Lee J. Carter

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Lee J. Carter
Lee Carter VA.jpg
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
from the 50th district
Assumed office
January 10, 2018
Preceded byJackson Miller
Personal details
Lee Jin Carter

(1987-06-02) June 2, 1987 (age 33)
Elizabeth City, North Carolina, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
EducationNorthern Virginia Community College (AAS)
Military service
Allegiance United States
Branch/service United States Marine Corps
Years of service2006–2011
Unit22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit

Lee Jin Carter (born June 2, 1987) is an American politician who has represented the 50th district in the Virginia House of Delegates since 2018. A member of the Democratic Party, he defeated Jackson Miller, the Republican House Majority Whip, to win the seat. Born in North Carolina, Carter is an IT specialist and a former U.S. Marine. In the House of Delegates, Carter serves on the Finance Committee and the Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee. He is a self-proclaimed democratic socialist, and in 2017, he was endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), of which he is a member.

As a Marine, Carter served in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. His unit, the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, was also one of the first to respond to the 2010 Haiti earthquake.[1]

In January 2021, Carter announced his candidacy for governor of Virginia in the 2021 election.[2]

Early life and military career[edit]

Carter (front) with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit in Kuwait in 2009

Carter was born June 2, 1987, in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.[3][4] He was a member of the United States Marine Corps (USMC) from 2006 to 2011, having attended the USMC Staff Noncommissioned Officer Academy.[5] During his time in the U.S. Marine Corps, Carter completed tours in the Middle East and the Mediterranean.[5] His unit, the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit,[6] was also one of the first to respond to the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.[7]

Carter earned an associate of applied science degree from the Northern Virginia Community College in 2017.[8] He worked as an IT specialist before running for office.[9]

Political career[edit]

2017 campaign[edit]

Carter was inspired to run for office after receiving a shock while repairing a lighting system in the summer of 2015 and subsequently struggling to receive worker's compensation from Virginia while unable to work. Before choosing to run, he had long identified as "to the left of where the Democratic party [is]" but was further inspired by Bernie Sanders to explore democratic socialism.[10]

Carter ran for the Virginia House of Delegates for the 50th district. He was endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), of which he has been a member since April 2017.[10][11] His campaign mostly focused on issues such as single-payer healthcare and financial contributions to politicians. Jackson Miller, the incumbent Republican, distributed a mailer campaign that compared Carter to communist rulers Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong,[10][12][13] an act the Democratic Party of Virginia condemned as fearmongering.[13] Miller called Carter an "anti-jobs candidate" and said his "ideas are so out of the mainstream, and so incredibly expensive".[14] During the campaign, Carter claimed he had little support from the state's Democratic Party, saying their resources were "stretched thin," but that the DSA had "managed to knock on thousands of doors" on his behalf.[15] On November 7, 2017, Carter won the race by nine percentage points.[16] He was one of 15 DSA members elected in 2017.[17]

2019 campaign[edit]

Carter ran for reelection in the 2019 election, defeating his primary opponent, Manassas city councilman Mark Wolfe, by 57.7% to 42.3% of the vote.[18]

In the general election, Carter defeated Republican Ian Lovejoy, another Manassas city councilman, by 53.3% to 46.5% of the vote.[19] Carter was endorsed by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, who campaigned with Carter in Manassas the day before the election.[20]


During Carter's remarks on a tax bill during the 2018 legislative session, fellow Democratic Delegate Mark Keam briefly displayed the hammer and sickle on a laptop behind Carter, an action for which he later apologized;[21][22][23] Keam also apologized for violating Rule 57 in regard to the legislative body's decorum ("No member shall in debate use any language or gesture calculated to wound, offend, or insult another member").[24] Carter dismissed the affair as "clearly [...] a joke, but [...] in very poor taste and rooted in a lack of knowledge about the history of the political left."[22]

Political positions[edit]

Capital punishment[edit]

Carter opposes the death penalty, and introduced a bill in the House of Delegates to abolish it in Virginia.[25]

Criminal justice reform[edit]

Carter introduced legislation in the 2020 session that would prohibit Virginia prisons and jails from strip-searching minors before visitation. The bill passed unanimously in subcommittee.[26]


Carter supports the right to keep and bear arms, and has opposed proposed assault weapons bans in Virginia as a "terrible idea".[27][28] He supports universal background checks, but opposes red flag laws, since he believes they result in right-wing extremists abusing the process to disarm their opposition.[29]


Carter introduced legislation in the 2020 session that would cap the monthly copay for insulin at $30.[30] The bill passed and was signed into law at a $50 monthly copay cap.[31] He received plaudits by Governor Ralph Northam for the bill.[32]


