Virginia: Government, Politics, and Higher Education

Virginia is officially styled a commonwealth. The Virginia constitution was revised extensively in the late 1960s. The legislature (called the general assembly) consists of a house of delegates of 100 members and a senate with 40 members. The governor serves a four-year term and is ineligible for reelection. Mark R. Warner, a Democrat, was elected in 2001; he succeeded James S. Gilmore 3d, a Republican. Warner's lieutenant governor, Democrat Timothy M. Kaine, was elected governor in 2005. Republicans regained the governorship after Robert F. McDonnell was elected in 2009, but Democrat Terry McAuliffe won in 2013, and McAuliffe's lieutenant governor, Democrat Ralph Northam, won in 2017. Virginia sends 11 representatives and 2 senators to the U.S. Congress and has 13 electoral votes. Long a Democratic stronghold, the commonwealth now has highly competitive two-party politics.

Among Virginia's many institutions of higher learning are the College of William and Mary in Virginia, mainly at Williamsburg; George Mason Univ., at Fairfax; Hampton Univ. (formerly Hampton Institute), at Hampton; the Univ. of Mary Washington, at Fredericksburg; Randolph College, at Lynchburg; Randolph-Macon College, at Ashland; Sweet Briar College, at Sweet Briar; the Univ. of Virginia, mainly at Charlottesville; Virginia Commonwealth Univ., at Richmond; Virginia Military Institute and Washington and Lee Univ., at Lexington; Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State Univ., at Blacksburg; and Virginia State Univ., at Petersburg.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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