Ralph Northam

Ralph Northam
40th Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
Assumed office
January 11, 2014
Governor Terry McAuliffe
Preceded by Bill Bolling
Member of the Virginia Senate
from the 6th district
In office
January 9, 2008  January 11, 2014
Preceded by Nick Rerras
Succeeded by Lynwood Lewis
Personal details
Born Ralph Shearer Northam
(1959-09-13) September 13, 1959
Nassawadox, Virginia, U.S.
Political party Democratic
Spouse(s) Pam
Children Wes
Alma mater Virginia Military Institute
Eastern Virginia Medical School
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Service/branch  United States Army
Years of service 1984–1992
Rank Major
Unit Medical Corps

Ralph Shearer Northam, MD (born September 13, 1959) is an American physician and politician, currently serving as the 40th Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. On November 5, 2013, Northam became the first Democrat since Tim Kaine in 2001 to be elected Lieutenant Governor of Virginia, defeating the Republican nominee, E.W. Jackson, a conservative African-American activist and minister.

Early life

Northam is the son of Nancy B. Shearer, a nurse, and her husband Wescott B. Northam, a former Commonwealth's Attorney and Circuit Court judge in Accomack County, Virginia, and .[1] He grew up in Onancock, Virginia.

Northam attended Virginia Military Institute, where he was President of the Honor Court, and graduated after four years with the Class of 1981. He went on to Eastern Virginia Medical School, obtaining his M.D. degree in 1984. From 1984 to 1992 he served as a United States Army physician, attaining the rank of major. During his army service, he completed a pediatric residency at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas, followed by a child neurology fellowship at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.. During Operation Desert Storm, he treated evacuated casualties at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany.

In 1992 Northam established a pediatric neurology practice at Children's Hospital of the King's Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia.

Northam currently lives in Norfolk. He has two children, Wes and Aubrey. His brother, Thomas Northam, is the law partner of Virginia State Senate member Lynwood Lewis, who was elected to the State Senate to replace Northam when he resigned his State Senate seat to assume the position of Lieutenant Governor.

Political career

Virginia State Senate

Northam first ran for office in 2007 in the Virginia 6th Senate district, which includes the Eastern Shore of Virginia; Mathews County, on the Middle Peninsula; and parts of the cities of Norfolk and Virginia Beach. He was unopposed for the Democratic nomination. On November 6, 2007, he defeated Nick Rerras, a two-term Republican incumbent, 17,307 votes to 14,499.[2]

He was re-elected in November 2011, defeating Ben Loyola, Jr., a defense contractor, 16,606 votes to 12,622.[3]

In 2009, Northam — a self-described "conservative on fiscal issues and liberal on social issues"[4] — was the subject of an attempt by State Senate Republicans to get him to switch parties.[5] This action would have given Republicans control of the State Senate, but after news of the imminent switch broke on Twitter, Democrats held a closed-door meeting, and Northam reiterated that he was not leaving the party.[6] He later said, "I guess it's nice to be wanted, but I'm a Democrat, and that's where I'm staying."[7]

Northam ran for lieutenant governor as Terry McAuliffe's running mate.

Lieutenant Governor of Virginia

Northam ran for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia in the 2013 election.[8] Northam competed against U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra for the Democratic nomination.[9] On June 11, 2013, Northam won the Democratic primary over Chopra with 54% of the vote to Chopra's 46%.[10][11]

On November 5, 2013, Northam was elected over Republican E.W. Jackson by a 10% margin, receiving 55% of the vote to Jackson's 45%.[12]

In February 2015, just over a year into his term as Lieutenant Governor, Northam confirmed his interest in running for Governor of Virginia in 2017.[13][14]

Electoral history

Virginia State Senate 6th District Election, 2007
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ralph Northam 17,307 54.33
Republican Nick Rerras 14,499 45.52
Write-ins Write-ins 45 0.14
Virginia State Senate 6th District Election, 2011
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ralph Northam (inc.) 16,606 56.75
Republican Ben Loyola, Jr. 12,622 43.13
Write-ins Write-ins 31 0.10
Virginia Lieutenant Governor Democratic Primary Election, 2013
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ralph Northam 78,337 54.24
Democratic Aneesh Chopra 66,098 45.76
Virginia Lieutenant Governor Election, 2013
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Ralph Northam 1,213,155 55.12
Republican E. W. Jackson 980,257 44.54
Write-ins Write-ins 7,472 0.34


  1. "Nancy B. Shearer Wed; Johns Hopkins Graduate is Bride of Wescott Northam". The New York Times. April 29, 1956.
  2. Virginia State Board of Elections; Election Results for 2007; November 6, 2007 Election Results
  3. Virginia State Board of Elections; Election Results for 2011; 2011 November Official Election Results
  4. Kumar, Anita. "Va. Senate Democrats' Edge Little Comfort", Washington Post, February 21, 2009.
  5. Linkins, Jason. "Jeff Frederick's Twitter Use Foils GOP Virginia Senate Coup", Huffington Post, March 13, 2009.
  6. Payne, Kimball. Northam's Move To Share Power Turns Heads, Hampton Roads Daily Press, February 14, 2009.
  7. Walker, Julian (November 19, 2011). "State Sen. Northam spurns GOP offer to switch sides". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved 2013-10-31.
  8. Vozzella, Laura (2012-12-02). "Sen. Ralph Northam announces lieutenant governor bid". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-10-31.
  9. Walker, Julian (April 2, 2013). "McAuliffe named Dem governor nominee, 4 others make ballot". The Virginian-Pilot. Retrieved April 3, 2013.
  10. Pershing, Ben; Whack, Errin (2013-06-11). "Democrats give nod to Northam, Herring in statewide races". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2013-06-12.
  11. Virginia SBE - Democratic Lieutenant Governor primary results
  12. Vozzella, Laura (February 24, 2015). "Ralph Northam confirms he's running to become next Va. governor". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 25, 2015.
  13. Nolan, Jim (February 25, 2015). "Northam exploring run for governor in 2017". Richmond Times-Dispatch. Retrieved March 25, 2015.


External links

Senate of Virginia
Preceded by
Nick Rerras
Member of the Virginia Senate
from the 6th district

Succeeded by
Lynwood Lewis
Political offices
Preceded by
Bill Bolling
Lieutenant Governor of Virginia
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