Randy Forbes

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Randy Forbes
Randy Forbes, official Congressional photo portrait, standing.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 4th district
In office
June 19, 2001 – January 3, 2017
Preceded by Norman Sisisky
Succeeded by Donald McEachin
Member of the Virginia Senate
from the 14th district
In office
January 6, 1998 – June 19, 2001
Preceded by Mark Earley
Succeeded by Harry Blevins
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
from the 78th district
In office
January 10, 1990 – January 5, 1998
Preceded by Frederick Creekmore
Succeeded by Harry Blevins
Personal details
Born James Randy Forbes
(1952-02-17) February 17, 1952 (age 65)
Chesapeake, Virginia, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Shirley Forbes
Children 4
Alma mater Randolph-Macon College (BA)
University of Virginia (JD)

James Randy Forbes (born February 17, 1952) is an American politician. A member of the Republican Party, he was the U.S. Representative for Virginia's 4th congressional district, serving from 2001 to 2017.

Prior to joining the United States Congress, he was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates, Virginia State Senate, and Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia. Forbes formerly served as Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee. Congressman Forbes never served in the U.S. military, but advocated for veterans, defense contractors and ship building political caucuses.[1]

Since Donald Trump was elected as U.S. President in November 2016, some experts, members of Congress, and media have recommended or endorsed Randy Forbes to be Secretary of the Navy.[2][3][4][5][6][7] Forbes campaigned for Donald Trump in the Presidential election in 2016, but was passed over for the first-round nomination of Secretary of the Navy.

In February 2017, Forbes joined the faculty of the U.S. Naval War College as a senior distinguished fellow.[8]

Early life, education and career[edit]

Forbes was born in Chesapeake, Virginia, the son of Thelma and Malcolm J. Forbes.[9] Forbes graduated first in his class from Randolph-Macon College in 1974.

He received his Juris Doctor from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1977. Forbes worked in private practice for Kaufman & Canoles PC.[10]

Political career[edit]

Forbes served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1989 to 1997 and the Virginia State Senate from 1997 to 2001. He was first elected to the House in 2001 to fill a vacancy caused by the death of ten-term Democratic Congressman Norman Sisisky; defeating Democratic State Senator Louise Lucas 52–48%.[11] After the 4th district was reconfigured as part of redistricting. He ran unopposed by Democrats in 2002 and 2006. In 2004, he faced Jonathan R. Menefee, and won with 65% of the vote.[12] He faced Wynne LeGrow in the 2010 election, and was easily re-elected with 62% of the vote. In 2012, he defeated Chesapeake City Councilwoman Ella Ward with 57% of the vote.[citation needed]

Forbes was the Founder and Chairman of the Congressional Prayer Caucus and the Congressional China Caucus. He championed a plan to rebuild the Navy to 350 ships as Chairman of the House Seapower Subcommittee.

Forbes was Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia from 1996 to 2001. On February 8, 2016, he announced that he would run for election to Virginia's 2nd Congressional District in November 2016, after the 4th District, where he had previously held office, was redrawn to cover most of the majority-black areas in and around Richmond. The 2nd District was vacated by Scott Rigell.[13]

Forbes accused state Delegate and former U.S. Navy SEAL, Scott Taylor, of criminal activity for speeding violations and missing a court appearance, including a scheduled hearing when Taylor was deployed with the Navy.[14] Taylor described Forbes as a "coward".[15] On June 14, 2016, Forbes was defeated in the Republican primary by Scott Taylor by a margin of 52.5% to 40.6%, with a third candidate, C. Pat Cardwell IV, receiving 6.8% of the vote. Taylor went on to win the general election on November 8, 2016.[16]

Forbes received $801,606 in campaign financing from donors in the defense industry during his tenure in Congress.[17] The largest donors to Forbes over his Congressional career have been defense contractors serving the U.S. Navy for aviation and ship construction, including Northrup Grumman, BAE Systems, Leidos and Huntington Ingalls.[18]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]


