Where do Governors come from?

Earlier, I analyzed at the resumes of US Senators before they were elected or appointed to the position. Now it’s time to look at what the Governors were known for before they came into office. It’s a bit of a shame that Schwarzenegger is no longer in office, as there’s no one in a State Capitol with that experience. Let’s look at the obvious qualifications for the Governors of the fifty states and Puerto Rico. The Governors can be divided into several categories, although there is some overlap.

Three Former Governors

In 2010, Former Governors Terry Branstad of Iowa, John Kitchaber of Oregon and Jerry Brown of California were reelected after a long time away from the Governor’s Mansion. Kitchaber had been gone for eight years, Branstad had been gone for twelve and Jerry Brown had been gone for 28 years. His resume had been the most interesting. Between his first election as Governor and his most recent, Jerry Brown had run for the Democratic nomination for President three times and been the party’s candidate for Senate. He had then served as Mayor of Oakland and California Attorney General.

Seven were Next-in-Line in the Order of Succession

If a Senator is unable to finish his/ her term, a special election is held or the new Governor appoints a new Senator, depending on the laws of the state. In contrast, there’s usually an order of succession when it comes to the Governors. In most states, the next in line is the Lieutenant Governor, though there are exceptions. The laws about how Lieutenant Governors are selected also vary. In some states, the Governor chooses the running mate, while in nine states they each run for their respective nomination in primaries, before going on the same ticket.  And sometimes they run for the office separately, which can result in the Governor and Lieutenant Governor coming from different political parties.

Sometimes politicians run for that position, aware that the Governor may not finish his or her term. Jan Brewer ran for Secretary of State of Arizona (the top of the order of succession in that state) aware that several of Napoltiano’s predecessors were unable to serve their term. Rick Perry ran for Lieutenant Governor, well aware that Bush was planning to run for President. I have no interest in doing a piece on where Lieutenant Governors come from. Most were state legislators, although there were a few mayors, as well as minor statewide office holders, along with some business leaders and prosecutors.

As for the other Governors, Earl Ray Tomblin was President of the State Senate, which made him Next in Line in West Virginia, when Joe Manchin was elected to the US Senate. Pat Quinn of Illinois was a Lieutenant Governor who was promoted when Blagojevich was indicted. Dave Heineman of Nebraska was promoted from Lieutenant Governor under better circumstances, when his boss became Bush’s Secretary of Agriculture. Jack Dalrymple of North Dakota became Governor after ten years as Lieutenant Governor, when his boss was elected to the Senate. Gary Herbert of Utah became Governor when John Huntsman was appointed Obama’s Ambassador to China.

Nine Attorney Generals

There’s a joke in politics that AG stands for Aspiring Governor as well as Attorney General. Andrew Cuomo of New York was Attorney General and a former US Cabinet member, as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development during Bill Clinton’s second term.  In addition to him and Jerry Brown, Mike Beebe of Arkansas and Bob McDonnell of Virginia had been one term as Attorney General before becoming Governors.

It took longer for others. Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania had two stints as Attorney General. Jay Nixon of Missouri had served as Attorney General for 16 years, while Christine Gregoire of Washington has served twelve years in the office. Some Governors did other stuff in between their stints as the state’s top lawyer and executive. Steve Beshear of Kentucky was the state’s Attorney General in the early 80s. Brian Sandoval of Nevada was a State Attorney General before he became a District Court Judge.

Four Other Prosecutors

Chris Christie of New Jersey and Matt Mead of Wyoming were former US Attorneys for their states. Susana Martinez of New Mexico was a District Attorney. Deval Patrick worked in the Clinton Administration as Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

Eight held other statewide offices

After his stint as AG, Steve Beshear of Kentucky was also Lieutenant Governor in the Mid-80s.  Jack Markell of Delaware had been State Treasurer. Phil Bryant of Kentucky had served as both Auditor and Lieutenant Governor. Bev Perdue of North Carolina had served two terms as Lieutenant Governor, as had Dennis Daugaard of South Dakota. Prior to his first election as Governor, Terry Branstad of Iowa had served a term as Lieutenant Governor. Jerry Brown had served as California’s Secretary of State before his first election to the Governor’s office in 1974. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma had served three terms as Lieutenant Governor, although she was elected to the Governor’s mansion as a sitting Congresswoman

