Donald Sternoff Beyer Jr. (/ˈb.ər/; born June 20, 1950) is an American businessman, diplomat, and politician serving as the U.S. representative for Virginia’s 8th congressional district since 2015. A member of the Democratic Party, his district is in the heart of Northern Virginia and includes Alexandria, Falls Church, and Arlington.

Beyer has owned automobile dealerships in Virginia and has a long record of involvement in community and philanthropic work. From 1990 to 1998 he served as the 36th lieutenant governor of Virginia during the gubernatorial administrations of Doug Wilder (1990–1994) and George Allen (1994–1998). His party’s nominee for governor of Virginia in 1997, he lost to Republican Jim Gilmore, who was then the Attorney General of Virginia. From 2009 to 2013, he served as United States Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein under President Barack Obama.[1]

In 2014, Beyer announced his candidacy for the U.S. House of Representatives seat for Virginia’s 8th congressional district held by the retiring Jim Moran. Beyer won the 12-candidate Democratic primary in June with 45% of the vote and defeated Republican Micah Edmond, 63% to 33%, in the general election.[2]

Early life and education

Beyer was born in the Free Territory of Trieste, the son of a U.S. Army officer, Donald Sternoff Beyer Sr., and his wife, Nancy McDonald.[3][4] His grandmother Clara Mortenson Beyer was a pioneer in labor economics and workers’ rights, and worked in the United States Department of Labor under Frances Perkins during the New Deal era.[5] His grandfather Otto S. Beyer Jr. was Chairman of the National Mediation Board. The oldest of six children, he was raised in Washington, D.C., where his grandparents lived.

In 1968, he graduated from Gonzaga College High School, where he was salutatorian of his class; in 1972 he graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Williams College, magna cum laude, in economics. Beyer was a Presidential Scholar in 1968 and a National Merit Scholarship winner. He graduated from a winter Outward Bound course at Dartmouth College in January 1971, and attended Wellesley College that year as part of the “12 College Exchange” program.[6][7]

Business career

After college, Beyer began working at the Volvo dealership his father had purchased in 1973. In 1986, he and his brother Michael bought the business from their parents, and as the Beyer Automotive Group, the business expanded to five dealerships, including the Volvo, Land Rover, Kia, Volkswagen, Mazda, and Subaru brands. Beyer sold his share of the dealerships to his brother in 2019. Beyer is a past chairman of the National Volvo Retailer Advisory Board. In 2006, he chaired the American International Automobile Dealers Association.[8]

Beyer served as a member of the board of Demosphere International, Inc., a leading soccer registration software provider.[9] He was also a board member of History Associates, which bills itself as “The Best Company in History.”[10] He has served on the Virginia Board of First Union National Bank, the board of Shenandoah Life Insurance Company, and the board of Lightly Expressed, a fiber optic lighting design and manufacturing firm.

Civic activism

During nearly two decades of community activism, Beyer has taken leadership roles on the boards of many business, philanthropic and public policy organizations, the Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce and the American Cancer Society. He has received numerous awards and honors, including the Grand Award for Highway Safety from the National Safety Federation; the James C. Wheat Jr. Award for Service to Virginians with Disabilities;[11] the Earl Williams Leadership in Technology Award; and the Thomas Jefferson Award for 2012 from American Citizens Abroad.[12]

In 2017, he received the Leaders for Democracy Award from the Project on Middle East Democracy. In April 2017, he received the Community Integration Leadership Award for Community and Public Service from the ENDependence Center of Northern Virginia and the Community Engagement Award from Phillips Programs for Children and Families. In 2021, Beyer received the Excellence in Public Service Award from the Population Association of America.

Beyer chaired the board of the Alexandria Community Trust, Alexandria’s community foundation,[13] and the board of Jobs for Virginia Graduates, the state’s largest high school dropout prevention program.[14] He is a former president of the board of Youth for Tomorrow, Washington Redskins coach Joe Gibbs‘s residential home for troubled adolescent boys and girls.[15] He also served on the board of the DC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.[16] He currently serves on the board of directors of Jobs for America’s Graduates.

