The official responsibilities of Virginia's Lieutenant Governor are set forth in Article V of the Constitution of Virginia. According to the Constitution of Virginia, the Lieutenant Governor's official duties are to serve as President of the Senate and preside over the Senate.
The Constitution of Virginia also provides that the Lieutenant Governor is first in the line of succession to Governor. Should the Governor be unable to serve due to death, disqualification or resignation, the Lieutenant Governor shall become Governor.
In addition to these Constitutional responsibilities, the Code of Virginia provides that the Lieutenant Governor shall serve as a member of several other state boards, commissions and councils, including the Board of Trustees of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation and the Center for Rural Virginia; the Board of Directors of the Virginia Economic Development Partnership and the Virginia Tourism Authority; the Virginia Military Advisory Council, the Commonwealth Preparedness Council and the Council on Virginia’s Future.
The Lieutenant Governor is elected as the same time as the Governor, but in Virginia, the Governor and Lieutenant Governor are elected separately, i.e., they do not run as a ticket. Therefore, it is possible to have a Governor and Lieutenant Governor of different political parties.
While the Governor is limited by the Constitution of Virginia to serving only one four year term, there is no limit on the number of terms that can be served by the Lieutenant Governor.
Thirty-eight individuals have served as Virginia's Lieutenant Governor. Virginia's current Lieutenant Governor is William T. Bolling of Hanover County. Lieutenant Governor Bolling was elected on November 8, 2005 and took the oath of office on January 14, 2006. His term of office will end in 2010.
History of the Office of the Lieutenant Governor
The office of Lieutenant Governor can be traced back to the Virginia Council of London. The King appointed the Council which in turn appointed the Lieutenant Governor or deputy.
In 1680 the English crown forbid colonial Governors to be absent from the colonies without leave. Consequently, careful arrangements were made so that the Lieutenant Governor could exercise all the Governor's powers subject to instructions and orders from both the crown and the Governor.
After the Virginia Council of London dissolved, the King appointed the Governor. The Governor would then form a Governor's Council from which a member would be designated deputy to serve as Lieutenant Governor.
These titular Governors were frequently absent for prolonged periods and in some instances the titular Governor never came to Virginia. Consequently, the conduct of Governor was left in the hands of the Lieutenant Governor.
Virginia's first constitution, adopted on July 29, 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.
Under the Constitution of 1830 the size of the Council of State was reduced from eight to three members who were elected by joint vote of both houses of the General Assembly for three years. The senior member of the Council was the Lieutenant Governor.
The members of the Constitutional Convention of 1851 voted to abolish the Council of State and provided for the popular election of the Lieutenant Governor. The Lieutenant Governor had to be 30 years of age, a native citizen of the United States and a resident of Virginia for five years prior to his election. Unlike the Governor, a Lieutenant Governor could stand for reelection in succeeding terms. The popular election was suspended during Reconstruction (1865-1870) when the commanding general of the military district of Virginia named the Lieutenant Governor.
The Constitution of 1869, also known as the Underwood Constitution, granted the Lieutenant Governor a vote in the event of a tie while sitting as President of the Senate. The Underwood Constitution also changed residency requirements for the Lieutenant Governor from a native citizen of the United States to a citizen for ten years and from a Virginia resident for five years to a resident for three years.
The Constitutional Convention of 1902 changed state residency for the Lieutenant Governor back from three to five years, and although no changes were made in the provisions of the office of Lieutenant Governor during the reorganization amendments of 1928, the adoption of the short ballot increased the visibility of the office.
- The Lieutenant Governor, unlike the Governor, can stand for reelection in succeeding terms.
- The Virginia Constitution of 1851 first provided popular election of the Lieutenant Governor.
- During the period of Reconstruction (1865-1870) the commanding general of the military district of Virginia named the Lieutenant Governor.
- Upon the end of Reconstruction (1870), the Lieutenant Governor was again popularly elected.
- In forty-three states and 4 territories the Lieutenant Governor is the first in the line of succession to the Governor. In three states and one territory the secretary of state is first in line, and in four states the president of the senate fills this capacity.
- Since Virginia initiated the popular election of its Lieutenant Governor in 1851, no Governor has died in office.
- Of the 13 colonies, only Massachusetts and Connecticut made the office a permanent part of the government. The office existed in the other colonies on an as needed basis.
- During the Civil War, Virginia had two state governments, one at Richmond, under the Confederate States of America; and the other, first at Wheeling (until West Virginia became a state in 1863) and then at Alexandria, under the United States of America.
