Lee J. Carter
|Member of the Virginia House of Delegates|
from the 50th district
|Assumed office |
January 10, 2018
|Preceded by||Jackson Miller|
|Born||June 2, 1987|
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
|Democratic Socialists of America|
|Committees||Manassas City Democratic Committee|
|Branch/service||United States Marine Corps|
|Years of service||2006–2011|
|Part of a series on|
the United States
Lee Jin Carter (born June 2, 1987) is an American politician who has represented the 50th district in the Virginia House of Delegates since 2018. He defeated Jackson Miller, the Republican House Majority Whip, to win the seat. Born in North Carolina, Carter is a member of the Democratic Party, an IT specialist, and a former Marine. Carter serves on the Finance Committee and the Militia, Police and Public Safety Committee. He was endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), of which he is a member.
Carter was born June 2, 1987, in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. He was a member of the United States Marine Corps (USMC) from 2006 to 2011, having attended the USMC Staff Noncommissioned Officer Academy. During his time in the U.S. Marine Corps, Carter completed tours in the Middle East and the Mediterranean. His unit was also one of the first to respond to the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti.
Carter also worked as an IT specialist before running for office.
Carter was inspired to run for office after receiving a shock while repairing a lighting system in the summer of 2015 and subsequently struggling to receive worker's compensation from Virginia while unable to work. Before choosing to run, he had long identified as "to the left of where the Democratic party [is]" but was further inspired by Bernie Sanders to explore democratic socialism.
Carter ran for the Virginia House of Delegates for the 50th district. He was endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), of which he is a member. His campaign mostly focused on issues such as single-payer healthcare and financial contributions to politicians. Jackson Miller, the incumbent Republican, distributed a mailer campaign that compared Carter to Communist rulers Vladimir Lenin, Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong, an act the Democratic Party of Virginia condemned as fearmongering. Miller called Carter an "anti-jobs candidate" and said his "ideas are so out of the mainstream, and so incredibly expensive." On November 7, 2017, Carter won the race by nine percentage points. He was one of 15 DSA members elected in 2017.
In the general election, Carter defeated Republican Ian Lovejoy, another Manassas city councilman, by 53.3% to 46.5% of the vote. Carter was endorsed by U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, who campaigned with Carter in Manassas the day before the election.
Since taking office, Carter has been an outspoken advocate for workers' rights. In December 2018 he introduced House Bill 1806, which would overturn Virginia's 70-year-old right-to-work law. Of the bill, Carter said, "When workers form a union, everyone in the workplace benefits from higher wages and better conditions [...] Taft–Hartley was created specifically to allow some people to stand opposed to their coworkers' union while still reaping the rewards for free. It was intentionally designed to bankrupt unions, and I'm fighting to end it." While none of his bills has passed to date, he continues to seek to decrease the corporate influence in his state and to increase organized labor power.
During Carter's remarks on a tax bill, fellow Democratic Delegate Mark Keam surreptitiously briefly displayed the hammer and sickle on a laptop behind Carter, an action for which he later apologized; Keam also apologized for violating Rule 57 in regard to the legislative body's decorum ("No member shall in debate use any language or gesture calculated to wound, offend, or insult another member"). Carter dismissed the affair as "clearly [...] a joke, but [...] in very poor taste and rooted in a lack of knowledge about the history of the political left."
Carter has been married and divorced three times. He has a daughter with his second wife. According to Carter, his third wife physically and emotionally abused him, which resulted in police involvement and an emergency protective order. He has also alluded to being abused and raped earlier in his life. In October 2018, to get ahead of any potential attempts at "personal smears", Carter admitted making "homophobic, trans-phobic, sometimes sexist or racially insensitive" comments online as a teenager.
|Virginia House of Delegates, 50th district|
|Nov 7, 2017||General||Lee J. Carter||Democratic||11,366||54.32|
|Jackson H. Miller||Republican||9,518||45.49|
|June 11, 2019||Primary||Lee J. Carter||Democratic||1,441||57.73|
|Nov 5, 2019||General||Lee J. Carter||Democratic||10,693||53.25|
|Ian T. Lovejoy||Republican||9,333||46.48|