Since taking office, Carter has been an outspoken advocate for workers' rights.[33] In December 2018 he introduced House Bill 1806, which would overturn Virginia's 70-year-old right-to-work law. Of the bill, Carter said, "When workers form a union, everyone in the workplace benefits from higher wages and better conditions [...] Taft–Hartley was created specifically to allow some people to stand opposed to their coworkers' union while still reaping the rewards for free. It was intentionally designed to bankrupt unions, and I'm fighting to end it."[34][35]

In late 2019, after Carter introduced or supported bills overturning restrictions on the ability of Virginia state employees to strike, he received a wave of death threats on social media, as critics mistook the exception of police officers from the bills for a case of their right to strike being removed.[36] These threats were severe and credible enough that Carter spent the day at an undisclosed safe location on January 20, 2020, the day a gun rights rally was organized at the Virginia State Capitol. This coincided with the declaration of a state of emergency by Northam in response to potential violence at the rally.[37]

In the 2020 session, Carter introduced a bill to address pay disparities for certain categories of workers. One bill would prevent employers from categorizing employees as "tipped employees" if state or federal regulations prohibit those employees from accepting tips. This bill targeted workers at Dulles International Airport and Reagan National Airport, who are classified as tipped employees and are ineligible from receiving minimum wage even though they are prohibited from receiving tips.[26]

2020 presidential election[edit]

Carter endorsed Bernie Sanders for president in 2020, and co-chaired his Virginia campaign.[38]

Personal life[edit]

Carter has been married and divorced three times. He has a daughter with his second wife.[39] According to Carter, his third wife physically and emotionally abused him, which resulted in police involvement and an emergency protective order. He has also alluded to being abused earlier in his life.[3] In October 2018, to get ahead of any potential attempts at "personal smears",[39] Carter admitted making "homophobic, transphobic, sometimes sexist or racially insensitive" comments online as a teenager.[39]

On August 19, 2020, Carter's partner, Violet Rae, announced that they were having a child.[40]

While serving as a Virginia delegate, Carter also worked as a Lyft driver.[5]

Electoral history[edit]

Date Election Candidate Party Votes %
Virginia House of Delegates, 50th district
November 7, 2017[41] General Lee J. Carter Democratic 11,366 54.32
Jackson H. Miller Republican 9,518 45.49
June 11, 2019[42] Primary Lee J. Carter Democratic 1,441 57.73
Mark Wolfe Democratic 1,055 42.27
November 5, 2019[43] General Lee J. Carter Democratic 10,693 53.25
Ian T. Lovejoy Republican 9,333 46.48

