Don Beyer

Don Beyer
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 8th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2015
Preceded by Jim Moran
United States Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein
In office
September 8, 2009  May 29, 2013
President Barack Obama
Preceded by Peter Coneway
Succeeded by Jeffrey Cellars (Acting)
36th Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
In office
January 13, 1990  January 17, 1998
Governor Douglas Wilder
George Allen
Preceded by Douglas Wilder
Succeeded by John Hager
Personal details
Born Donald Sternoff Beyer, Jr.
(1950-06-20) June 20, 1950
Trieste, Free Territory of Trieste now Italy
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Megan Carroll
Children 4
Alma mater Williams College
Religion Episcopalianism[1]
Website House website

Donald Sternoff "Don" Beyer, Jr. (born June 20, 1950) is an American businessman, diplomat and Democratic Party politician who has served as the United States Representative for Virginia's 8th congressional district since 2015.

Beyer owns automobile dealerships in Virginia, and has a long record of involvement in community, political and philanthropic work. From 1990 to 1998 he served as the 36th Lieutenant Governor of Virginia during the gubernatorial administrations of Democrat Doug Wilder (1990–1994) and Republican George Allen (1994–1998). His party's nominee for Governor in 1997, he lost to Republican Jim Gilmore, the Attorney General of Virginia. From 2009 to 2013, he served as United States Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein.[2]

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 June 2014 Democratic primary with 45% of the vote, and defeated Republican Micah Edmond 63% to 33% on November 4, 2014.[3]

Early life

Beyer was born in the Free Territory of Trieste, now Trieste, Italy, the son of U.S. Army officer Don Beyer and his wife, Nancy.[4] The oldest of six children, he was raised in Washington, D.C. 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 was 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.[5]

Business career

After college Beyer began working in his father's Volvo dealership. In 1986, Beyer and his brother Michael bought the business from their parents, and as the Beyer Automotive Group, the business expanded to nine dealerships, including the Volvo, Land Rover, Kia, Volkswagen and Subaru brands.

Beyer is a past chairman of the National Volvo Retailer Advisory Board. In 2006, he served as chairman of the American International Automobile Dealers Association.[6]

He served as a member of the board of Demosphere International, Inc., a leading soccer registration software provider.[7] He was also a board member of History Associates, which bills itself as "The Best Company in History."[8] 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 three decades of community activism, he 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;[9] the Earl Williams Leadership in Technology Award; and the Thomas Jefferson Award for 2012 from American Citizens Abroad.[10]

He chaired the board of the Alexandria Community Trust, Alexandria's community foundation,[11] and the board of Jobs for Virginia Graduates, the state's largest high school dropout prevention program.[12] He is past president of the board of Youth for Tomorrow, Washington Redskins' coach Joe Gibbs' residential home for troubled adolescent boys and girls.[13] He also served on the board of the DC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.[14] He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Jobs for America's Graduates.

Political career

Don Beyer

Beyer was the northern Virginia coordinator of the successful Gerald L. Baliles campaign for Governor in 1985. In 1986 Baliles appointed Beyer to the Commonwealth Transportation Board. (The Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) 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.)

Beyer was elected Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in 1989, beating Republican state senator Edwina P. Dalton. He was re-elected in 1993, beating Republican Michael Farris 54-46 percent, 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[15][16] stirred deep-seated feelings about religion and politics. Some argued that these concerns, inflamed by negative ads by Beyer, caused swing voters to throw their support to Beyer.[17] Prominent Virginia Republicans such as U.S. Senator John Warner supported Beyer rather than Farris.

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.[18] He was active in promoting high-tech industries, and lead the fight to eliminate disincentives in the Virginia Tax Code to high-tech research and development.[19]

He is also credited with writing the original welfare reform legislation in Virginia.[20]

Beyer was the Democratic nominee for governor in 1997, losing in the general election to Republican Jim Gilmore. He served as Finance Chairman for Mark Warner's Political Action Committee, "Forward Together"[21] and as the National Treasurer for the 2004 presidential campaign of former Vermont Governor Howard Dean.[22] Following Dean's withdrawal from that race, he served as chairman of the Kerry/Edwards presidential campaign in Virginia.[23]

Beyer as Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein

During 2007–08, he endorsed and campaigned extensively for presidential candidate Barack Obama,.[24] He served as chairman of the Mid Atlantic Finance Council of Obama for America campaign,[25] and served on the campaign's National Finance Council.

