Chap Petersen

John Chapman "Chap" Petersen (born March 27, 1968, Fairfax, Virginia) is an American politician. A Democrat, he served in the Virginia House of Delegates 2002–06, was elected to the Virginia State Senate in November 2007, and was reelected in 2011. He currently represents the state's 34th district, made up of the city of Fairfax and large parts of Fairfax County.[1]

Chap Petersen
Fairfax City Parade - 2015-07-04 - Chap Petersen - 2.JPG
Member of the Virginia Senate
from the 34th district
Assumed office
January 9, 2008
Preceded byJeannemarie Devolites Davis
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
from the 37th district
In office
January 9, 2002 – January 11, 2006
Preceded byJack Rust
Succeeded byDavid Bulova
Member of the Fairfax, Virginia city council
In office
Personal details
John Chapman Petersen

(1968-03-27) March 27, 1968 (age 52)
Fairfax, Virginia, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Spouse(s)Sharon Kim
ResidenceFairfax, Virginia
Alma materWilliams College (B.A.)
University of Virginia (J.D.)
CommitteesAgriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources; General Laws and Technology; Privileges and Elections; Transportation
Chap Petersen and family during 2015 Fairfax City 4th of July parade.

Early lifeEdit

Petersen graduated from Fairfax High School in 1986. He received a B.A. degree from Williams College in 1990 and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law in 1994, when he began practicing law. He is currently a partner with the law firm of Surovell, Markle, Isaacs & Levy, PLC.[1][2]

Petersen's wife Sharon Kim (born September 10, 1970, Daegu, South Korea), is a practicing attorney; the couple have four children.[2][3]

Political careerEdit

Petersen served on the Fairfax city council 1998–2001. He was elected to two terms in the House of Delegates, both times (2001 and 2003) defeating his predecessor, Republican Jack Rust.[4][5]

In 2005, Petersen ran for Lieutenant Governor of Virginia. He was defeated in the Democratic primary, finishing third with 22% of the vote in a four-way race, behind State Senator Leslie L. Byrne and State Delegate Viola Baskerville, but ahead of State Senator Phil Puckett.[6]

In 2006, Petersen was a senior advisor to Democratic Senate candidate Jim Webb, who defeated incumbent Republican Senator George Allen.

2007 State Senate electionEdit

Petersen announced his candidacy for the 34th district seat in the State Senate, Wednesday, January 3, 2007.[7] He defeated incumbent Republican Jeannemarie Devolites-Davis, wife of Congressman Thomas M. Davis, in the November 2007 election, taking 55% of the vote. The district had been the most Democratic state senate district held by a Republican.[citation needed]

Campaign flyer flapEdit

During the week of October 22, 2007, the Devolites-Davis campaign sent out 60,000 campaign flyers accusing Petersen of not disclosing that his former law firm was working on issues that Petersen voted on while in the House of Delegates. The flyer included a copy of a section of Petersen's Statement of Economic Interest, which he filed while serving in the House. It includes Petersen's home address, telephone number, and the names of his wife and children, which were not redacted.[8][9][10][11][12]

Petersen held a press conference on October 26 in front of Devolites-Davis' headquarters in Fairfax. He said that "words cannot describe the anger I feel" about the flyer, and called it "shocking" that Devolites-Davis would use his personal information in such a manner. Petersen said that advertising his personal information was not in and of itself a problem, but using it in an attack ad went too far. Such tactics, Petersen said, endangered his family. Devolites-Davis said in her own press conference that Petersen himself published the names and pictures of his family, and showed a mailer from the Petersen campaign showing pictures of his children. The mailer identifies the children by name. She claimed the Petersen campaign uploaded a video to YouTube which brought up her daughter's armed robbery conviction of several years ago. According to WUSA, there is no evidence that anyone from the Petersen camp uploaded the video.[8][9][10][11][12]

Political positionsEdit

Gun controlEdit

Petersen has voted multiple times against Castle Doctrine bills.

In January 2011, Petersen voted against Senate Bill 876 (Castle Doctrine) which would have allowed “a lawful occupant use of physical force, including deadly force, against an intruder in his dwelling who has committed an overt act against him, without civil liability.”[13] In February 2011, Petersen was one of eight senators on the Senate Courts of Justice Committee who “passed by indefinitely” House Bill 1573, defeating the bill by an 8 to 4 margin.[14]

In February 2020, Peterson was one of four Democrats in the Virginia State Senate who broke party ranks to defeat an assault weapons ban.[15]

