Leslie L. Byrne

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Leslie Byrne
Leslie Byrne.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 11th district
In office
January 3, 1993 – January 3, 1995
Preceded by District re-created after the United States Census of 1990
Succeeded by Thomas M. Davis
Personal details
Born (1946-10-27) October 27, 1946 (age 67)
Salt Lake City, Utah
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Larry Byrne

Leslie Byrne (born October 27, 1946 in Salt Lake City, Utah) is a former member of the United States House of Representatives from Virginia, and was the first woman elected to the U.S. Congress from the Commonwealth of Virginia. She served for one term (1993–1995) in the 103rd Congress.

Early life and career[edit]

Byrne grew up in Salt Lake City and attended both the University of Utah and Mount Vernon College in Ohio.[1] Shortly after her family's 1971 arrival in Northern Virginia, Byrne entered the public arena as an activist in community organizations and the Parent Teacher Associations for her children's schools. She served as President of the Fairfax Area League of Women Voters and Chairwoman of the Fairfax County Commission on Fair Campaign Practices.

In 1985, Byrne co-founded Quintech Associates, Inc., a project-based human resources consulting firm to the high-tech community. She served as president of Quintech until her election to Congress in 1992.

She is married to Larry Byrne, who is President of Byrne and Associates, an international consulting firm. They have two grown children, daughter Alexis and son Jason, and three grandchildren.

Political career[edit]

Byrne served in the Virginia House of Delegates for seven years, starting in 1985 by defeating two-term Republican incumbent Gwen Cody, before being elected to the House of Representatives in 1992 from the newly created 11th congressional district. Virginia was awarded an additional House seat as a result of the 1990 U.S. Census.

Representative Leslie Byrne gives her keynote address at the Pentagon, March 31, 1993, during the Women's History Month observance.

She is the first woman to have been elected to Congress from Virginia, and in fact, 1992 was known as the "Year of the Woman" for the large number of women elected to Congress in that election. While a member of the 103rd Congress, she served on the Public Works and Transportation Committee and Subcommittees on Surface Transportation, Water Resources; and Investigations and Oversight. Representative Byrne was also a member of the Post Office and Civil Service Committee, serving on the subcommittee on employee benefits and compensation. The freshman Democratic members of the 103rd Congress elected her to the leadership position of freshman caucus whip. She introduced and passed more legislation than any other freshman representative. In addition, two of her measures on childhood immunization passed into law early in the first session of the 103rd Congress. Rep. Byrne played a role in preventing cuts in federal workers' wages and benefits. Additionally, she helped lead the effort to improve federal oversight of the nation's 1.7 million miles of natural gas and petroleum pipelines. Byrne's legislative efforts included Medicaid reform; increasing opportunities of IRA holders to see their savings for first-time home purchases and college costs; cost savings on federal highway projects through value engineering and enhancing the international market for American high technologies. She helped obtain funds for rail from Tyson's Corner to Dulles.

Thomas M. Davis, then chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, defeated her for re-election in 1994's "Republican Revolution." His campaign charged that Byrne was too liberal for the swing district she represented and that her voting record was too supportive of President Clinton.[2]

In 1996, Byrne sought the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate to challenge incumbent Senator John Warner. Future Virginia Governor Mark Warner (no relation) won the nomination at the 1996 Virginia Democratic Convention, garnering 1,889 delegates to Byrne's 231. He went on to lose to Sen. Warner.

In 1998 Byrne took a job at United States Information Agency advising its director on the au pair program.[3]

Byrne returned to elected office when she was elected to the Senate of Virginia in 1999, winning a very close election against two-term incumbent Republican Jane Woods (45.52% to Wood's 45.39%). She left the Senate after one term, choosing not to seek reelection after she was drawn into the same district as another Democratic incumbent during redistricting. In the Senate of Virginia she sponsored legislation to prohibit people from sleeping in rooms except bedrooms, a response to complaints of students and poor immigrants crowded into residential houses.[4][5]

Byrne was the 2005 Democratic Party candidate for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. Republican Party candidate Bill Bolling defeated her in the November 8, 2005 general election by 1.2%.

In the United States Senate election in Virginia, 2006, Byrne endorsed future Senator James Webb for the Democratic nomination, while many local party activists supported his primary opponent, Harris Miller.