In 2022, readers and editors of Arlington Magazine named Beyer “Best Elected Official” as part of the magazine’s annual roundup of favorite restaurants, shops, doctors, summer camps, live bands and more in Arlington County, Virginia.[17]

Political career

One of Beyer’s automotive dealerships in Fairfax County, Virginia

Beyer was the northern Virginia coordinator of the Gerald L. Baliles‘s campaign for governor in 1985. In 1986, Governor Baliles appointed Beyer to the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB), which is responsible for overseeing the Virginia Department of Transportation and allocating highway funding to specific projects. It consists of 17 members, including the Secretary of Transportation, Commonwealth Transportation Commissioner, Director of the Department of Rail and Public Transportation, and 14 citizen members who are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Virginia General Assembly.[citation needed]

Beyer was elected lieutenant governor of Virginia in 1989, defeating Republican state senator Edwina P. Dalton. He was reelected in 1993, defeating Republican Michael Farris 54%-46%, as Republicans George Allen and Jim Gilmore were elected on the same ballot as governor and attorney general, respectively.

Farris’s close connection to conservative leaders such as Jerry Falwell of the Moral Majority, Pat Robertson of the Christian Coalition and Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum, as well as his adherence to the Quiverfull movement,[18][19] stirred deep-seated feelings and led some prominent Virginia Republicans such as U.S. Senator John Warner to support Beyer rather than Farris.[citation needed]

During his tenure as lieutenant governor, Beyer served as president of the Virginia Senate. He chaired the Virginia Economic Recovery Commission, the Virginia Commission on Sexual Assault, the Virginia Commission on Disabilities, the Poverty Commission and was co-founder of the Northern Virginia Technology Council, an outgrowth of the Chamber of Commerce.[20] He was active in promoting high-tech industries and led the fight to eliminate disincentives in the Virginia Tax Code to high-tech research and development.[21]

He is also credited with writing the original welfare reform legislation in Virginia.[22]

Beyer was the Democratic nominee for governor in 1997, losing to Republican Jim Gilmore. He served as Finance Chairman for Mark Warner‘s Political Action Committee, “Forward Together”,[23] and as the National Treasurer for the 2004 presidential campaign of former Vermont Governor Howard Dean.[24] After Dean withdrew from the race, he served as chairman of the John Kerry campaign in Virginia.[25]

Beyer during his tenure as Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein

In 2007–08, Beyer endorsed and campaigned extensively for presidential candidate Barack Obama.[26] He chaired the Mid Atlantic Finance Council of Obama for America campaign[27] and served on the campaign’s National Finance Council.

The Democratic National Committee appointed Beyer to serve at the 2008 DNC Convention on the Credentials Committee.[28]

Following the 2008 election, President-elect Obama asked Beyer to head up the transition team at the Department of Commerce.[29]

Obama nominated Beyer for United States Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein on June 12, 2009.[30] In December 2010, Beyer attracted public attention when it was reported that he had warned the Swiss government against offering asylum to WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange.[31] In March 2013, Beyer received the Thomas Jefferson Award from American Citizens Abroad. The award is presented annually by ACA to recognize State Department members who have rendered outstanding service to Americans overseas. Beyer was recognized for organizing a series of town hall meetings where American citizens overseas could voice concerns and opinions to officials of the State Department. He resigned as ambassador in May 2013.

During the run-up to the 2020 primaries, Beyer endorsed Pete Buttigieg for president. He then endorsed Joe Biden on Super Tuesday.[32]

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Beyer voluntarily quarantined himself and his wife Megan at their home after having been in contact with a friend earlier in the year who contracted the virus. Beyer had not contracted the virus as of July 2020.[33]

In June 2022, after a spate of mass shootings in the U.S., Beyer said he would propose a bill to increase taxes on assault-style guns by 1000%.[34] He told Business Insider, “What it’s intended to do is provide another creative pathway to actually make some sensible gun control happen. We think that a 1,000% fee on assault weapons is just the kind of restrictive measure that creates enough fiscal impact to qualify for reconciliation.”

