Charles S. Robb


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(b. Phoenix, Arizona, 26 June 1939)

US; Governor of Virginia 1982–6, US Senator 1989–2001 Born to a family with long-established Virginia roots, Robb's childhood involved much relocation as a result of his father's varying business interests. Following a brief period at Cornell, Robb transferred to the University of Madison at Wisconsin and, after graduating, joined the Marines. As a military aide at the White House, he met and married Lyndon Johnson's daughter Lynda Bird. Thereafter Robb studied law at Virginia and entered politics in 1977 when he ran for Lieutenant Governor of the state. Robb won, despite the Republican sweep of other state offices. In 1981 he was elected Governor, defeating state Attorney-General Marshall Coleman. In office he emphasized education spending and economic development, and promoted blacks and women to state offices.

Robb also managed to improve the unity of the faction-ridden Virginia Democratic Party and acquired further visibility as a co-founder of the conservative Democratic Leadership Council in 1985, becoming its second chairman in 1986.

Virginia law precludes a second consecutive gubernatorial term and Robb returned to law practice following his period of office. The popularity acquired as Governor encouraged him to run for the Senate in 1988. He won easily, breaking the trend of a state which had become increasingly Republican. Although he was sometimes mentioned as a possible presidential candidate, his reputation thereafter declined. In 1994 he faced real re-election difficulties both in the primary and in the three-way race between himself, Republican candidate Oliver North, and Marshall Coleman, who ran as an independent. Some of the difficulties encountered by Robb were political, reflecting opposition to the Clinton administration and to Robb's increasingly erratic stance on policy issues. Others stemmed from allegations of personal impropriety, including drug use and sexual misdemeanours. Although Robb secured a narrow victory, he emerged from the race tarnished and in a much less impressive political position than six years earlier, and he was defeated in his 2000 re-election bid. In 2004, he was, however, appointed by President George W Bush co-chair of the Commission on Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction; he served until 2005.

Subjects: Politics.

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