Committee assignments[edit]

Rep. Forbes speaks with Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead before testifying in 2011
Navy commander greets House Armed Services’ Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee Chairman Forbes in 2016


  • Army; Navy/Marine Corps; Coast Guard; Special Operations Force Caucuses
  • Children's Caucus
  • Congressional China Caucus (Founder)
  • Congressional Modeling and Simulation Caucus (Founder)
  • Congressional Prayer Caucus (Founder)[19]
  • Congressional Pro-Life Caucus
  • Diabetes Caucus
  • Historic Preservation Caucus
  • House Republican Israel Caucus
  • Immigration Reform Caucus
  • International Conservation Caucus
  • Internet Caucus
  • Military Retiree-Veterans Caucus
  • Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus
  • NASA Caucus (Founder)
  • Panama Canal Expansion Caucus (Founder)

Political positions[edit]


Congressman Forbes speaks at the US Naval Institute in 2014
Forbes speaks at Hudson Institute's Center for American Seapower in 2015

Forbes was formerly Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee's Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee, which exercises oversight and legislative jurisdiction over the US Navy, US Marine Corps, US Air Force bomber and mobility (e.g., aerial refueling and airlift) assets, Navy Reserve equipment, and maritime programs. Before his appointment to this position in 2013, he was Chairman of the HASC Readiness subcommittee during the 112th Congress.[citation needed]

In 2012, he organized a nationwide listening tour titled "Defending Our Defenders" which was aimed at bringing public awareness to the looming impact of sequestration on national defense. Forbes voted against the measure, which he believes threatens to dismantle the military and lead to massive civilian and military layoffs. Forbes has been a longtime proponent for a substantially expanded U.S. Navy. He is critical of the Navy's current 30 Year Shipbuilding Plan, which he believes fails to adequately invest in the ships needed to meet the service's current minimum force structure requirements. In April 2013, he presented an extended argument for why the U.S. must maintain a robust Navy, in which he criticized the lack of funding that had allowed the Navy to slip below the 300-ship threshold.[citation needed]

In July 2013, Forbes and three colleagues wrote a letter to National Security Advisor Susan Rice, asking the White House to develop an coherent strategy document for its implementation. For his work on behalf of the Armed Services and the men and women who wear the uniform, the Army and Navy have presented their highest civilian awards to the Congressman.[citation needed]

In 2013, Forbes publicly opposed military action in both Libya and Syria.[20] In 2014, he promised to promote President Obama's call for funds for action in Syria.[21]

In 2014, Forbes voted to address cuts imposed by sequestration with a $1.4 billion cut to operations, maintenance, and training funds, rather than mothballing 11 cruisers and three amphibious warships.[22]


Randy joins the U.S. Naval War College as senior distinguished fellow

Forbes’ district is home to 70,000+ veterans, who make up roughly 10% of his constituency. Forbes has been recognized year in and year out by various veteran organizations for his help to bring veterans’ needs to the forefront of public discourse. Forbes was awarded the prestigious AMVETS' Silver Helmet award in 2013,[23] and was named "Legislator of the Year" by Virginia's MOAA (Military Officers Association of America) in 2012.[24] VA claims, healthcare, education, and veteran employment are the major issues which Forbes has focused much of his time in Washington on.


Forbes was founder and chairman of the Congressional China Caucus, which takes special interest in the emergence of China as a political, economic and military actor on both the regional and global stage.[25] As one of Congress’ scholars on Chinese issues, Forbes keynoted a panel discussion at Harvard University in the April 2012 to discuss the implementation of US strategy to China's world power emergence.[26] Congressman Forbes has voiced concern for Chinese military ambition, cyber threats, contaminated exports, and human rights violations. His reputation has come under scrutiny with the recent acquisition of America's largest pork company, Smithfield Foods, by a Chinese competitor – a company headquartered within his district. This $4.7 billion deal is the biggest Chinese acquisition of a U.S. company to date.[27]