U.S. House of Representatives

Elections

2014

On January 24, 2014, Beyer announced his candidacy for Virginia’s 8th congressional district to succeed retiring Democratic incumbent Jim Moran.[35] It was his first partisan race since losing the 1997 gubernatorial election. He won the June 10 Democratic primary with 45.7% of the vote.[36]

On November 4, Beyer defeated Republican nominee Micah Edmond and three others in the general election receiving 63.1% of the vote. But he had effectively clinched a seat in Congress in the primary. At the time, the 8th was Virginia’s second-most Democratic district, with a Cook Partisan Voting Index of D+16 (only the 3rd district was more Democratic).

Beyer is a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.[37]

2016

Beyer defeated Republican nominee Charles Hernick, 68.6% to 27.4%.[38]

2018

Beyer defeated Republican nominee Thomas Oh, 76.3% to 23.7%.[39]

2020

Beyer defeated Republican nominee Jeff Jordan, 75.8% to 24.0%.[40]

Tenure

Beyer was a frequent critic of the Trump administration. On April 13, 2017, he was the first lawmaker to call for senior White House adviser and Trump son-in-law Jared Kushner to lose his security clearance after it was revealed that Kushner had omitted numerous contacts with foreign nationals from his security clearance application.[41] In June 2017, Beyer renewed his call, sending a letter signed by more than 50 other House Democrats demanding that the White House immediately revoke Kushner’s clearance, citing national security concerns.[42]

Beyer wrote the Cost of Police Misconduct Act, which proposed to create a publicly accessible federal database over police misconduct allegations and settlements.[43]

Committee assignments

Caucus memberships

Personal life

Beyer and his wife, Megan, have two children, Clara and Grace. He also has two children, Don and Stephanie, from a previous marriage,[50] and two grandchildren.[51]

As of May 2019, according to OpenSecrets.org, Beyer’s net worth was more than $124 million.[52]

