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
Assumed office
June 19, 2001
Preceded by Norman Sisisky
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 (1952-02-17) February 17, 1952 (age 64)
Chesapeake, Virginia, U.S.
Political party Republican
Spouse(s) Shirley Forbes
Children 4
Alma mater Randolph-Macon College
University of Virginia
Religion Southern Baptist[1]

James Randy Forbes (born February 17, 1952) is an American politician. A member of the Republican Party, Forbes is the U.S. Representative for Virginia's 4th congressional district, serving since 2001. 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 currently sits as Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee and is a leading voice in Congress on defense and national security related issues.

Early life, education and career[edit]

Born in Chesapeake, Virginia, 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.[2]

Political career[edit]

Forbes served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1989 to 1997 and the Virginia State Senate from 1997 to 2001. Forbes 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%.[3] After the 4th district was reconfigured as part of redistricting,[4] Forbes has since run unopposed by Democrats in 2002 and 2006; in 2004, he faced Jonathan R. Menefee and won with 65% of the vote.[5] 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.

Forbes was Chairman of the Republican Party of Virginia from 1996 to 2001.

On February 8, 2016, Forbes 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 is currently an open seat being vacated by Scott Rigell.[6] On June 14, 2016, Forbes was defeated in the Republican primary for that seat by state Delegate 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.[7]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]


Committee assignments[edit]


  • Army; Navy/Marine Corps; Coast Guard; Special Operations Force Caucuses
  • Children's Caucus
  • Congressional China Caucus
  • Congressional Modeling and Simulation Caucus
  • Congressional Prayer Caucus, founder[8]
  • 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

Political positions[edit]


Randy Forbes is the current 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, Air Force bomber, refueling and lift 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.

In 2012, Forbes 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 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 has also been 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. He would outline his opposition to the shipbuilding plan in an op-ed in Politico.[6] In April 2013, Forbes 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.[7]

Rep. Forbes is a strong supporter of sustained U.S. engagement in the Asia Pacific. 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.[8] 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.

In 2013, Forbes publicly came out against military action in both Libya and Syria.[9] In 2014, Forbes promised to promote President Obama's call for funds for action in Syria.[10]

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.[11]


Congressman 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 AMVET's Silver Helmet award in 2013, and was named "Legislator of the Year" by Virginia's MOAA in 2012. VA claims, healthcare, education, and veteran employment are the major issues which Forbes has focused much of his time in Washington on.


Forbes is 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.[12] 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.[13] 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.[14]


Forbes’ economic policy is driven by the idea that fewer taxes and less regulation will lead to the success of more businesses and the creation of more jobs. Forbes has supported the delay, defunding, and full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, which he has deemed to be one of the biggest job killers in American history. Forbes’ support and efforts have helped bring companies like Sabra, Amazon, Capital One, Rolls Royce, and General Dynamics to southeastern Virginia. His efforts are also responsible for helping keep a carrier in Hampton Roads which threatened a loss of 8,200 jobs, as well as guiding Ft. lee through the latest BRAC which saw the fort expand its role and impact on the local economy. Forbes has been awarded NAM's "Legislative Excellence Award", the NFIB's "Guardian of Small Business" award, and the US Chamber's "Spirit of Enterprise" award for his work to protect businesses and bring jobs to his district.

Government accountability[edit]

Forbes has 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. 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. The revelation that the National Security Agency was abusing intelligence gathering powers provided them under the PATRIOT and FISA acts, Forbes cosponsored bipartisan legislation which enacts greater accountability and oversight over the agency's intelligence gathering techniques.

Religious freedom[edit]

As Founder and Co-Chairman of the bicameral Congressional Prayer Caucus, Congressman Forbes, and co-chairman Senator Lankford, lead more than 90 Members of Congress against efforts to remove religious references from the public square and to promote prayer.