- Between 1934 and 1958 the terms of the executive officers expired the day prior to inauguration. Thus, for a twenty-four year period, Virginia was without an executive administration for approximately a half-day each inaugural year. The General Assembly of 1956 remedied this discrepancy, with the voters' later approval of a constitutional amendment to take effect in 1958.
- While serving in the chair as presiding officer of the Senate, the Lieutenant Governor is addressed as Mr. President.
- Under the Constitution of 1869, known as the Underwood Constitution, the Lieutenant Governor was granted a vote in the case of a tie while sitting as President of the Senate.
- During the Constitutional Convention of 1901-1902 Joseph Edward Willard was administered the oath of office of Lieutenant Governor. This is only time an inauguration took place during a constitutional convention.
- Three Lieutenant Governors died in office: Saxon Winston Holt, Lewis Preston Collins II, and Julian Sargeant Reynolds.
- Seven Lieutenant Governors went on to become Governor: James Hoge Tyler; James Price; Mills Edwin Godwin, Jr.; John Nichols Dalton; Charles Robb; Lawrence Douglas Wilder; and Timothy M. Kaine.
- One Lieutenant Governor resigned from office: Elisha W. McComas.
Past Lieutenant Governors
Lieutenant Governors under the Commonwealth, 1852-1865
- Shelton Farrar Leake, from Albemarle County 1852-1856
- Elisha W. McComas, from Cabell County (now WV) 1856-1857
- William Lowther Jackson, from Wood County (now WV) 1857-1860
- Robert Latane Montague, from Middlesex County 1860-1864
- Samuel Price, from Greenbrier County (now WV) 1864-1865
- Daniel Polsley, from Mason County (now WV) 1861-1863
Lieutenant Governors under the Restored Government, 1861-1865
- Daniel Polsley, from Mason County (now WV) 1861-1863
- Leopold Copeland Parker Cowper, from Norfolk County 1863-1865
Lieutenant Governors under the Commonwealth, 1865-2002
- Leopold Copeland Parker Cowper, from Norfolk County 1865-1869
- John Francis Lewis, from Rockingham County 1869-1870
- John Lawrence Marye, Jr., from Spotsylvania County 1870-1874
- Robert Enoch Withers, from Campbell County 1874-1875
- Henry Wirtz Thomas, from Fairfax County 1875-1878
- James Alexander Walker, from Pulaski County 1878-1882
- John Francis Lewis, from Rockingham County 1882-1886
- John Edward "Parson" Massey, from Albemarle County 1886-1890
- James Hoge Tyler, from Pulaski County 1890-1894
(Became Governor in 1898)
- Robert Craig Kent, from Wythe County 1894-1898
- Edward Echols, from the City of Staunton 1898-1902
- Joseph Edward Willard, from Fairfax County 1902-1906
- James Taylor Ellyson, from the City of Richmond 1906-1918
- Benjamin Franklin Buchanan, from Smyth County 1918-1922
- Junius Edgar West, from the City of Suffolk 1922-1930
- James Hubert Price, from the City of Richmond 1930-1938
- Saxon Winston Holt, from the City of Newport News 1938-1940
(Died in office; unexpired term unfilled)
- William Munford Tuck, from South Boston, Halifax County 1942-1946
- Lewis Preston Collins, II, from Smyth County 1946-1952
(Died in office)
- Allie Edward Stokes Stephens, from the Isle of Wight County, 1952-1962
(Filled the unexpired term of Lewis Preston Collins, II)
- Mills Edwin Godwin, Jr., from Nansemond County 1962-1966
(Became Governor 1966)
- Fred Gresham Pollard, from the City of Richmond 1966-1970
- Julian Sargeant Reynolds, from the City of Richmond 1970-1971
(Died in office)
- Henry Evans Howell, Jr., from the City of Norfolk 1971-1974
(Filled the unexpired term of Julian Sargeant Reynolds)
- John Nichols Dalton, from the City of Radford 1974-1978
- Charles Spittal Robb, from Fairfax County 1978-1982
(Became Governor in 1982)
- Richard Joseph Davis, from the City of Portsmouth 1982-1986
- Lawrence Douglas Wilder, from the City of Richmond 1986-1990
(Became Governor in 1990)
- Donald Sternoff Beyer, Jr., from Fairfax County 1990-1998
- John Henry Hager, from the City of Richmond 1998-2002
- Timothy M. Kaine, from the City of Richmond 2002-2006
(Became Governor in 2006)
- William T. Bolling, from Hanover County 2006-Current
Information from the above was compiled from the following sources:
Officers of the Senate of Virginia 1776-1796 by Louis H. Manarin
Virginia's Lieutenant Governors: The Office and the Person by Thomas R. Morris
Sources and Documents of the United States Constitutions, vol. 10
The Constitution of Virginia, Article V: Section 13