He was appointed by the Democratic National Committee to serve at the 2008 DNC Convention on the Credentials Committee.[26]

Following the 2008 election, President-elect Obama asked Beyer to head up the transition team at the Department of Commerce.[27]

Obama nominated Beyer for the post of United States Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein on June 12, 2009.[28] 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.[29] In March 2013 Beyer received the Thomas Jefferson Award from American Citizens Abroad. The award is presented annually by ACA to recognize State Department individuals 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.

U.S. House of Representatives

2014 election

On January 24, 2014, Beyer announced that he was running for Virginia's 8th congressional district in the 2014 elections to succeed retiring Democratic incumbent Jim Moran.[30] It was his first partisan race since losing the 1997 gubernatorial election. He won the June 10 Democratic primary with 45.7 percent of the vote.[31]

For all intents and purposes, however, he had effectively clinched a seat in Congress in the primary. The 8th is the second-most Democratic district in Virginia, with a Cook Partisan Voting Index of D+16 (only the 3rd District is more Democratic).

On November 4, 2014, Beyer faced and defeated Republican nominee Micah Edmond and three others in the general election receiving 63.1% of the votes.

Committee assignments


Beyer and his wife, Megan, have two children, Clara and Grace. In addition, he has two children, Don and Stephanie, from a previous marriage,[32] and two grandchildren, Ava Anne and William Sternoff Kirby.[33]


  2. World Radio Switzerland, May 27, 2013
  4. The Virginian-Pilot, September 21, 1997
  5. 12 College Exchange program manual Archived September 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  6. American International Automobile Dealers Association press release, June 1, 2006 Archived September 28, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  7. Demosphere website
  8. "History Associates website". Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  9. "Virginia Board for People with Disabilities Newsletter, August 2001" (PDF). May 23, 2009. Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  10. American Citizens Abroad, March 4, 2013
  11. "''The Connection Newspapers'', September 7, 2006". Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  12. Jobs for Virginia Graduates website Archived July 13, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
  13. Youth for Tomorrow website Archived August 27, 2005, at the Wayback Machine.
  14. "DC Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy website". Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  15. "Bio for Mr Farris". Retrieved 2007-04-20.
  16. Farris, Vickie (2002). A Mom Just Like You. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8054-2586-1.
  17. Don Beyer, Mike Farris, and the Wizard of Oz; how the election for Lt. Governor of Virginia became a testing ground for the Christian right - Campaigns & Elections Dec-Jan 1993
  18. Fairfax County Chamber of Commerce, 1990s Archived July 8, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  19. Virginia Business magazine, July 1997 Archived October 21, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  20. The Virginian-Pilot, February 16, 1995
  21. The Virginian-Pilot, December 7, 2005
  22. RaisingKaine blog, May 3, 2007 Archived April 19, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  23. "More Dean Endorsements". Burnt Orange Report. January 31, 2005. Retrieved July 29, 2013.
  24. "''WTOP'' radio news, April 21, 2007". Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  25. "Linked In profile". Linked In. Retrieved July 27, 2013.
  26. Armstrong, Jerome. "Blogger report, 2008". Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  27. "State Department biography". Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  28. Bellantoni, Christina (June 12, 2009). "Big Obama donor picked as envoy to Switzerland". Washington Times. Retrieved June 12, 2009.
  29. "Der Sonntag - Politiker Wollen Wikileaks-Chef Helfen: Asyl Für Assange!". Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  30. Emily Cahn (January 24, 2014). "Democrat Don Beyer Will Run to Replace Jim Moran in Virginia". Roll Call. Retrieved January 24, 2014.
  31. Associated Press (June 10, 2014). "Beyer wins Va. Democratic Primary". Retrieved June 11, 2014.
  32. "From the Potomac to the Aare" (PDF). Retrieved September 23, 2011.
  33. Belle Haven newsletter

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