Government accountability[edit]

Forbes introduced or cosponsored several pieces of legislation, which aim to hold government more accountable. He is one of only seventeen members of Congress to vote against every federal bailout under both the Bush and Obama administrations.[28][29] Though a staunch supporter of national defense, he has also called for a full audit of both the Department of Defense and Federal Reserve. Furthermore, Forbes has introduced a balanced budget amendment, and CAP Act to tie members of Congress’ salaries to spending. Regarding the revelation that the National Security Agency was possibly abusing intelligence gathering powers provided them under the PATRIOT and FISA acts, although the NSA stand was later deemed legal, the public response to the revelation led Forbes to cosponsor bipartisan legislation which enacts greater accountability and oversight over the agency's intelligence gathering techniques.

Religious freedom[edit]

As Founder since 2005 and Co-Chairman of the bicameral Congressional Prayer Caucus, Congressman Forbes, and co-chairman Senator James Lankford, lead more than 90 Members of Congress in protecting the free exercise of religion as a fundamental human right essential to a free society.[30]

Energy independence[edit]

On June 12, 2008 Forbes introduced H.R. 6260, titled "New Manhattan Project for Energy Independence". The bill was offered as a substitute for the entire energy bill and outlined a series of prizes, similar to the X-PRIZE, which would be awarded to a private entity, which completed one of seven tasks related to achieving energy independence.

The bill included $14 billion in prizes and $10 billion in grants ($10 billion of which would have supported nuclear fusion research); provisions to establish a summit to discuss the challenge of energy independence; and creation of a commission to offer recommendations to fulfill the goal of becoming energy independent within 20 years. On June 26, 2009, the bill was offered as an amendment in the nature of a substitute for the Waxman/Markey-sponsored American Clean Energy and Security Act. The amendment was rejected by the House of Representatives 255–172.[31]

Electoral history[edit]

Virginia's 4th congressional district: Results 2000–2014[32][33][34]
Virginia's 2nd congressional district: Republican Primary Results, 2016
Year Democrat Votes Pct Republican Votes Pct 3rd Party Party Votes Pct
2000 Norman Sisisky ** 189,787 99% (no candidate) Write-ins 2,108 1%
2001 Louise Lucas 65,190 48% J. Randy Forbes 70,917 52%
2002 (no candidate) J. Randy Forbes 108,733 98% Write-ins 2,308 2%
2004 Jonathan R. Menefee 100,413 35% J. Randy Forbes 182,444 64%
2006 (no candidate) J. Randy Forbes 150,967 76% Albert P. Burckard, Jr. Independent Green 46,487 23%
2008 Andrea Miller 135,041 40% J. Randy Forbes 199,075 60%
2010 Wynne LeGrow 74,298 38% J. Randy Forbes 122,659 62%
2012 Ella Ward 150,190 43% J. Randy Forbes 199,292 57%
2014 Elliot Fausz 75,270 38% J. Randy Forbes 120,684 60% Bo Brown Libertarian 4,427 2%
2016 Scott Taylor 21,406 53% J. Randy Forbes 16,552 41% Pat Cardwell Republican 2,773 7%

*Write-in and minor candidate notes: In 2004, write-ins received 170 votes. In 2006, write-ins received 886 votes. In 2008, write-ins received 405 votes. In 2010, write-ins received 432 votes. In 2014, write-ins received 257 votes.

