Twelve states held gubernatorial elections in 2016: Delaware, Indiana, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia. Five of those races featured incumbents, with four successfully defending their seats: Steve Bullock (D-MT), Kate Brown (D-OR), Gary Herbert (R-UT), and Jay Inslee (D-WA).The fifth, Pat McRory (R-NC) narrowly lost to challenger Roy Cooper (D-NC), the only seat Democrats picked up in 2016.
In the open races, Republicans picked up seats formerly held by Democrats in three states—MO, NH, and VT—and protected seats in IN and ND. Democrats did not pick up any open seats formerly held by Republicans, but did defend seats in DE and WV. As a result, Republicans picked up a net of two seats in this election, expanding their already-historic lead among the nation’s governorships: there are now 33 Republican governors, 16 Democrats, and 1 Independent. This is the most governorships held at one time by either party since 1984, when the Democrats held 34 seats.
|Delaware||Jack Markell (D)||John Carney (D)|
|Indiana||Mike Pence (R)||Eric Holcomb (R)|
|Missouri||Jay Nixon (D)||Eric Greitens (R)|
|Montana||Steve Bullock (D)*||Steve Bullock (D)|
|New Hampshire||Maggie Hassan (D)||Chris Sununu (R)|
|North Carolina||Pat McCrory (R)*||Roy Cooper (D)
|North Dakota||Jack Dalrymple (R)||Doug Burgum (R)|
|Oregon||Kate Brown (D)*||Kate Brown (D)|
|Utah||Gary Herbert (R)*||Gary Herbert (R)|
|Vermont||Peter Shumlin (D)||Phil Scott (R)|
|Washington||Jay Inslee (D)*||Jay Inslee (D)|
|West Virginia||Earl Ray Tomblin (D)||Jim Justice (D)|
*ran for re-election
Only two states—Virginia and New Jersey—will hold gubernatorial elections in 2017. For more information on these races, see below.
Below are some fast facts about the nation’s 50 governors. Click all images to enlarge.
Thanks to Rutgers undergraduate Fatima Naqvi for her help in updating the page which was originally compiled with assistance from former Rutgers student Keith Pakela (class of 2015).
1 Independent (Bill Walker, I-AK)
The Republican Party picked up a net 2 seats in 2016. The 33 governorships currently held by Republicans is the most held by one party since 1984.
Partisan control of government
* Nebraska has a unicameral, non-partisan legislature
In 2017, Four of the nation’s governors are women (Susana Martinez, NM; Mary Fallin, OK; Kate Brown, OR; Gina Raimondo, RI).
For information about all women governors in the nation’s history, please view the Center on American Women and Politics fact sheet on women governors here.
Forty-seven of the nation’s governors are white. There are two Hispanic governors (Susana Martinez, NM; Brian Sandoval, NV) and one Asian governor (David Ige, HI).
There are currently no African-American governors in the United States.
20 Roman Catholic
4 No religion listed*
*Note: Governors who have not declared a specific religious denomination have been categorized as “no religion listed.” This does not necessarily indicate that they are agnostic or atheist.
Eleven governors have served in the Armed Forces, one of whom served overseas during a foreign war (Terry Branstad, IA – Vietnam).
39 No military service
4 Army (Nathan Deal, GA; Terry Branstad, IA; Matt Bevin, KY; John Bel Edwards, LA; Henry McMaster, SC
1 Air Force (Robert Bentley, AL)
2 National Guard (Butch Otter, ID; Gary Herbert, UT)
3 Navy (Rick Scott, FL; Eric Holcomb, IN; Eric Greitens, MO)
(age at first inauguration)
Youngest (current age): 42 (Chris Sununu; born on November 5, 1974)
Oldest (current age): 78 (Jerry Brown, D-CA; born on April 7, 1938)
