Thomas J. Bliley Jr.

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Thomas J. Bliley Jr.
Member of the
U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia
In office
January 3, 1981 – January 3, 2001
Preceded byDavid E. Satterfield III
Succeeded byEric Cantor
Constituency3rd district (1981–93)
7th district (1993–2001)
Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee
In office
January 3, 1995 – January 3, 2001
Preceded byJohn Dingell
Succeeded byBilly Tauzin
69th Mayor of Richmond, Virginia
In office
July 1, 1970 – March 7, 1977
Preceded byPhil Bagley
Succeeded byHenry L. Marsh III
Personal details
Thomas Jerome Bliley Jr.

(1932-01-28) January 28, 1932 (age 87)
Chesterfield County, Virginia
Political partyRepublican (after 1980)
Other political
Democratic (before 1980)
Spouse(s)Mary Virginia Kelley; 2 children
Alma materGeorgetown University (BA)

Thomas Jerome Bliley Jr. (born January 28, 1932) is a United States Republican politician and former U.S. Representative from the state of Virginia.[1]


Bliley was born on January 28, 1932, in Chesterfield County, Virginia. He attended private Catholic schools and graduated in 1948 at the age of 16 from Benedictine High School (Richmond, Virginia).

In 1952, Bliley earned a B.A. in Political Science from Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.. He subsequently served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy from 1952 to 1955. He worked as a funeral director for Joseph W. Bliley Co. Funeral Home, a family business, eventually serving as President.[2]

Bliley, a practicing Roman Catholic, is married to the former Mary Virginia Kelley and is the father of two. He has four grandchildren, a step-grandson, two great-grandsons and one great-granddaughter.[3]

Political career[edit]

In 1968, Bliley was elected vice-mayor of Richmond.[4] He held that post until 1970, when he successfully ran for mayor, a position he held until 1977.[4] Bliley grew up as a conservative Southern Democrat, but became a Republican after his term as mayor.

In 1980, Bliley won the Republican nomination for Congress representing Virginia's 3rd congressional district after 12-year incumbent David Satterfield announced his retirement.[5] He won with 52 percent of the vote, becoming the first Republican to win an undisputed victory in the district since Reconstruction. (In 1890, the House awarded Republican Edmund Waddill the seat after a disputed election.)

The 3rd, however, had been trending Republican for some time at the national level.[6] It had been one of the first areas of Virginia where the old Byrd Democrats started splitting their tickets and voting Republican in presidential elections. As a result, it had not supported a Democrat for president since 1948, and had actually come close to electing a Republican twice in the 1960s, with the Democrats only surviving by less than 1,000 votes.

Bliley would never face another contest anywhere near as close as his first one. He was reelected five times from the 3rd with little difficulty, only facing an independent in 1984 and running completely unopposed in 1988. After the 1990 census, the Democratic-controlled Virginia General Assembly began the process of redistricting the state. It was faced with a Justice Department order to create a majority-black district in order to comply with the Voting Rights Act. The legislature responded by shifting most of Richmond, which by this time had a black majority, into a new, majority-black 3rd district. Bliley's district was renumbered the 7th, and retained most of the whiter and wealthier sections of Richmond, along with several suburbs. Bliley now represented the most Republican district in Virginia, and he was handily reelected to four more terms, retiring in January 2001. Indeed, at the time the 7th was so heavily Republican that after it was redrawn in 1992, Bliley only faced a Democrat once, in 1996.

In 1995, when the Republican Party gained majority control of the Congress,[7] Bliley was elected Chairman of the House Commerce Committee, a position he held for six years. He was a principal author of several important laws including the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act of 1997, the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act and the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999, also known as the "Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act".


  • 1980; Bliley was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives with 52% of the vote, defeating Democrat John A. Mapp, Independent Howard Hearnes Carwile, and Libertarian James B. Turney.
  • 1982; Bliley was re-elected with 59% of the vote, defeating Democrat John A. Waldrop.
  • 1984; Bliley was re-elected with 86% of the vote, defeating Independent Roger L. Coffey.
  • 1986; Bliley was re-elected with 67% of the vote, defeating Democrat Kenneth E. Powell and Independent J. Stephens Hodges.
  • 1988; Bliley was re-elected unopposed.[8]
  • 1990; Bliley was re-elected with 66% of the vote, defeating Democrat Jay Starke and Independent Rose L. Simpson.
  • 1992; Bliley was re-elected with 83% of the vote, defeating Independent Gerald E. Berg.
  • 1994; Bliley was re-elected with 84% of the vote, defeating Independent Berg.
  • 1996; Bliley was re-elected with 75% of the vote, defeating Democrat Roderic H. Slayton and Independent Bradley E. Evans.
  • 1998; Bliley was re-elected with 79% of the vote, defeating Independent Evans.[9]


  1. ^ "Plaintiffs Gain Tobacco Industry Documents". The New York Times. April 7, 1998. p. 23. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  2. ^ "BLILEY, Thomas Jerome, Jr. - Biographical Information". United States Congress. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  3. ^ "Joseph Utter, Step grandson". Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  4. ^ a b "The Collegian — University of Richmond 23 March 2000 — The Collegian Newspaper Archives". Retrieved 2019-01-24.
  5. ^ Frankel, Glenn (14 June 1980). "The Making of a Congressman By Richmond's GOP Kingpins". The Washington Post.
  6. ^ Fischer-Baum, Reuben; Soffen, Kim (9 November 2018). "How Virginia went from blue to red and back again". The Washington Post.
  7. ^ Andrew Glass. "Congress runs into 'Republican Revolution' Nov. 8, 1994". POLITICO. Retrieved 2019-01-24.
  8. ^ AUTORES, VARIOS (1991). The 1988 Presidential Election in the South: Continuity Amidst Change in Southern Party Politics. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 247. ISBN 9780275931452.
  9. ^ "Virginia Elections Database » Thomas Tom J. Bliley, Jr (R)". Virginia Elections Database. Retrieved November 3, 2016.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
David E. Satterfield III
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 3rd congressional district

Succeeded by
Robert C. Scott
Preceded by
George Allen
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 7th congressional district

Succeeded by
Eric Cantor
Political offices
Preceded by
Phil Bagley
Mayor of Richmond, Virginia
Succeeded by
Henry L. Marsh
Preceded by
John Dingell
Chairman of the House Commerce Committee
Succeeded by
Billy Tauzin