Get a closer look at Ralph Northam, the man who's been voted to lead the Commonwealth of Virginia for the next four years.
On Tuesday, November 7, Virginians elected former Lieutenant Governor and Democratic candidate Ralph Northam over GOP nominee Ed Gillespie, which kept the state in Democratic hands. In case you didn't watch the debates and managed to avoid political propaganda, here are a couple facts about the newest governor.
Born September 13, 1959, Northam has lived in Virginia’s Eastern Shore a majority of his life. He spent his early years attending local public schools, and while many families sent their children to other ones when his school desegregated, his family stayed put. Northam has called his parents' choice to keep him in an integrated school one of the best decisions they could’ve ever made.
Student of Distinction
In high school, he was a member of the basketball team, was voted “Most Likely to Succeed,” and graduated as salutatorian. Later, Northam went on to attend Virginia Military Institute (VMI). There, his peers elected him president of the honor court. He received his degree in biology and then attended Eastern Virginia Medical School, graduating in 1984. He lived in San Antonio to complete his pediatric residency.
Career in the Army
From '84 to '92, Northam served as a medical doctor in the United States Army. As an army doctor, he treated soldiers wounded in Operation Desert Storm. After his eight years of active duty, Northam rose to the rank of major.
Northam met his wife Pam while serving his pediatric residency. They worked at the same hospital during that time. After serving in the military, Northam and his wife decided to settle down, not far from Northam’s childhood home, in Norfolk, Virginia. Most recently, Pam served as the community outreach coordinator at Lynnhaven River NOW, which works with communities and businesses to protect Virginia Beach waterways. They have two children -- a son, Wes, a neurosurgical resident, and a daughter, Aubrey, a recent UVA grad. They also have a black lab named Murphy and a cat named Odysseus.
Loves the Kids
If you haven’t guessed, Northam has a passion for children. After settling his family, he began practicing pediatric neurology at Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters. He created the Children’s Specialty Group, his current medical practice, to provide expert pediatric services. For 18 years, he has volunteered in the Edmarc Hospice for Children in Portsmouth, Virginia, where he cares for terminally ill children.
He first ran for office in 2007 and spent six years in the Virginia State Senate. Northam was elected lieutenant governor in 2013 on a ticket with soon-to-be former Governor Terry McAuliffe. In June, Northam defeated Tom Perriello to win the Democratic primary.
Unique Voting Record
Before he entered politics, he voted for George W. Bush in two elections. Critics found that as a way to discredit his positions. He says he was uninformed and wasn’t interested in politics at the time. Northam is also considered a very moderate member of his party.
What He Cares About
Northam is extremely passionate about healthcare and the rights that every human has to it. He wants to strengthen the state’s economy and public schools. Northam is a strong advocate for gun safety reform and gun violence prevention. He also wants to better the lives of veterans in the state. And of course, he wants to protect the environment and the abundant natural resources that our beautiful state has to offer.
On his campaign website, Ralph Northam decrees that he wants “a Virginia that works for everyone.” Hopefully, he makes good on his promise.