Controversy over voting recordEdit

In mid-October 2007, Devolites-Davis, Petersen's opponent, began running television ads showing a photo of her opponent Chap Petersen with text stating "Supports Increasing the Estate Tax", "Supports a 38 cent gas tax increase", and "Voted for Concealed Weapons on School Property" superimposed. The voiceover attributed these allegations to Petersen's prior votes in the Virginia House of Delegates. Davis's website contains references to past Petersen votes.[16] He responded that he never voted to increase the Virginia estate tax. Petersen co-sponsored bills, including SB 1309, intending to preserve the tax for Virginians in higher income brackets. Petersen also denied ever supporting a 38 cent gas tax increase. He recently explained that he supported the current law which makes it a felony to possess a gun on school grounds, but voted for a bipartisan bill, HB 2535, which gave a limited exception to parents with licensed concealed carry permits who pick up their children at school, for just school driveways. That bill was signed into law in 2005.[citation needed]

Defense of Washington Redskins nameEdit

As controversy has grown over the name of the Washington Redskins, Peterson has become a vocal defender of his local sports team. In 2014, he initiated a "Redskins Pride Caucus" in the Virginia Legislature.[17] Although Petersen's position is unconventional for his political party, he has said that several other Virginia Democrats have privately supported him on this issue.[18] Citing support that he has received from individual Native Americans, Petersen has said, "I get it from all points. And listen - if somebody is offended, I'm not going to deny that that's a sincere feeling. But you can't just take that and scrub out the feelings of 100,000 other people."[18]

When the Daily Show produced an episode that aired September 25, 2014 featuring local Redskins fans confronted by Native Americans, Petersen contacted the producers in an attempt to withdraw the fans' consent to appear. According Petersen, these fans had been misled about the nature of the segment, prior to signing their releases.[19] Although the segment was not pulled, Jon Stewart, host of The Daily Show, acknowledged on air that the fans were upset with the situation.[19]

Petersen has also given legal representation to the Native American Tribal Association, a nation-wide group of Native Americans who are opposed to the removal of Native American mascots.[20][21]


  1. ^ a b "Senator Chap Petersen; Democrat - District 34". Senate of Virginia. Archived from the original on 2009-01-15.
  2. ^ a b "About Chap". Chap Petersen; State Senator; 34th District, Virginia.
  3. ^ "Jean Galloway Ball, P.L.C. - Sharon Kim Petersen". Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-01-22.
  4. ^ "November 6, 2001 General and Special Elections". Virginia State Board of Elections. Archived from the original on March 17, 2008.
  5. ^ "Commonwealth of Virginia; November 4, 2003 General Election". Virginia State Board of Elections. Archived from the original on March 17, 2008.
  6. ^ "Commonwealth of Virginia; June 14, 2005 Primary Election". Virginia State Board of Elections. Archived from the original on 2009-05-02.
  7. ^ Glendenning, Lauren (2007-01-03). "Petersen To Challenge Devolites Davis; Former delegate to seek state senate seat". Fairfax Connection. Archived from the original on 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2009-01-27.
  8. ^ a b Virginia State Senate Race Heats Up Archived December 1, 2007, at the Wayback Machine,; accessed November 13, 2014.
  9. ^ a b Va. State Senate Race Turns Tense,; accessed November 13, 2014.
  10. ^ a b Accusations of Dirty Tactics in VA Senate Race,; accessed November 13, 2014.
  11. ^ a b Personal Accusations Fly In Contentious Va. Senate Race Archived 2007-11-09 at the Wayback Machine,; accessed November 13, 2014.
  12. ^ a b Gardner, Amy (October 27, 2007). "Candidate Cries Foul Over Mailing". The Washington Post.
  13. ^ Norfolk Examiner, January 19, 2011
  14. ^ National Rifle Association, February 15, 2011
  15. ^ Laura Vozzella (February 17, 2020). "Ban on assault weapon sales dies in Va. Senate committee". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 20, 2020.
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-10-26. Retrieved 2007-10-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link) Retrieved 2007-10-16.
  17. ^ Tom Jackman (July 14, 2014). "Va. state Sen. Chap Petersen defends 'Redskins Pride Caucus,' Redskin name". The Washington Post.
  18. ^ a b Petersen, Chap (June 24, 2014). "Chap Petersen Defends Redskins Name". 106.7 The Fan (audio). Interviewed by Grant Paulsen; Danny Rouhier. Washington D.C.: CBS DC. Retrieved February 21, 2017.
  19. ^ a b Ian Shapira (September 26, 2014). "Redskins fans featured on 'Daily Show' tried to revoke consent before segment aired". The Washington Post.
  20. ^ Ryan Laroche (February 4, 2017). "Sen. L'Italien feeling heat over bill to stop use of Native American imagery, logos, nicknames". Tewksbury Town Crier. Retrieved June 13, 2018.
  21. ^ Lizzy Hill (February 18, 2017). "'By request' mascot bill gains legislative momentum amid opposition". Town Crier.


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