References

  1. ^ End of term reflections with U.S. Ambassador Beyer, World Radio Switzerland, May 27, 2013.
  2. ^ “Don Beyer”. Archived from the original on November 29, 2014. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  3. ^ The Virginian-Pilot, September 21, 1997
  4. ^ Schudel, Matt (December 31, 2017). “Don Beyer Sr., Army officer and Northern Virginia auto dealer, dies at 93”. The Washington Post. Archived from the original on September 29, 2019. Retrieved January 1, 2018.
  5. ^ https://livingnewdeal.org/glossary/clara-beyer-c-1892-1990/ The Living New Deal Archives. Clara Beyer (c. 1892-1990).
  6. ^ 12 College Exchange program manual Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Rosenfeld, Megan (January 18, 1990). “Don Beyer, Fresh Off The Lot”. The Washington Post. Archived from the original on February 15, 2020. Retrieved February 15, 2020.
  8. ^ American International Automobile Dealers Association press release, June 1, 2006 Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Demosphere website
  10. ^ “History Associates website”. Historyassociates.com. Archived from the original on July 31, 2020. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  11. ^ “Virginia Board for People with Disabilities Newsletter, August 2001” (PDF). Vaboard.org. May 23, 2009. Archived (PDF) from the original on October 1, 2011. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  12. ^ American Citizens Abroad[dead link], March 4, 2013.
  13. ^ “The Connection Newspapers”. Connectionnewspapers.com. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  14. ^ Jobs for Virginia Graduates website Archived July 13, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  15. ^ Youth for Tomorrow website Archived August 27, 2005, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ “DC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy website”. Teenpregnancydc.org. Archived from the original on October 8, 2007. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  17. ^ “Best of Arlington 2022”. Arlington Magazine. December 13, 2021. Retrieved February 24, 2022.
  18. ^ “Bio for Mr Farris”. Archived from the original on March 20, 2007. Retrieved April 20, 2007.
  19. ^ Farris, Vickie (2002). A Mom Just Like You. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8054-2586-1.
  20. ^ Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, 1990s Archived July 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Virginia Business magazine, July 1997 Archived October 21, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  22. ^ The Virginian-Pilot, February 16, 1995
  23. ^ The Virginian-Pilot, December 7, 2005 Archived August 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  24. ^ RaisingKaine blog, May 3, 2007 Archived April 19, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  25. ^ “More Dean Endorsements”. Burnt Orange Report. January 31, 2005. Archived from the original on May 4, 2013. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  26. ^ WTOP radio news”. WTOP News. April 21, 2007. Archived from the original on October 8, 2007. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  27. ^ “Linked In profile”. LinkedIn. Retrieved July 27, 2013.
  28. ^ Armstrong, Jerome. “Blogger report, 2008”. Mydd.com. Archived from the original on September 26, 2011. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  29. ^ “State Department biography”. State.gov. Archived from the original on October 7, 2011. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  30. ^ Bellantoni, Christina (June 12, 2009). “Big Obama donor picked as envoy to Switzerland”. Washington Times. Archived from the original on June 21, 2010. Retrieved June 12, 2009.
  31. ^ “Der Sonntag – Politiker Wollen Wikileaks-Chef Helfen: Asyl Für Assange!”. Sonntagonline.ch. Archived from the original on August 31, 2011. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  32. ^ “Pete Buttigieg Lands First Endorsement From Member of Congress”. The Associated Press. April 24, 2019. Archived from the original on April 24, 2019. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  33. ^ “Rep. Beyer describes life under self-quarantine”. MSNBC.com. Archived from the original on March 15, 2020. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  34. ^ Vlachou, Marita (June 6, 2022). “House Democrat To Propose 1,000% Tax On Assault-Style Weapons”. HuffPost. Retrieved June 6, 2022.
  35. ^ Emily Cahn (January 24, 2014). “Democrat Don Beyer Will Run to Replace Jim Moran in Virginia”. Roll Call. Archived from the original on January 25, 2014. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  36. ^ “Beyer wins Va. Democratic Primary”. The Washington Post. Associated Press. June 10, 2014. Archived from the original on June 12, 2014. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  37. ^ “Caucus Members”. Congressional Progressive Caucus. Archived from the original on April 27, 2019. Retrieved January 30, 2018.
  38. ^ “Virginia U.S. House 8th District Results: Don Beyer Jr. Wins”. The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 29, 2017. Retrieved May 12, 2017.
  39. ^ “Virginia Election Results: Eighth House District”. Archived from the original on November 6, 2018. Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  40. ^ “2020 November General Official Results”. Virginia Department of Elections. Retrieved March 16, 2021.
  41. ^ Levy, Gabrielle (April 13, 2017). “Dems: Suspend Kushner’s Security Clearance”. U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on November 8, 2020. Retrieved July 26, 2020.
  42. ^ Cheney, Kyle (May 31, 2017). “House Democrats: Revoke Kushner’s security clearance”. POLITICO. Archived from the original on November 19, 2020. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  43. ^ Collins, Sean (December 15, 2020). “A new bill would make all police misconduct allegations and settlements public”. Vox. Retrieved December 20, 2020.
  44. ^ “Members”. New Democrat Coalition. Archived from the original on February 8, 2018. Retrieved February 6, 2018.
  45. ^ “Membership”. Congressional Arts Caucus. Archived from the original on June 12, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  46. ^ “90 Current Climate Solutions Caucus Members”. Citizen´s Climate Lobby. Archived from the original on May 15, 2019. Retrieved October 20, 2018.
  47. ^ “Macedonia Caucus”. United Macedonian Diaspora. August 6, 2012. Archived from the original on May 8, 2018. Retrieved November 21, 2018.
  48. ^ “Members”. U.S. – Japan Caucus. Archived from the original on December 21, 2018. Retrieved December 1, 2018.
  49. ^ “Caucus Members”. Congressional Progressive Caucus. Retrieved March 29, 2021.
  50. ^ “From the Potomac to the Aare” (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on April 25, 2012. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  51. ^ “Belle Haven newsletter” (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on April 26, 2012. Retrieved January 1, 2012.
  52. ^ Evers-Hillstrom, Karl (April 23, 2020). “Majority of lawmakers in 116th Congress are millionaires”. OpenSecrets.org. Retrieved March 23, 2022.

External links

Political offices
Preceded by

Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
1990–1998
Succeeded by

Party political offices
Preceded by

Democratic nominee for Governor of Virginia
1997
Succeeded by

Business positions
Preceded by

Chair of American International Automobile Dealers Association
2006–2007
Succeeded by

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by

United States Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein
2009–2013
Succeeded by

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia’s 8th congressional district

2015–present
Incumbent
Preceded by

Chair of the Joint Economic Committee
2021–present
U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by

United States representatives by seniority
202nd
Succeeded by