Fairfax has never held elective office before. He made his first run for office four years ago, narrowly losing the Democratic nomination for attorney general to Mark Herring.
“I am so grateful for this opportunity,” Fairfax said to hundreds of cheering supporters at a statewide victory party at George Mason University in Fairfax. “We are changing the course of history in this commonwealth.”
The lieutenant governor post is considered a part-time job and receives a salary just above $36,000 a year. While there are few official duties, the lieutenant governor can cast tiebreaking votes in Virginia’s closely divided state Senate.
Fairfax, who served a two-year stint as a federal prosecutor in Alexandria, has long been interested in politics. After graduating from Duke University, he worked as a briefing coordinator for Tipper Gore during her husband Al’s 2000 presidential campaign. He also worked on the staff of then-Sen. John Edwards, a North Carolina Democrat.
During the campaign, Vogel sought to emphasize bipartisanship, highlighting her collegial ties with Democratic senators and her work on nonpartisan issues such as passing legislation to ban child marriage in Virginia. But Fairfax cited her support of president Donald Trump and her willingness to campaign with Prince William County Board of Supervisors Chairman Corey Stewart, who has made divisive issues like preservation of Confederate memorials a key part of his agenda.
In her concession speech in Richmond, Vogel said her campaign “talked about things that actually matter to Virginians and inspire Virginians.” Moving forward, she said they would “not be about division” and continue to be about “solutions.”
Vogel attacked Fairfax’s lack of experience, and once said in a debate that Fairfax was not knowledgeable enough on the issues to talk intelligently about them. Fairfax took offense, accusing Vogel of negative campaign tactics.
As lieutenant governor, Fairfax will automatically become a contender for governor in 2021. Virginia bars governors from seeking reelection, and lieutenant governors often seek to move to the governor’s mansion — seven of the last 10 lieutenant governors in Virginia later won their party’s gubernatorial nomination.
Herring said Tuesday that Democratic victory is an “unmistakable message across Virginia and around the world.” He calls for the rejection of the politics of fear and division.
Herring was a former state senator who represented parts of Loudoun and Fairfax counties. As state senator in 2006, he voted to uphold the ban on same-sex marriage in Virginia, but he had a changed of heart when he became attorney general in 2014 and announced that he would not uphold the ban — something Adams said he should have done. The state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage was declared unconstitutional in 2014.
He said that with the Democratic sweep of the offices of governor and lieutenant governor, they will govern as a team to fulfill the promise of Virginia.