Current Position: current 41st Lieutenant Governor of Virginia since January 13, 2018.
Justin was elected Lieutenant Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia on November 7, 2017. Justin is only the second African-American in history, and the first in nearly 30 years since the tenure of Governor L. Douglas Wilder, to be elected to statewide office in Virginia. His Inauguration took place on January 13, 2018.
Justin, 39, has been recognized as one of the top young attorneys in the nation and a rising star in American politics. He is a prominent and highly successful lawyer, political figure, philanthropist, and a proud husband, father, and community leader. In 2013, at the age of 34, Justin was awarded the National Bar Association’s “Nation’s Best Advocates Award,” which recognizes 40 top attorneys nationwide under the age of 40. He most recently served as a top commercial and white-collar criminal litigator in the Northern Virginia office of the prestigious law firm, Venable, LLP, which he departed in January 2018 to focus on his duties as Lieutenant Governor during his first General Assembly session.
He previously served as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia in the Major Crimes and Narcotics Unit of the Alexandria Division. During his tenure as a federal prosecutor, he was appointed to serve as the Deputy Coordinator of the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force. Prior to his service as a federal prosecutor, he worked as a litigator at WilmerHale, LLP in Washington, D.C., following his stint as a federal law clerk to United States District Court Judge Gerald Bruce Lee in the Eastern District of Virginia, Alexandria Division.
Justin received a scholarship to attend Columbia Law School where he was selected to be a member of the Columbia Law Review and earned his Juris Doctorate in 2005. He also received a scholarship to attend Duke University where he graduated in 2000 with a degree in Public Policy Studies and was selected as the class graduation speaker for the Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy.
Justin Fairfax was a briefing coordinator for Tipper Gore during the 2000 presidential campaign of Al Gore, in the campaign’s Nashville, Tennessee office. Fairfax was also a staffer for Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, in the senator’s Washington office.
He served on the staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee for two years before attendingColumbia Law School, where he was a member of the Columbia Law Review.Fairfax then served as law clerk to Judge Gerald Bruce Lee of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in 2005. He worked in the Washington office of the law firm WilmerHale before joining the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia in 2010. Fairfax worked for two years as a federal prosecutor in Alexandria, Virginia. He served as deputy coordinator of the Northern Virginia Human Trafficking Task Force during this time.
Fairfax ran for public office for the first time in 2013, seeking the Democratic nomination for state attorney general. He lost to Mark Herring, but surprised party insiders with his strong performance in the primary. Herring defeated Fairfax by about 4,500 votes out of 141,600 cast in a closer-than-expected race. The Washington Post praised both candidates during the primary, but endorsed Fairfax, writing that he had displayed “an agile and impressive command of the issues with a prosecutor’s passion for justice.”
After the race, Fairfax co-chaired the 2014 re-election campaign of Virginia Senator Mark Warner. The following year, he was recruited to work at the law firm of Venable LLP, in the firm’s Tysons, Virginia office.
Lieutenant Governor of Virginia (2018-present)
In 2017, Fairfax ran for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. In the Democratic primaries, he faced Gene Rossi, a federal prosecutor, who had trained Fairfax when they worked together in Alexandria’s Eastern District federal court, and Susan Platt, a political lobbyistand consultant, who had served as chief of staff to Joe Biden in the 1990s (Platt had also run Virginia Senator Chuck Robb’s 1994 re-election campaign and Don Beyer’s unsuccessful 1997 gubernatorial campaign). Citing their unease with Dominion Energy’s planned construction of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline, all three candidates in the Democratic primary pledged to refuse campaign contributions from Dominion Energy, despite the company being the largest contributor to Virginia political campaigns for both Republicans and Democrats. Although early polling showed Platt in the lead, Fairfax significantly outraised both of his opponents and proved victorious in the primary election, carrying about 49% of the vote.
Fairfax then faced Republican nominee Jill Vogel, a state senator from Fauquier County in the general election. Fairfax and Vogel raised comparable amounts of money for their campaigns—$3.9 million and $3.7 million, respectively. A forum between Fairfax and Vogel was held at Piedmont Community College on August 9, 2017 and a debate between the two candidates was held at the University of Richmond on October 5.