Six US Representatives and Fortuño

Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii was in his tenth term, and Nathan Deal of Georgia was in his ninth term in the US House when both quit to run for Governor, which isn’t something I’ve seen from any Representatives who went on to become Senators. Bobby Jindal was in his third year in the US House when he was elected Governor, although he has also been the Republican party’s gubernatorial nominee four years earlier, as the former US Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services for Planning and Evaluation.

Butch Otter of Iowa served three terms in the US House. John Kasich of Ohio had served nine terms in the US House, until he ran for President in 2000. He was also a Fox News commentator. Mary Fallin of Oklahoma had served in the US House for two terms, although that followed twelve years as Lieutenant Governor.

Luis Fortuño of Puerto Rico had been the Resident Commissioner, which is essentially the equivalent of Congressman for the territory.

Four came from the Executive Branch of the Unites States

Cuomo, Patrick and Jindal were mentioned earlier. Mitch Daniels of Indiana was Bush’s OMB Director, although he had worked as Chief of Staff for Richard Lugar.

Three Senators

Sam Brownback of Kansas was in his 14th year in the Senate when he ran for Governor. He was the only to do so as a sitting Senator. Mark Dayton of Minnesota has served as one term as Senator from 2001-2007, and opted not to run for reelection, which may have had something to do with the consensus that he was one of the worst members of the Senate. Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island was defeated in his reelection bid. He was elected Governor as an Independent.

Five Mayors and One County Executive

Scott Walker of Wisconsin had been the Executive of Milwaukee County, which has a population greater than that of several states. Two Governors had previously been mayors of the most populated cities of their home states. John Hickenlooper was Mayor of Denver when he was elected Governor of Colorado. Martin O’Malley was Mayor of Baltimore when he was elected Governor of Maryland.

Dan Malloy was Mayor of Stanford, the fourth most populated city in Connecticut, before he became Governor. Bill Haslam of Tennessee had been Mayor of Knoxville, the third most populated city in the state. Paul Lepage of Maine was Mayor of Waterville, population 15,722 as of the 2010 census, before he was elected Governor in a three-way race with under forty percent of the vote. He had also been manager of a discount store chain.

Four were just State Legislators

Governor Robert Bentley of Alabama had been a member of the State House of Representatives. As had Nikki Haley of South Carolina. Peter Shumlin of Vermont had been a State Senator. The first time he was elected Governor, Oregon’s John Kitzhaber had been the President of the State Senate.

Three Businessmen/ Political Outsiders

Rick Scott of Florida was a self-made multimillionaire. Risk Snyder of Michigan was a former Gateway Chariman. John Lynch of New Hampshire had been CEO of Knoll. Inc, as well as President of a business management firm, and Director of Admissions at Harvard Business School.

Not sure how to classify this one

Brian Schweitzer of Montana had been the Democratic Party’s nominee for Senate in 2000., as a ranching/ irrigation businessman given a minor post in the Department of Agriculture. He had worked for seven years as a member of a member of the Montana USDA Farm Service Agency committee.

Aside from the three former Governors, the best resume does seem to belong to Andrew Cuomo. Nikki Haley, Robert Bentley and Paul Lepage seem to have the weakest resumes. Just as the Senate has a preference for members of the US House of Representatives, it seems that there’s a bias for prosecutors and state office-holders when it comes to the Governors mansions.

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About Thomas Mets

I’m a comic book fan, wannabe writer, politics buff and New Yorker. I don’t actually follow baseball. In the Estonian language, “Mets” simply means forest, or lousy sports team. Currently, I’m writing a few comic books about my grandparents’ experiences in Soviet Estonia for Grayhaven comics. You can email me at mistermets@gmail.com
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