** Sisisky died on March 29, 2001; Forbes won the 2001 special election to fill out the remainder of his term.


  1. ^ "Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus Breakfast Highlights VA Shipyard Jobs | Shipbuilders Council of America". shipbuilders.org. Retrieved 2017-03-07. 
  2. ^ Why So Many National Security Experts Want Randy Forbes as Secretary of the Navy, The National Interest, 2016-11-10
  3. ^ Interview: US Rep. Joe Wilson, Defense News, 2016-12-13
  4. ^ Why there's only one choice for Trump's Navy secretary, The Hill, 2017-1-16
  5. ^ Why Trump, and Asia, need Randy Forbes as US Navy secretary, Asia Times, 2017-1-16
  6. ^ Trump’s Navy Choice: A Secretary who knows Congress would help get to a 350-ship fleet., The Wall Street Journal, 2017-2-28
  7. ^ Randy Forbes Still A Long Shot For Navy Secretary After Bilden’s Withdrawal, Breaking Defense, 2017-3-1
  8. ^ Former Representative Randy Forbes joins Naval War College faculty, U.S. Naval War College, 2017-2-14
  9. ^ "forbes". Freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com. Retrieved 2016-11-22. 
  10. ^ Stamper, Megan (October 12, 2012). "Meet the Candidates: Rep. Randy Forbes". Inside Business. Retrieved April 29, 2016. 
  11. ^ [1] Archived March 7, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ "Virginia election results 2004". The Washington Post. 
  13. ^ "Randy Forbes switching districts in 2016 congressional election". The Virginian-Pilot. 
  14. ^ "Randy Forbes tells half the story about Scott Taylor's court record". @politifact. Retrieved 2017-03-06. 
  15. ^ Times, Military. "gop-backers-defense-budget-hike-got-millions-donations". Military Times. Retrieved 2017-03-06. 
  16. ^ "Scott Taylor defeats veteran Randy Forbes in 2nd Congressional primary thanks to feisty grassroots campaign". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved December 3, 2016. 
  17. ^ Times, Military. "gop-backers-defense-budget-hike-got-millions-donations". Military Times. Retrieved 2017-03-06. 
  18. ^ "Rep. Randy Forbes: Campaign Finance/Money - Top Donors - Representative Career | OpenSecrets". www.opensecrets.org. Retrieved 2017-03-06. 
  19. ^ "Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation". Prayercaucus.com. 1923-08-03. Retrieved 2016-11-22. 
  20. ^ "Forbes Releases Statement Opposing Intervention in Syria - Congressman J. Randy Forbes". Forbes.house.gov. Retrieved 2016-11-22. 
  21. ^ Stevens, Connie (September 15, 2014). "Military Strikes Against ISIS". wvtf.org. Virginia Tech. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  22. ^ Freedberg Jr., Sydney J. "HASC Debates Sequestration's 'Terrible Dilemma': A Ready Force Or A Large One". breakingdefense.com. Breaking Media, Inc. Retrieved May 7, 2014. 
  23. ^ AmVets Honors Virginia Congressman J. Randy Forbes, American Veterans, 8 April 2013
  24. ^ 27th VIRGINIA CONGRESSIONAL APPRECIATION LUNCHEON - 8 MAY 2012, Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), 2012
  25. ^ "About the Caucus". forbes.house.gov. Retrieved 2016-01-22. 
  26. ^ "Forbes to Speak Tomorrow at Harvard on U.S.-China Relations". forbes.house.gov. Retrieved 2016-01-22. 
  27. ^ "Who's behind the Chinese takeover of world's biggest pork producer?". PBS NewsHour. Retrieved 2016-01-22. 
  28. ^ Meet the Candidates: Rep. Randy Forbes, Inside Business, Oct 12, 2012
  29. ^ Rep. Randy Forbes, POLITICO
  30. ^ What happens in Room 219, Washington Times, November 29, 2015
  31. ^ Bartel, Bill (June 27, 2009). "Forbes' GOP alternative to climate bill shot down". The Virginian-Pilot. 
  32. ^ "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved 2008-01-10. 
  33. ^ "VA District 4 - Special Race - Jun 19, 2001". Our Campaigns. Retrieved 2016-11-22. 
  34. ^ "November 2008 Official Results". Virginia State Board of Elections. 

External links[edit]

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
Norman Sisisky
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 4th congressional district

Succeeded by
Donald McEachin