Ben Cline

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Ben Cline
Ben Cline, official portrait, 116th Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 6th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2019
Preceded byBob Goodlatte
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
from the 24th district
In office
November 26, 2002 – December 18, 2018
Preceded byVance Wilkins
Succeeded byRonnie Campbell
Personal details
Benjamin Lee Cline

(1972-02-29) February 29, 1972 (age 47)
Stillwater, Oklahoma, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Rocovich
EducationBates College (BA)
University of Richmond (JD)
WebsiteHouse website

Benjamin Lee Cline (born February 29, 1972) is an American politician serving as the U.S. Representative for Virginia's 6th congressional district since 2019. A member of the Republican Party, he previously served eight terms in the Virginia House of Delegates (2002–2018).

He was first elected to the state House of Delegates in a special election, replacing incumbent Delegate Vance Wilkins who resigned the seat. He represented the 24th district, which consisted of Bath and Rockbridge Counties, the cities of Buena Vista and Lexington, and parts of Amherst and Augusta Counties.[1] In November 2017, Cline announced his candidacy for Congress from Virginia's 6th congressional district in the 2018 election. On May 19, 2018, Cline won the Republican Party nomination for that election on the first ballot at the district convention. He won the election on November 6, 2018.[2] He resigned from the House of Delegates on December 18, 2018.[3]

Early life[edit]

Cline was born in Stillwater, Oklahoma and grew up in Rockbridge County, Virginia. He graduated from Lexington High School in 1990. Cline received his B.A. degree from Bates College in 1994 and his J.D. degree from University of Richmond School of Law in 2007. He served as Chief of Staff for United States Representative Robert "Bob" Goodlatte before running for office. From 2002 to 2007, he was president of NDS Corporation, a Virginia-based company providing sales and marketing assistance to rural Internet and technology businesses. After graduating from law school, he served as an assistant Commonwealth's Attorney for Rockingham County and Harrisonburg until 2013.[4] He currently has a private law practice in Lexington, Virginia. Cline is the son of Philip L. and Julie Cline and husband to Elizabeth Rocovich Cline, with whom he has two children. They live in unincorporated Rockbrige County (with a Lexington address).

Political career[edit]

Cline with Bob Goodlatte in October 2005

Cline started his political career in 2002 by running for the House of Delegates seat left vacant by Vance Wilkins, who resigned due to sexual harassment allegations.[5] Cline won in 2002 with 57.43% of the vote despite Democratic opposition from former Lexington Mayor Mimi Elrod. In 2003, Cline won again with 69.17% of the vote against Independent E.W. Sheffield. In 2005, he won with 62.44% of the vote against Democrat David Cox. Cline ran unopposed in 2007.

Cline and Bob Goodlatte at the Rockbridge Community Festival in August 2008

In 2009, Cline ran against Amherst native and Democrat Jeff Price and won with 70.86% of the vote, taking the Lexington City precinct for the first time since his election in 2002 and also taking every precinct in the 24th House of Delegates district. Cline ran unopposed in both 2011 and 2013.[6] In 2015, Cline won 70.8% of the vote against Democrat Ellen Arthur. In 2017, he won re-election with 72% of the vote against independent candidate John Winfrey.[7]

In November 2017, Cline announced he would run for Congress in Virginia's 6th congressional district in 2018 for the seat being vacated by the retiring incumbent Bob Goodlatte.[8]

Legislative career[edit]

Cline in the House Chamber next to former state Delegate Terrie Suit

Committee assignments[edit]

Currently, Cline serves on the House of Delegates Committees on Commerce and Labor, Courts of Justice, Finance, and chairs the Militia, Police and Public Safety. He also is a member of Commerce and Labor Subcommittee #2, Commerce and Labor Special Subcommittee on Energy, Courts of Justice Subcommittee on Criminal Law, Courts of Justice Subcommittee on Judicial Systems and Finance Subcommittee #2.[9] Cline is also the House co-chair of the Virginia Joint Legislative Conservative Caucus, which is also co-chaired in the Senate of Virginia by Mark Obenshain.[10]


In 2006, Cline patroned HB1125, which created a school sales tax holiday in the Commonwealth, and HB1135, which allowed for members of the military stationed in the Commonwealth to receive in-state tuition in Virginia.[11][12] In 2007, he patroned HB2168, which created the Community College Transfer Grant Program.[13] In 2008, Cline supported the opening of an Amherst branch of Central Virginia Community College and new facilities for the Rockbridge branch of Dabney S. Lancaster Community College. In 2009, Cline patroned, but did not have included in the final state budget, amendments that looked to cut the budget of the Virginia Lottery in half, which would in turn put those fund into the Literary Fund used to fund public schools in Virginia.[14]

Government regulation[edit]

In 2006, Cline passed two bills, HB1130 and HB1131, which changed the administrative setup of the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries.[15][16] In 2009, he passed HB2285, which created a searchable database of Virginia’s agency expenditures.[17] Additionally, Cline went after the Virginia Lottery in 2009 for the allotment of over $1 million of state funds to use the likeness of Howie Mandel and Donald Trump on lottery tickets.[18]

Criminal prosecution[edit]

In 2003, Cline introduced HB2229, which deals with probation for underage alcohol possession.[19] In 2004, he introduced HB1204, which increased penalties for people having multiple offenses pertaining to driving while intoxicated.[20] In 2007, he patroned HB2453, which enhanced penalties for repeated offenders of driving without a license, and HB2459, which increased the penalties for elder abuse.[21][22] In 2008, he passed HB1362, which established a penalty for the misuse of public assets, and HB1363, which increases penalties for trademark counterfeiting.[23][24] In 2009, he patroned HB2441, which requires Virginia Department of Corrections to notify prosecutors of gang affiliation of inmates charged with an offense committed while in prison, and HB2637, which requires fingerprinting of individuals arrested for the violation of a protective order.[25][26]