47 currently married
3 currently divorced and/or single
Average 3.02 children
36 advanced degree
49 Bachelors degree (B.A. or B.S.)
1 Attended college but did not receive degree (Scott Walker, WI)
1 Rhodes Scholar (Gina Raimondo, RI)
1 Medical degree (M.D.) (Robert Bentley, AL)
3 Doctorate (Ph.D.) (Eric Greitens, MO – Development Studies; Tom Wolf, PA – Political Science; Gina
Raimondo, RI – Sociology)
4 Masters degree (MA) (John Carney, DE – Public Administration; John Hickenlooper, CO – Geology; Phil
Bryant, MS – Political Science; Tom Wolf, PA – Philosophy)
7 Masters in Business (MBA) (Bruce Rauner, IL; David Ige, HI; Charlie Baker, MA; Paul LePage, ME; Rick
Snyder, MI; Pete Ricketts, NE; Jim Justice, WV)
23 Law degree (JD)
Previous elected experience
The nation’s governors bring a variety of past professional experiences with them into the office. Two were previously governors and have now returned to the office (Terry Branstad, IA; Jerry Brown, CA). In Jerry Brown’s (CA) case, nearly three decades passed between his terms in the governor’s chair. Many others have served in the legislative branch of state and federal government, as well as in a variety of executive positions.
The number of governors who have served in selected offices is below. For a more extensive look at the prior experience of governors, see the 2017 Governors’ Previous Experience Chart. Some governors are counted in more than one category, as they have served in more than one office.
2 previously served as governor and have returned to office
10 in the lower chamber of their state government
5 in the upper chamber of their state government
9 in the United States House of Representatives
2 in the United States Senate (Kansas and Minnesota)
10 lieutenant governor
7 state attorney general
3 state treasurer
1 state Supreme Court Justice
14 no prior elective office
6 of the 14 previously held non-elected government or political offices (Eric Holcomb, R-IN (Chairman of
the Indiana Republican Party and Chief of Staff to U.S. Senator Dan Coats); Larry Hogan, R-MD
(Secretary of Appointments); Charlie Baker, R-MA (state Secretary of Health and Human Services); Tom
Wolf, D-PA (Secretary of Revenue); Terry McAuliffe, D-VA (Chairman of the Democratic National
Committee); Matt Mead, R-WY (U.S. Attorney)
8 of the 14 did not hold a governmental or political office before becoming governor (Rick Scott, R-FL;
Bruce Rauner, R-IL; Rick Snyder, R-MI; Eric Greitens, R-MO; Pete Ricketts, R-NE; Doug Burgum, R-ND; Jim
Justice, D-WV; Matt Bevin, KY)*
*Note: Ricketts and Bevin previously ran for Senate and Rauner was an adviser to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.
Place of birth
12 not born in the state they now lead
3 born in Pennsylvania (more than any other state: John Hickenlooper, D-CO; John Kasich, R-OH;
Tom Wolf, D-PA)
1 born outside the United States (Kate Brown, D-OR; born in Spain)
Only two states will hold gubernatorial elections in 2017: New Jersey and Virginia. Both will be open races, as neither incumbent–Chris Christie (R-NJ) and Terry McAuliffe (D-VA)–is eligible to run for re-election.
In Virginia, Democrats Lt. Governor Ralph Northam and former Congressman Tom Perriello will face off in the primary for the right to attempt to defend the seat for the party. Meanwhile, political strategist and “establishment Republican” Ed Gillespie is considered the front-runner to win the Republican primary, but he will be challenged by Prince William County Supervisor Corey Stewart, who ran Donald Trump’s Virginia campaign. State Senator Frank Wagner and former Air Force intelligence officer and current businessman and craft brewer Denver Riggleman have also indicated they will seek the nomination.
In New Jersey, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, businessman Joseph Rullo and Nutley Township Commissioner Steve Rogers have officially announced they will seek the nomination. Comedian Joe Piscopo has also indicated interest, but has not made a formal announcement. Piscopo may also consider running as an Independent.
The Democratic side features a number of candidates with one heavy favorite. Businessman and former U.S. Ambassador to Germany Phil Murphy is considered the favorite to win the nomination (and the governorship). His primary challenge will come from Assemblyman John Wisniewski, State Senator Ray Lesniak, and former Undersecretary of the U.S. Treasury Jim Johnson. A number of lower-profile Democrats have also indicated they will run, including activist Bill Brennan, former priest Bob Hoatson, pharmaceutical sales rep Monica Brinson, publisher Lisa McCormick, Tenafly councilman Mark Zinna, and banker Titus Pierce.
While 2017 is a quiet year in gubernatorial races, next year will be much different. Thirty-six states will hold gubernatorial elections in 2018.