Bob McDonnell Biography

Governor (1954–)
Bob McDonnell, a prominent Republican politician, became governor of Virginia in 2010.


Born in 1954, Bob McDonnell attended University of Notre Dame. He graduated in 1976 and spent several years in the military. Retiring from active duty in 1981, McDonnell worked for American Hospital Supply Corporation. He earned a law degree in 1989. The following year, McDonnell won his bid for the state legislature. He later became the state attorney general. In 2009, McDonnell scored another victory, winning the governorship.

Early Life

Born in Pennsylvania, Bob McDonnell moved when he was a child to Virginia, where he has since made his political mark. There, he has been a state representative, an attorney general and, more recently, the state's governor. The deeply religious McDonnell attended Bishop Ireton High School in Alexandria, Virginia. He played football at the Catholic school.

The son of a retired U.S. Air Force officer, McDonnell followed his father's footsteps. He went to University of Notre Dame on an Army ROTC scholarship. After graduating with a degree in management, in 1976, he went into the army and was stationed in Germany for a time. He later worked at Fort Eustis in Newport News, Virginia. While in the service, McDonnell managed to complete a master's degree in business administration from Boston University. He left active duty in 1981, but remained a member of the reserves until 1997, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.

McDonnell spent several years working for American Hospital Supply Corporation, before deciding to pursue a career in politics. In 1985, he enrolled in a master's degree program at the Christian Broadcasting Network University, founded by Evangelist Pat Robertson in 1977. McDonnell added to his workload at the school, now known as Regent University, after it opened a law school. In 1989, he earned both a master's degree and law degree from the university. Soon after graduation, he went to work as a prosecutor in the attorney general's office in Virginia Beach.

Political Career

In 1990, McDonnell made his first run for public office. He won a seat in the state legislature representing the Virginia Beach area. The conservative Republican worked hard during his time in the capital, fighting for welfare reform. He also took a tough stance on crime, lobbying for changes in the state's laws on sexually based offenses and gang activities.

McDonnell focused his attention on the state's justice system in 2005, with a run for state attorney general. In an extremely close race, he eventually triumphed over Democratic opponent Creigh Deeds. As attorney general, McDonnell sought to strengthen penalties for criminals. Among his efforts, he imposed a 25-year mandatory sentence for those convicted in cases of violent sexual assault against children.

In 2009, McDonnell stepped down from his post to run for governor. He won the post easily, securing 59 percent of the vote. One of his top priorities since taking office in 2010 has been education reform. During the race for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, McDonnell seemed to harbor ambitions about moving onto the national political stage. He made appearances with several of the candidates and was even interviewed with fellow governor and presidential hopeful Rick Perry of Texas for The Weekly Standard.

McDonnell has also been airing television ads to promote his record as governor. Some analysts see these ads as an effort to lobby for the vice-presidential spot on the Mitt Romney ticket.

Personal Life

McDonnell has been married to wife Maureen since 1976. The couple has five children together. Their daughter, Jeanine, is a former U.S. Army soldier who served in Iraq.

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