Noting that Fairfax had been largely unknown when he ran for Attorney General four years earlier, the Washington Post wrote that Fairfax had transitioned from “party crasher” to “party insider” in the time since, having “methodically done the work necessary to raise his profile and pay dues.” The Washington Post went onto endorse Fairfax in the race, calling him “bright, competent, well-versed” and “the much better choice”.
Fairfax’s opposition to the Atlantic Coast and Mountain Valley pipelines led to him being omitted from a small number of campaign flyers that were distributed by the campaign for Democratic gubernatorial nominee Ralph Northam. These flyers were released at the request of Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), which supports the pipeline – LIUNA had endorsed Northam (and Northam’s running mate for Attorney General, Mark Herring, who was included on the flyer), but not Fairfax. As Fairfax is black, while Northam and Herring are both white, some activists criticized the Northam campaign’s decision to accommodate LIUNA’s request. Fairfax responded to the controversy by saying, “This should not have happened, and it should not happen again, and there needs to be robust investment in making sure that we are communicating with African American voters and we are engaging our base.” The Fairfax campaign later remarked that the Democratic ticket was “working well together”, adding “One piece of literature does not change that.” All houses that received the LIUNA flyers also received standard campaign flyers including Fairfax.
In the final days of the campaign, former Virginia governor Douglas Wilder weighed in on the flyer controversy, saying that Fairfax had not “been dealt a good hand”. Wilder endorsed Fairfax, but never endorsed Northam. As the election drew to a close, Fairfax and Vogel aired attack ads against each other.
Fairfax won the election by 5.5%. He is only the second African-American in Virginia history to be elected to statewide office (the first being Douglas Wilder, who served as governor, as well as lieutenant governor).
The lieutenant governor’s position is part-time; Fairfax initially planned to continue his law practice while in office,but announced in December 2017 that he will be leaving his firm. His law partner at Venable, Larry Roberts, served as his campaign chairman during the election and is currently serving as his chief of staff.
On economic issues, Fairfax supports policies such as a $15 minimum wage, action onstudent loan debt, and more job training and apprenticeships for skilled trades such as electrician, welder, and machine operator. Fairfax supports investment in transportation and infrastructure, and implementation of Governor Terry McAuliffe’s Virginia Clean Power Plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to combat climate change. Fairfax favors promotion of renewable energy such as wind and solar.
Fairfax supports the Affordable Care Act and an expansion of Medicaid to low-income Virginians. He supports caps on campaign contributions.
On social issues, Fairfax supports abortion rights and same-sex marriage. He is supportive of gun control measures such as universal background checks, a ban on high-capacity magazines, and an assault weapons ban. He supports criminal justice reform, and supports former Governor McAuliffe’s restoration of voting rights to felons who have completed probation and parole terms. Fairfax favors additional action to combat theopioid crisis, and supports the decriminalization of the possession of limited amounts of marijuana for personal use.
|Fairfax, Justin (D)Winner||$4,385,516||1,368,261||52.72%|
|Vogel, Jill (R)||$4,801,929||1,224,519||47.18%|
Recent Election Results
|Democratic||Mark R. Herring||73,069||51.6|
|Democratic||Justin E. Fairfax||68,542||48.4|
|Democratic||Justin E. Fairfax||252,226||49.22|
|Democratic||Gene J. Rossi||59,616||11.63|
|Democratic||Susan S. Platt||200,618||39.15|
|Democratic||Justin E. Fairfax||1,368,261||52.72|
|Republican||Jill H. Vogel||1,224,519||47.18|
Justin Fairfax Discusses Why He Wants To Be VA’s Next Lieutenant Governor
Published: June 12, 2017 By Roland S. Martin
The primary election for Lieutenant Governor in Virginia is Tuesday. This seat is particularly important because the Lieutenant Governor runs independently from the Governor, and has the ability to cast the tie-breaking vote in the event of a partisan split in the State Senate.
Justin Fairfax, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia joined Roland Martin on #NewsOneNow to talk about his bid to become the state’s next Lt. Governor.