Biography of Governor James “Jim” S. Gilmore, III
Jim Gilmore served as the 68th governor of Virginia from 1998 to 2002. Gilmore gained national prominence during his campaign and governorship by advocating conservative policies that directly addressed the daily concerns of working men and women in every Virginia community.
Gilmore’s legacy of nearly two decades of public service is highlighted by significant policy work on the major issues of taxation, homeland security and by a determined focus to bring people together from different beliefs and backgrounds.
Lifelong Call to Public Service
Born and raised in Richmond, Gilmore first won elected office as a local prosecutor in Henrico County, Virginia in 1987. He then went on to win statewide elected office in 1993 as Attorney General of Virginia. Then-Attorney General Gilmore led a nationwide effort to stop arson against African-American churches. He also took actions to improve consumer protection, cut down on Medicaid fraud and enhance public safety.
In addition to serving as the 68th Governor of Virginia, Gilmore has chaired two prominent Congressional advisory panels: one created to assess the nation’s readiness to combat domestic terrorism, which led to the creation of the National Council on Readiness and Preparedness; the other panel created to study taxation on internet commerce, which the panel opposed.
In December 2009, Gilmore joined the Free Congress Foundation as President and CEO, succeeding the late Paul Weyrich, who founded FCF more than three decades earlier and was the driving force until his death in 2008. Gilmore served as a FCF board member from 2006 until his election by the FCF board to be the organization’s president and CEO.
Improved Education, Technology and Transportation
Guided by his lifelong belief in smaller government, free markets and individual initiative, Gilmore’s gubernatorial administration successfully championed improvements in Virginia’s education and transportation systems and laid the foundation for the state’s leadership as a national technology center. He accomplished these goals while carrying out his signature campaign promise to phase out property taxes paid by Virginians on their cars and trucks and to add 4,000 new teachers to the public school system.
Under his guidance, Virginia created its first cabinet-level position to oversee an aggressive move into technology and developed the nation’s first Internet policy well before the full potential of the web was realized. His economic development policies also led to the creation of than 200,000 jobs during his term.
A Record of Reaching Out
Gilmore’s administration also worked vigorously to break down racial and regional divisions that have plagued Virginia’s past. He viewed this as a critical step to ensure that Virginia was prepared for “the sum of challenges” that he believed the state would face in the 21st century.
Accordingly, his administration engaged the state’s African-American community, organized labor and Democrats, some of who were appointees in his administration. He initiated and signed into law the state’s first Martin Luther King Holiday as a stand-alone commemorative date in Virginia. Gilmore increased funding for two of Virginia’s historically black universities, Norfolk State University and Virginia State University.
Political Candidacies and Private Sector Experience
Gilmore remained active in other public arenas both during and after completing the one term allowed all governors under Virginia law. He chaired the Republican National Committee from 2001 until 2002. Gilmore entered the race for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, but exited that race in the summer of 2007. He won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Virginia the following year, but was defeated by a Democratic opponent that autumn.
In addition to an active political life in local, state and national Republican politics, Gilmore serves on the boards of several major American corporations, has chaired the board of visitors of the U.S. Air Force Academy, and has been partner at a national law firm. He traveled to major regions of the world in his capacity as governor and in private-sector roles and is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Early Career and Private Life
Gilmore enlisted as a volunteer in the U.S. Army after college and worked as a counter-intelligence agent in then-West Germany in the early 1970’s after intensive language training in German, in which he became fluent. He was awarded the Joint Service Commendation Medal for Service to NATO.
As a student, he received his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Virginia. He worked as a grocery store cashier to help pay for his college education.
Married to Roxane Gatling Gilmore with whom he shares two adult sons, Gilmore divides his time between his two Virginia residences in Alexandria and his hometown of Richmond.