Contact: John Weingart
The Next Vice President Will Be… A Former Governor
As Hillary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s running mates take their turn in the campaign spotlight this week, we are reminded of one near-certainty in this most uncertain of presidential cycles: the next vice-president will almost definitely be a past or present governor.
Both major party candidates who will take the stage for the vice presidential debate on Tuesday have gubernatorial experience. Tim Kaine (D) is currently serving in the U.S. Senate, but previously served one term as the governor of Virginia (2006-2010), the maximum allowed under that state’s constitution. Mike Pence (R) is the current governor of Indiana (2013-present). Even if the Libertarian ticket scores an upset in November, the vice-president will still be a former governor: William Weld (L), the former Republican governor of Massachusetts (1991-1997).*
Is this common? Not in recent years, according to the Center on the American Governor, a unit of the Eagleton Institute of Politics at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey.
In fact, since 1920 when Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge was elected as Warren Harding’s running mate, only two sitting or former governors have served as vice-president—Maryland Governor Spiro Agnew (1967-1969), who was elected with Richard Nixon in 1968 and again in 1972, and former governor of New York Nelson Rockefeller (1959-1973) who was appointed to the vice presidency in 1974 and served until January 1977. While a total of sixteen sitting or former governors became vice-presidents, half served before 1864.
Indeed, even the appearance of governors on the vice-presidential line of major party tickets bucks recent trends. From 1980 through 2012, only one major party candidate for president picked a running mate with gubernatorial experience: Senator John McCain (R-AZ) in 2008, with his selection of Alaska Governor (2006-2009) Sarah Palin (R).
Governors Selected To Be Vice President
|Elections of 1789-1864 (75 years)||Elections of 1868-1920 (52 years)||Elections of 1924-2008 (84 years)|
|1796 Thomas Jefferson (VA)||1884 Thomas A. Hendricks (IN)||1968 Spiro Agnew (MD)|
|1804 George Clinton (NY)||1888 Levi P. Morton (NY)||1974 Nelson Rockefeller (NY)|
|1812 Elbridge Gerry (MA)||1900 Theodore Roosevelt (NY)|
|1816 Daniel D. Tompkins (NY)||1912 Thomas R. Marshall|
|1832 Martin Van Buren (NY)||1920 Calvin Coolidge (MA)|
|1840 John Tyler (VA)|
|1860 Hannibal Hamlin (ME)|
|1884 Andrew Johnson (TN)|
Of the 16 governors who became vice-president:
- Five served under a President who had also been a governor:
– George Clinton (NY) served under Thomas Jefferson (VA)
– Daniel Tompkins (NY) served under James Monroe (VA)
– Thomas Hendricks (IN) served under Grover Cleveland (NY)
– Theodore Roosevelt (NY) served under William McKinley (OH)
– Thomas Marshall (IN) served under Woodrow Wilson (NJ).
- Six went on to become president:
– Thomas Jefferson (VA) won election in 1800, and again in 1804
– Martin Van Buren (NY) won election in 1836
– John Tyler ascended (VA) following President William Henry Harrison’s (OH) death in 1841
– Andrew Johnson (TN) ascended following President Abraham Lincoln’s (IL) death in 1865
– Theodore Roosevelt (NY) ascended following President William McKinley’s (OH) death in 1901,
then won election in 1904
– Calvin Coolidge (MA) ascended following President Warren Harding’s (OH) death in 1923,
then won election in 1924.
- Six came from New York, two each from Indiana, Massachusetts and Virginia, and one each from Maine, Maryland and Tennessee:
|New York (6)|
|– George Clinton||1804, 1808|
|– Daniel Tompkins||1816|
|– Martin Van Buren||1832|
|– Levi Morton||1888|
|– Theodore Roosevelt||1900|
|– Nelson Rockefeller||1974 (appointed)|
|– Thomas A. Hendricks||1884|
|– Thomas Marshall||1912|
|– Elbridge Gerry||1812|
|– Calvin Coolidge||1920|
|– Thomas Jefferson||1795|
|– John Tyler||1840|
|– Hannibal Hamlin||1860|
|– Spiro Agnew||1968|
|– Andrew Johnson||1860|
*Green Party candidate Jill Stein’s running mate, Ajami Baraka, is not a past or present governor.