2008 congressional race[edit]

In 2008, Byrne ran for the Democratic nomination for Virginia's 11th congressional district, the seat she held from 1992 to 1994. She was the first to enter the race, well before the incumbent Thomas M. Davis, a Republican, had announced he would choose not to seek reelection. In the primary election on June 10, 2008, she faced Gerald Connolly, Doug Denneny and Lori Alexander. Connolly, Chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, defeated Byrne by 58% to 33%,[6][7] and went on to defeat Republican Keith Fimian, in the general election.

Issues[edit]

Byrne has supported public/private partnerships for transportation, including the Dulles Greenway project when she was in the Virginia House of Delegates. Byrne has said that high-occupancy toll lanes are also promising as long as local governments are kept out of the planning process.[citation needed] Byrne supports linking land use policy to the needs of big business, two policy areas that are typically considered separately in Virginia.[citation needed]

Election results[edit]

Democratic Primary for Virginia's 11th District, 2008
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Gerry Connolly 14,233 57.9
Democratic Leslie Byrne 8,196 33.4
Democratic Doug Denneny 1,508 6.1
Democratic Lori Alexander 638 2.6
General election for Virginia Lt. Governor, 2005
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Bill Bolling 979,265 50.5
Democratic Leslie Byrne 956,906 49.3
Write-ins 4,065 0.2
Democratic Primary for Virginia Lt. Governor, 2005
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Leslie Byrne 37,904 32.8
Democratic Viola Baskerville 30,083 26.1
Democratic Chapman Petersen 24,992 21.7
Democratic Phillip Puckett 22,400 19.4
Virginia Senate election for the 34th District, 1999
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Leslie Byrne 13,719 45.5
Republican Jane Woods (Incumbent) 13,682 45.4
Independent Virginia Dobey 2,726 9.0
U.S. House election for Virginia's 11th District, 1994
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Thomas M. Davis 98,216 52.9 +7.7
Democratic Leslie Byrne (Incumbent) 84,104 45.3 -4.7
Independent Gordon Cruickshank 3,246 1.8
U.S. House election for Virginia's 11th District, 1992
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Leslie Byrne 114,172 50.0
Republican Henry N. Butler 103,119 45.2
Independent Arthur T. Narro 6,681 2.9
Independent Perry Mitchell 4,155 1.8
Virginia House of Delegates election for the 38th District, 1991
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Leslie Byrne (Incumbent) 8,017 60.5 +3.8
Republican Norman Caron 5,226 39.5 -3.8
Virginia House of Delegates election for the 38th District, 1989
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Leslie Byrne (Incumbent) 10,485 56.7 +4.3
Republican A. Strode Brent Jr. 8,018 43.3 -4.3
Virginia House of Delegates election for the 38th District, 1987
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Leslie Byrne (Incumbent) 8,172 52.4 -2.6
Republican A. Strode Brent Jr. 7,434 47.6 +2.6
Virginia House of Delegates election for the 38th District, 1985
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Democratic Leslie Byrne 8,497 55.0
Republican Gwendalyn Cody (Incumbent) 6,941 45.0

References[edit]

  1. ^ Leslie L. Byrne at the Biographical Directory of the United States Congress
  2. ^ "Byrne, Davis Backers Mix It Up." Eric Liption. The Washington Post. October 13, 1994. P. V1.
  3. ^ Walker, Jimmye (1998-02-13). "Press Release". Release No. 02-98. United States Information Agency. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  4. ^ "Bill Would Let Fairfax Limit Sleep to Bedrooms; Va. Senate Passes Legislation That Critics Say Unfairly Targets Crowded Immigrant Homes." The Washington Post. January 27, 2001. P. A1.
  5. ^ Timberg, Craig (1999-10-27). "Statehouse Battle Puts Focus on Key N.Va. Races". The Washington Post. pp. A1. Retrieved 2007-10-09. 
  6. ^ Connolly Wins Dem Nomination For Davis' Seat, CBS News, 2008-06-10.
  7. ^ 2008 June Democratic Primary Unofficial Results, State Board of Elections.

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
New district Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 11th congressional district

1993–1995
Succeeded by
Thomas M. Davis