961, Jerry Kilgore earned a B.A. degree summa cum laude from Clinch Valley College (now the University of Virginia's College at Wise) in 1983, and a J.D. from the William & Mary School of Law in 1986.[1] His twin brother, Terry Kilgore, has served in the Virginia House of Delegates since 1994.

Early career[edit]

During 1987 and 1988, Kilgore served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia. Kilgore was Secretary of Public Safety under Governor George F. Allen from 1994 to 1998. He was elected Attorney General of Virginia in 2001 by a wide margin.

Kilgore is known for his conservative views on social issues, especially with respect to gun control, religion, and abortion. He was critical of Governor Mark Warner's fiscal policy, particularly the 2004 budget that included substantial tax increases. Kilgore garnered national attention for his opposition to the Herndon day-laborer center, and he has traditionally held the view that laws regarding illegal immigration should be enforced stringently.

2005 Election[edit]

Jerry W. Kilgore easily won the primary election against Warrenton Mayor George B. Fitch to become the 2005 Republican nominee for Governor of Virginia. He ran against Lt. Governor Tim Kaine, the Democratic nominee, and state Sen. Russ Potts, a pro-choice Republican running as an independent candidate. Early in the race, Kilgore showed solid 10+ leads in the polls, but Kaine steadily closed the gap and ultimately defeated Kilgore by a margin of 52% to 46%.

Kilgore's campaign was at times criticized for taking steps to avoid debates; Kilgore refused to debate Potts for the majority of the campaign, at times leaving Kaine and Potts to debate each other in his absence. He agreed to debate only with Kaine (excluding Potts), and only if the footage could not be aired in campaign commercials. During this debate, he refused to answer whether or not he would make abortion a crime. This apparent public moderation of his previously open and hard-line stance on abortion troubled some of his conservative supporters.

He was further criticized for failing to limit his negative advertisements to 50% of his campaign's total publicity as Kaine proposed. One such advertisement featured a father whose son had been murdered by a man currently on Virginia's death row; the father expressed doubt that the sentence would be carried out if Kaine were elected and alleged that Kaine would not even have authorized the execution of Adolf Hitler based on an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch [1]. The negative reaction to the mention of Hitler combined with Kaine's pledge to carry out the death penalty and explanation of his personal opposition as arising from his Catholic faith helped to neutralize what many observers thought would've been a potent issue for Kilgore.

In trying to explain how a solid Republican could lose a traditionally Republican state by such a large margin, political commentators have cited numerous key factors. Kaine's campaign had many political advantages, including his association with the state's popular Democratic Governor Mark Warner and defense of Warner's 2004 budget priorities, his "response ads" to Kilgore's death penalty advertisements, which featured him speaking to voters about his religious convictions, his relentless in-person campaigning across the state, and his opposition to tax increases. In contrast, Kilgore's campaign had many political disadvantages, including a backlash over the death penalty ads that Kilgore's campaign ran in the fall, the relatively low poll numbers of then-President George W. Bush at the time the election, and a bitter division between the moderate and conservative wings of the Republican party over tax and spending priorities.

Electoral history[edit]

Date Election Candidate Party Votes  %
Attorney General of Virginia
Nov 6, 2001[2] General J W Kilgore Republican 1,107,068 60.01
A D McEachin Democratic 736,431 39.92
Write Ins 1,282 0.07
Mark Earley resigned for election-year replacement Randolph A. Beales; seat remained Republican
Governor of Virginia
Jun 14, 2005[3] Republican primary J W Kilgore 145,002 82.78
G B Fitch 30,168 17.22
Nov 8, 2005[4] General T M Kaine Democratic 1,025,942 51.72
J W Kilgore Republican 912,327 45.99
H R Potts Jr 43,953 2.22
Write Ins 1,556 0.08
Mark Warner could not run for consecutive terms; seat remained Democratic


  1. ^ a b "Jerry W. Kilgore". McGuireWoods Consulting. Retrieved 2013-01-08. 
  2. ^ "Virginia Election Results - November 6, 2001". Virginia State Board of Elections. Retrieved 2013-04-18. 
  3. ^ "Primary Election - June 14, 2005". Virginia State Board of Elections. Retrieved 2013-04-18. 
  4. ^ "General Election - November 8, 2005". Virginia State Board of Elections. Retrieved 2013-04-18. 
Legal offices
Preceded by
Randolph A. Beales
Attorney General of Virginia
January 12, 2002 – February 1, 2005
Succeeded by
Judith Jagdmann
Party political offices
Preceded by
Mark Earley
Republican Nominee for Governor of Virginia
Succeeded by
Bob McDonnell