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Pascale, Jordan (January 12, 2018). "Virginia delegate, a Marine veteran who deployed to Haiti, denounces Trump's comments". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  2. ^ Cain, Andrew. "Del. Lee Carter announces run for governor; he's fifth to seek the Democratic nomination". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved January 2, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Carter, Lee (May 9, 2019). "Why I didn't report my abuser… until I did". Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  4. ^ M. Kirkland Cox, G. Paul Nardo. "Virginia House of Delegates Manual 2018-2019". Clerk's Office of the House of Delegates.
  5. ^ a b c Berti, Daniel (January 8, 2020). "Marine vet, Lyft driver, socialist: Del. Lee Carter confounds his critics". The Prince William Times. Retrieved January 28, 2021.
  6. ^ Jordan Pascale (January 12, 2018). "Virginia delegate, a Marine veteran who deployed to Haiti, denounces Trump's comments". The Virginia-Pilot. Retrieved October 29, 2020.
  7. ^ "District 50: Lee Carter". Virginia Grassroots. Retrieved October 31, 2019.
  8. ^ Lee Carter's Biography
  9. ^ "Virginia House of Delegates Member Listings". virginiageneralassembly.gov. Retrieved May 23, 2019.
  10. ^ a b c Vyse, Graham (November 8, 2017). "How a Socialist Beat One of Virginia's Most Powerful Republicans". The New Republic. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  11. ^ "Meet Lee Carter". jacobinmag.com. Retrieved April 15, 2020.
  12. ^ Joyce, A.P. (November 7, 2017). "Democratic Socialist candidate Lee Carter wins an unlikely victory in Virginia". Mic. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  13. ^ a b Wilson, Patrick (November 2, 2017). "GOP delegate Miller's mailer compares Democratic opponent to Stalin, communists". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  14. ^ Koma, Alex (October 25, 2017). "Miller turns to holding off Carter's challenge in 50th District". InsideNoVa. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  15. ^ Hanna, Andrew; Gee, Taylor (October 1, 2017). "Could America's Socialists Become the Tea Party of the Left?". Politico. Retrieved January 28, 2021.
  16. ^ Day, Meagan (November 10, 2017). "Meet Lee Carter". Jacobin. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  17. ^ Goldberg, Michelle (November 10, 2017). "Revenge of the Obama Coalition". The New York Times. Retrieved November 10, 2017.
  18. ^ Reports, Staff. "UPDATED: Del. Lee Carter fends off challenge from Manassas City Councilman Mark Wolfe". Prince William Times.
  19. ^ "Virginia Election Results: November 5, 2019". The Virginia Public Access Project.
  20. ^ Budryk, Zack (November 6, 2019). "Sanders-backed democratic socialist reelected in Virginia". TheHill. Retrieved November 8, 2019.
  21. ^ Palermo, Jill (February 27, 2018). "Fairfax delegate apologizes to fellow Democratic Del. Lee Carter for hammer-and-sickle joke". Prince William Times. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  22. ^ a b Moomaw, Graham (February 26, 2018). "Democratic lawmaker in Virginia holds hammer-and-sickle image behind colleague aligned with Democratic Socialists". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
  23. ^ "Democratic lawmaker holds hammer-and-sickle behind colleague". WVEC. Associated Press. February 27, 2018. Retrieved May 2, 2019.
  24. ^ Bryan, Alix (February 26, 2018). "Democrat delegate apologizes after he mocks peer with Communist image". WTVR.com. Retrieved February 27, 2018.
  25. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HB1779 > 2021 session". December 29, 2020. Archived from the original on January 28, 2021.
  26. ^ a b Sullivan, Patricia (January 25, 2020). "Virginia's socialist delegate passes his first bill out of the House, two years after taking his seat". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 4, 2020.
  27. ^ Carter, Lee ☃ (December 28, 2019). "Arm the left. Arm LGBTQ folks. Arm communities of color. Arm the poor. Demilitarize the police. Decommodify the basics of survival. And for the love of god SOMEBODY tell Nick to shut his lying-ass mouth". @carterforva. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  28. ^ Beckett, Lois (January 17, 2020). "Pro-gun activists threaten to kill state lawmaker over bill they misunderstood". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved January 19, 2020.
  29. ^ Berti, Daniel (February 18, 2020). "Two Democratic no votes on gun bills came from Prince William lawmakers". Prince William Times. Retrieved December 9, 2020.
  30. ^ O'Connor, Katie (October 4, 2019). "Carter to propose copay cap on insulin". Prince William Times. Retrieved October 31, 2019.
  31. ^ Gonzalez, Will (April 12, 2020). "Northam signs Del. Lee Carter's bill capping insulin copays at $50 a month". Prince William Times. Retrieved June 24, 2020.
  32. ^ Reese, Brian (January 1, 2021). "Del. Lee Carter running for Virginia governor". WAVY. Retrieved January 28, 2021.
  33. ^ Nichols, John (January 7, 2019). "Lee Carter's Campaign for Labor Rights in Virginia Is Important for All Working Americans". The Nation. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  34. ^ "Lee J. Carter on Twitter: "When workers form a union, everyone in the workplace benefits from higher wages and better conditions. But ever since 1947, Virginia has allowed some to freeload off of their coworkers' hard-won union without paying dues. I've filed HB1806 to end this 70+ year injustice."". Twitter. December 30, 2018. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  35. ^ Stockman, Farah (January 17, 2019). "How One Socialist Lawmaker Is Trying to Change His State's Pro-Business Policies". New York Times. Retrieved January 16, 2019.
  36. ^ Carter, Lee ☃ (December 30, 2019). ".@Iraqveteran8888 FYI, your video titled "Gun Gripes #217" starts off with blatantly wrong information about one of my bills, which you disseminated to your 2.2M subscribers. People have been threatening to assassinate me over that misinformation. Retract it and let's talk". @carterforva. Retrieved December 31, 2019.
  37. ^ "Death Threats Will Force Virginia Lawmaker To A Safe House During Pro-Gun Rally". DCist. Archived from the original on January 17, 2020. Retrieved January 17, 2020.
  38. ^ Reports, Staff (February 15, 2020). "Dels. Carter, Guzman will co-chair Bernie Sanders' Virginia campaign". Prince William Times. Retrieved April 10, 2020.
  39. ^ a b c "A Virginia politician's novel approach to personal scandal: Tell all before opponents do". Washington Post.
  40. ^ Rae, Violet ☃ (August 19, 2020). "Good morning, Twitter friends. Some of you have been speculating (in dms) bc I've been less active, and reported feeling sick... It's not contagion, it's conception. I'm expecting, which means @carterforva & I will be adding a new leftist to the mix, March 2021!". @ultvioletrae. Retrieved September 1, 2020.
  41. ^ "Elections: House of Delegates District 50". www.vpap.org. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  42. ^ "Virginia Election Results: June 12, 2018". The Virginia Public Access Project. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  43. ^ "2019 November General". www.results.elections.virginia.gov. Retrieved November 6, 2019.

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