Lieutenant Governor of Virginia

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Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia
Seal of Virginia.svg
Seal of the Commonwealth of Virginia
Winsome Sears in November 2021.jpg
Winsome Earle Sears

since January 15, 2022
StyleThe Honorable
Term lengthFour years
Inaugural holderShelton Leake

The lieutenant governor of Virginia is a constitutional officer of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The lieutenant governor is elected every four years along with the governor and attorney general.

The office is currently held by Winsome Earle Sears, who was elected in 2021 and is the first woman of color to hold this position. The governor and lieutenant governor are elected separately and thus may be of different political parties. The lieutenant governor's office is located in the Oliver Hill Building on Capitol Square in Richmond, Virginia. The lieutenant governor serves as the President of the Senate of Virginia and is first in the line of succession to the governorship; in the event that the governor dies, resigns, or otherwise leaves office, the lieutenant governor becomes governor. In Virginia, the governor is not permitted to serve consecutive terms but the lieutenant governor may do so, and has no term limit. The Lieutenant Governor earns an annual salary of $36,321.[1]

The office of lieutenant governor is of colonial origin and can be traced to the Virginia Council of London. The Council was appointed by the King, and in turn, the Council appointed the Lieutenant Governor or deputy. When the English crown forbade colonial governors' absence from the colonies without leave in 1680, it became the Council's duty to designate or send a deputy who could exercise all the powers of the governor under the written instructions of both the crown and the governor. Virginia's first Constitution, adopted in 1776, provided a Council of State from which a president was annually selected from its members. The president acted as lieutenant governor in the case of the death, inability, or necessary absence of the governor from the government. The Virginia Constitution of 1851 abolished the governor's Council of State and provided for the popular election of the Lieutenant Governor. Shelton Farrar Leake, from Albemarle County, was the first elected lieutenant governor, serving from 1852 to 1856.

Constitutionally, the lieutenant governor is president of the Senate of Virginia, as is the case with many other lieutenant governors in the United States. Unlike many of her counterparts, the lieutenant governor regularly presides over Senate sessions rather than delegating this role to the president pro tempore or majority leader.

Since the late 1920s, the lieutenant governor has been one of only three positions that competes in a statewide election in Virginia (along with the governor and attorney general). Because the governor cannot serve consecutive terms, the incumbent lieutenant governor is often considered a leading candidate for governor.

List of lieutenant governors of Virginia[edit]


  No party/Conservative (3)   Democratic (29)   Whig (2)   Republican (7)

# Name Party Term Governor Notes
1 Shelton Leake Democratic 1852–1856 Joseph Johnson
2 Elisha W. McComas 1856–1857 Henry A. Wise
3 William Lowther Jackson Democratic 1857–1860 Henry A. Wise
4. Robert Latane Montague 1860–1864 John Letcher
5 Samuel Price Democratic 1864–1865 William "Extra Billy" Smith Richmond (Confederate) Government
6 Daniel Polsley Republican 1861–1863 John Letcher Restored (Unionist) Government
7 Leopold Copeland Parker Cowper Whig 1863–1865 John Letcher Restored (Unionist) Government
8 Leopold Copeland Parker Cowper Whig 1865–1869 William "Extra Billy" Smith
Francis Harrison Pierpont
Henry H. Wells
Gilbert Carlton Walker
9 John F. Lewis Republican 1869–1870 Gilbert Carlton Walker
10 John Lawrence Marye, Jr. Conservative 1870–1874 Gilbert Carlton Walker
11 Robert E. Withers Democratic 1874–1875 James L. Kemper
12 Henry Wirtz Thomas Republican 1875–1878 James L. Kemper
13 James A. Walker Democratic 1878–1882 Frederick W. M. Holliday
14 John F. Lewis Republican 1882–1886 William E. Cameron
15 John Edward "Parson" Massey Democratic 1886–1890 Fitzhugh Lee
16 James Hoge Tyler Democratic 1890–1894 Philip W. McKinney
17 Robert Craig Kent Democratic 1894–1898 Charles Triplett O'Ferrall
18 Edward Echols Democratic 1898–1902 James H. Tyler
19 Joseph Edward Willard Democratic 1902–1906 Andrew J. Montague
20 James Taylor Ellyson Democratic 1906–1918 Claude A. Swanson
William Hodges Mann
Henry Carter Stuart
21 Benjamin Franklin Buchanan Democratic 1918–1922 Westmoreland Davis
22 Junius Edgar West Democratic 1922–1930 Elbert L. Trinkle
Harry F. Byrd
23 James H. Price Democratic 1930–1938 John Garland Pollard
George C. Peery
24 Saxon Winston Holt Democratic 1938–1940 James H. Price died in office, leaving a vacancy
25 William M. Tuck Democratic 1942–1946 Colgate Darden
26 Lewis Preston Collins II Democratic 1946–1952 William M. Tuck died in office
27 Allie Edward Stokes Stephens Democratic 1952–1962 John S. Battle filled Collins's term
28 Mills E. Godwin, Jr. Democratic 1962–1966 Albertis Harrison
29 Fred G. Pollard Democratic 1966–1970 Mills Godwin
30 J. Sargeant Reynolds Democratic 1970–1971 Linwood Holton (Republican) died in office
31 Henry Howell Democratic 1971–1974 Linwood Holton (Republican) filled Reynolds's term
32 John N. Dalton Republican 1974–1978 Mills Godwin
33 Chuck Robb Democratic 1978–1982 John N. Dalton (Republican)
34 Dick Davis Democratic 1982–1986 Chuck Robb
35 Douglas Wilder Democratic 1986–1990 Gerald Baliles First African American Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
36 Don Beyer Democratic 1990–1998 Douglas Wilder (Democratic)
George Allen (Republican)
37 John H. Hager Republican 1998–2002 Jim Gilmore
38 Tim Kaine Democratic 2002–2006 Mark Warner
39 Bill Bolling Republican 2006–2014 Tim Kaine (Democratic)
Bob McDonnell (Republican)
40 Ralph Northam Democratic 2014–2018 Terry McAuliffe
41 Justin Fairfax Democratic 2018–2022 Ralph Northam
42 Winsome Sears Republican 2022–present Glenn Youngkin First woman Lieutenant Governor of Virginia

Living former lieutenant governors[edit]

As of October 2022, there are seven living former lieutenant governors of Virginia, the oldest being Douglas Wilder (served 1986–1990, born 1931). The most recent and most recently serving lieutenant governor to die was John H. Hager (served 1998–2002, born 1936) on August 23, 2020.

Lt. Governor Lt. gubernatorial term Date of birth (and age)
Chuck Robb 1978–1982 (1939-06-26) June 26, 1939 (age 83)
Douglas Wilder 1986–1990 (1931-01-17) January 17, 1931 (age 91)
Don Beyer 1990–1998 (1950-06-20) June 20, 1950 (age 72)
Tim Kaine 2002–2006 (1958-02-26) February 26, 1958 (age 64)
Bill Bolling 2006–2014 (1957-06-15) June 15, 1957 (age 65)
Ralph Northam 2014–2018 (1959-09-13) September 13, 1959 (age 63)
Justin Fairfax 2018–2022 (1979-02-17) February 17, 1979 (age 43)


  1. ^ "Lieutenant Governor (state executive office)". Ballotpedia. Retrieved 2022-03-07.

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