Tim grew up in a middle class family in Kansas City, where his Dad ran a union ironworking shop. It was a small family business, where his Mom was his Dad’s best saleswoman and he and his brothers pitched in to help during summers and on weekends. His parents, Al and Kathy, taught Tim about the value of hard work, being kind, and, most importantly, serving others.
During his time in law school, Tim took a year off to volunteer as a missionary in El Progreso, Honduras. There, he taught kids welding — a skill he’d learned during those weekends and summers in his Dad’s shop. He also got a firsthand look at a system in which the few people at the top had all the power, and everyone else got left behind. This experience cemented Tim’s dedication to fighting for social justice and equality for all — a mission he would go on to share with his wife, Anne Holton.
“Anne is the daughter of Virginia Governor Linwood Holton and his wife Jinks. The family integrated Virginia’s public schools and modeled how important it was by sending his kids in to lead the way. When Anne went off to college, she brought with her the lessons borne of that experience. And one day, in a study group, she met this goofy guy who had been off teaching kids in Honduras. Anne and I have now been married for more than three decades, and I am the luckiest husband in the world.”
After law school, Tim and Anne moved to Richmond. They started a family, joined their church, and made a home together with their three children. (Fun fact: They still live in the same house they bought together more than 25 years ago.) Tim worked as a civil rights lawyer, representing people who were discriminated against by banks and landlords, real estate firms and local governments, anyone who treated people unfairly. His work often landed him in City Council meetings, where he raised the issues he was dealing with on behalf of his clients, and after 10 years working as a civil rights lawyer, Tim decided to run for City Council himself. He knocked on every door in his district — and won by just 97 votes.
Tim later became the Mayor of Richmond, where he focused on bringing people together. The New York Times called Tim “instrumental in bridging the city’s racial divide.” He went on to serve as the 70th Governor of Virginia, a job where he steered the Commonwealth through the country’s worst recession in 70 years, leading the state to national acclaim: Under Tim’s leadership, Virginia won recognition for its business climate, innovative management and successful strategies for family and children success.
“In this country, if you work hard, do your part, and treat people right, you should be able to earn a good living — you should be able to give your kids better than you had. That’s how it’s supposed to work in the greatest country in the world.”
In the Senate, Tim has kept up his fight to move Virginia forward. He’s passed legislation to reduce veterans' unemployment, fund childhood cancer research, protect open space, provide better tools to deal with campus sexual assault, expand career and technical education, and finally obtain federal recognition for Virginia Indian tribes. And he’s championed equality for women, expanding health care access, common sense gun safety rules, fighting climate change, and criminal justice reform. He reaches across the aisle to find common ground whenever he can, but never hesitates to stand up against efforts to divide us.
Tim’s Other Passions
Tim loves his three cool adult kids (a Marine, a child care worker, and an actress), baseball, camping, his local parish, and reading everything he can get his hands on. He's also obsessed with both listening to and playing music. If he’s in the car, he’s blasting old tunes. If he's at a show, you may even catch him on stage, sitting in with the band playing harmonica. Some of his favorites are The Replacements (“They’re a great story of people who had a creative synergy where the whole was greater than the sum of the parts”), Charlie Parker (“He was like, ‘This is the way I hear it, this is the way I'm gonna play it, whether you like it or not.’”), and the Carter Family (“They really sparked my fascination with mountain and bluegrass music.”).