Public safety[edit]

In 2003, Cline introduced HB2227, which made it a felony to assault retired law enforcement officers, and HB865 in 2010, which imposed the same penalty regarding assault of campus police officers.[27][28] In 2003, he introduced HB2230 & HB 2232 to help local probation officers and pretrial services officers.[29][30] In 2005, he introduced HB1514, which allowed sheriffs' offices and volunteer rescue squads to get reimbursed for the costs of responding to DUI crashes.[31] Cline was named Legislator of the Year by the Virginia Court Clerks' Association in 2011 and by the Virginia Sheriff's Association in 2012.[32]

Cline has also introduced several bills regarding the rights of defendants and inmates. In 2003, he introduced HB2231, which gives greater access for probation officers to juvenile defendants' records so that risk assessments could be more easily prepared.[33] He opposed the closure of the Natural Bridge Juvenile Correctional Center in 2009, which was the last remaining facility solely for nonviolent offenders in the Commonwealth of Virginia at the time of its closing.[34] and introduced HB873 in 2010 to require the Department of Juvenile Justice to keep at least one facility open for non-violent juvenile offenders.[35] In 2012, Cline helped negotiate a compromise between law enforcement and prisoner advocates regarding HB836, which restricted the usage of restraints on pregnant inmates, by supporting the intent of the legislation in the form of a rule change by the Virginia Board of Corrections and won praise locally for his involvement on the issue.[36][37][38] In 2013, Cline helped craft and supported HB2103, which improves parole process for inmates still eligible for parole in Virginia.[39][not in citation given]


Cline "is staunchly anti-abortion."[40] In 2007 and subsequent years, Cline has introduced legislation which requires that information regarding the option of providing anesthesia to the baby be given to women seeking abortions after 20 weeks and required doctors to do so if requested by the mother.[41][42][43]

Interstate 81[edit]

Interstate 81 is the main branch of the Interstate Highway System in the 24th district. In 2005, Cline patroned HB2554, a bill that created the I-81 Safety Task Force, and HJ709, a resolution that encouraged Congress to develop a multistate I-81 initiative.[44][45] In 2006, he patroned HB1581, which created the I-81 Intermodal Rail study.[46]


  1. ^ Virginia House of Delegates; Benjamin L. Cline
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ Ben Cline for Delegate. "Delegate Ben Cline - Biography". Archived from the original on February 12, 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-08.
  5. ^ Fiske, Warren and Christina Nuckols. "Wilkins Calls it Quits One Week After Sexual Harassment Allegations Surfaced". Archived from the original on 2012-10-25. Retrieved 2008-04-23.
  6. ^ "VPAP Candidates Ben Cline". Retrieved 2014-01-23.
  7. ^ 2017 November General
  8. ^ Cynthia Dunbar running for Goodlatte's seat in Congress (WHSV)
  9. ^ Virginia House of Delegates. "Bio for Benjamin L. Cline". Retrieved 2008-04-23.
  10. ^ "Virginia Conservative Caucus". Retrieved 2008-04-23.
  11. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HB1125 > 2006 Session".
  12. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HB1135 > 2006 Session".
  13. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HB2168 > 2007 Session".
  14. ^ "2009 HB1600 480#1h Member Request amendment".
  15. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HB1130 > 2006 Session".
  16. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HB1131 > 2006 Session".
  17. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HB2285 > 2009 Session".
  18. ^ Ben Cline. "DELEGATE CLINE ANNOUNCES THE PASSAGE OF BUDGET TRANSPARENCY BILL". Archived from the original on 2009-06-10. Retrieved 2009-04-24.
  19. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HB2229 > 2003 Session".
  20. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HB1204 > 2004 Session".
  21. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HB2453 > 2007 Session".
  22. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HB2459 > 2007 Session".
  23. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HB1362 > 2008 Session".
  24. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HB1363 > 2008 Session".
  25. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HB2441 > 2009 Session".
  26. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HB2637 > 2009 Session".
  27. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HB2227 > 2003 Session".
  28. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HB865 > 2010 Session".
  29. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HB2230 > 2003 Session".
  30. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HB2232 > 2003 Session".
  31. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HB1514 > 2005 Session".
  32. ^ "Del. Ben Cline receives service award from Virginia Sheriffs' Association".
  33. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HB2231 > 2003 Session".
  34. ^ "Del. Ben Cline says 1,700+ sign petition to keep Natural Bridge Juvenile Correctional Center open". Archived from the original on 2014-02-01. Retrieved 2014-01-24.
  35. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HB873 > 2010 Session".
  36. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HB836 > 2012 Session".
  37. ^ "Virginia prisons board tentatively OKs shackling rules".
  38. ^ "Editorial: Unshackling pregnant inmates". Archived from the original on 2014-01-24. Retrieved 2014-01-24.
  39. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HB2103 > 2103 Session".
  40. ^ Carmen Forman, Ben Cline's 'Day of Tears' abortion mourning resolution advances in General Assembly, Roanoke Times (January 16, 2017).
  41. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HB2456 > 2007 Session".
  42. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HB1556 > 2008 Session".
  43. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HB2634 > 2009 Session".
  44. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HB2554 > 2005 Session".
  45. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HJ709 > 2005 Session".
  46. ^ "LIS > Bill Tracking > HB1581 > 2006 Session".

External links[edit]

Virginia House of Delegates
Preceded by
Vance Wilkins
Member of the Virginia House of Delegates
from the 24th district

Succeeded by
Ronnie Campbell
U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Bob Goodlatte
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Virginia's 6th congressional district

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Gil Cisneros
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
T. J. Cox