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.[15]

Same-sex marriage[edit]

In 2010, Forbes filed an amicus brief calling for a vote on whether gay and lesbian residents of Washington D.C. should be allowed to marry.[16] Forbes was also a co-sponsor of HR 3829, a bill that would require the federal government to withhold marriage recognition from legally married gay and lesbian couples in certain states.[17][18] Forbes has supported amending the U.S. Constitution to prevent gay and lesbian couples from marrying.[19][20]

In late 2013, Congressman Forbes pressured the House GOP campaign arm to "deny support for some of the party's gay congressional candidates."[21][22] Forbes voted to prevent gay and lesbian service members from serving openly in the military. He also cosponsored HR3828, which would have prevented gay and lesbian service members from marrying on Department of Defense property.[23][24]

Electoral history[edit]

Virginia's 4th congressional district: Results 2000–2014[25][26][27]
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%

*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. ^ Staff (5 January 2011). "Ten Southern Baptists sworn in as new reps.". Baptist Press. Archived from the original on 25 December 2014. Retrieved 25 December 2014. 
  2. ^ Stamper, Megan (12 October 2012). "Meet the Candidates: Rep. Randy Forbes". Inside Business. Retrieved 29 April 2016. 
  3. ^ [1] Archived March 7, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.‹The template Wayback is being considered for merging.› 
  4. ^ Public Interest Guide to Redistricting
  5. ^ "Virginia election results 2004 – washingtonpost.com". The Washington Post. 
  6. ^ "Randy Forbes switching districts in 2016 congressional election". The Virginian-Pilot. 
  7. ^ "Scott Taylor defeats veteran Randy Forbes in 2nd Congressional primary thanks to feisty grassroots campaign". The Virginian-Pilot. 
  8. ^ Congressional Prayer Caucus Foundation
  9. ^ "Forbes Releases Statement Opposing Intervention in Syria."
  10. ^ Stevens, Connie (September 15, 2014). "Military Strikes Against ISIS". wvtf.org. Virginia Tech. Retrieved 2 October 2014. 
  11. ^ Freedberg Jr., Sydney J. (7 May 2014). "HASC Debates Sequestration's 'Terrible Dilemma': A Ready Force Or A Large One". breakingdefense.com. Breaking Media, Inc. Retrieved 7 May 2014. 
  12. ^ "About the Caucus". forbes.house.gov. Retrieved 2016-01-22. 
  13. ^ "Forbes to Speak Tomorrow at Harvard on U.S.-China Relations". forbes.house.gov. Retrieved 2016-01-22. 
  14. ^ "Who's behind the Chinese takeover of world's biggest pork producer?". PBS NewsHour. Retrieved 2016-01-22. 
  15. ^ Bartel, Bill (June 27, 2009). "Forbes' GOP alternative to climate bill shot down". The Virginian-Pilot. 
  16. ^ Craig, Tim (January 6, 2010). "GOP Congress members wade into same-sex marriage debate". The Washington Post. 
  17. ^ https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/3829/text
  18. ^ Johnson, Luke (January 10, 2014). "GOP Congressman Introduces Bill Limiting Recognition Of Gay Marriage". Huffington Post. 
  19. ^ Lerman, David (October 1, 2004). "Schrock Votes To Ban Gay Marriage". Daily Press. 
  20. ^ Lerman, David (March 31, 2004). "Congressmen Face Off On Gay Marriage". Daily Press. 
  21. ^ Wright, Austin (December 4, 2013). "Republicans Tussle Over Gay Candidates". Politico. 
  22. ^ Walsh, Deirdre (December 5, 2013). "Boehner: GOP should support its openly gay candidates". CNN. 
  23. ^ "House Vote 638 – Repeals 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'". New York Times. December 15, 2010. 
  24. ^ http://forbes.house.gov/issues/issue/?IssueID=3335
  25. ^ "Election Statistics". Office of the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Retrieved 2008-01-10. 
  26. ^ Our Campaigns – VA District 4 – Special Race
  27. ^ "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

United States order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Bill Shuster
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Stephen Lynch