Current and former governors often are among the candidates who run – or consider running – for President. In 2012, six governors or former governors actively sought the Republican nomination to run against Barack Obama, the Democratic incumbent: Jon Huntsman (UT), Gary Johnson (NM), Tim Pawlenty (MN), Rick Perry (TX), Buddy Roemer (LA), and the eventual nominee Mitt Romney (MA).
As the 2016 election got underway, eleven governors and former governors entered the race for the Democratic or Republican nominations, but none were able to capture their party’s nomination. One former governor does remain in the race for the presidency, however. Gary Johnson, the former Republican two-term governor of New Mexico (1995-2003) is the Libertarian nominee. Johnson was also the Libertarian nominee in 2012, but this time brought another former governor with him as his running mate: former Massachusetts Governor William Weld.
Governors Who Have Withdrawn or Declared They Will Not Run
Jeb Bush (R) was Governor of Florida from 1999 until 2007. He is the son of former President George H. W. Bush and the brother of former President George W. Bush. On June 15, 20145, Bush officially announced that he would seek the Republican nomination for president. Bush suspended his campaign on February 20, 2016 following the South Carolina primary.
Lincoln Chafee (D) was the Governor of Rhode Island from 2011 until 2015. A former Republican Senator, Chafee was originally elected governor as an Independent; he switched parties once again, this time to the Democratic Party, in 2013. He chose not to run for a second term as governor, but announced on June 3, 2015 that he would seek the 2016 Democratic nomination for the presidency. Chafee withdrew from the race on October 23, 2015
Chris Christie (R) is the current Governor of New Jersey. First elected in 2009 when he defeated Democratic incumbent Jon Corzine, Christie was re-elected to a second term in 2013. He also served as Chairman of the Republican Governors Association in 2013 and 2014. Christie officially announced that he would seek the Republican nomination for the presidency on June 30, 2015. Christie withdrew from the race on February 10, 2016, following the New Hampshire primary.
Jim Gilmore (R) was the Governor of Virginia from 1998 – 2002 and was Chairman of the Republican National Committee from 2001 – 2002. Gilmore briefly ran for president in the 2008 election, announcing his candidacy in April 2007 before ending his campaign three months later. He also ran for Senate in 2009, when he was defeated by fellow former Virginia governor Mark Warner (D). Gilmore officially announced his candidacy in the 2016 presidential election on July 29, 2015 and withdrew on February 17, 2016.
Mike Huckabee (R) was the Governor of Arkansas from 1996 – 2007. He initially ascended to the office after the conviction of Jim Guy Tucker (D) for fraud and was subsequently elected to two full terms. Huckabee previously ran for president in 2008, losing the Republican nomination to John McCain. He chose not to run in 2012, despite speculation that he might enter the race. Huckabee officially declared himself a candidate in the 2016 race on May 5, 2015. Huckabee suspended his campaign on February 1, 2016, following the Iowa caucuses.
Bobby Jindal (R) is the current Governor of Louisiana. A former Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Jindal was first elected Governor in 2007 after an unsuccessful bid in 2003. He was easily re-elected for a second term in 2011. Jindal is the Vice Chairman of the Republican Governors Association and gave the Republican response to the State of the Union speech in 2009. Jindal announced his decision to run for president on June 24, 2015. He suspended his campaign on November 17, 2015.
John Kasich (R) is the current Governor of Ohio. A member of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1983-2001, Kasich first ran for governor in 2010, defeating incumbent Ted Strickland (D). He was easily reelected to a second term in 2014. Kasich officially announced his candidacy on July 21, 2015. Kasich ended his candidacy on May 4, 2016.
Martin O’Malley (D) was the Governor of Maryland from 2007 until 2015. After defeating the incumbent governor, Bob Ehrlich (R) in 2006, O’Malley successfully ran for re-election in 2010, again facing Ehrlich. O’Malley is also the former Mayor of Baltimore and served as Chairman of the Democratic Governors Association from 2010-2011. O’Malley officially announced on May 30, 2015 that he will seek the Democratic nomination for president in 2016. O’Malley suspended his campaign on February 1, 2016 following the Iowa caucuses.
George Pataki (R) was the Governor of New York from 1995 until 2006. He narrowly defeated three-term incumbent Mario Cuomo (D) in the 1994 gubernatorial election, before easily winning reelection in 1998 and 2002. Pataki has not held elective office since leaving the governorship. He has considered presidential runs in the past and on May 28, 2015 officially announced his candidacy for the 2016 election. Pataki announced his withdrawal from the campaign on December 29, 2015.
Rick Perry (R) was the Governor of Texas from 2000 until 2015, taking over for then-Governor George W. Bush when Bush resigned to become President of the United States. Perry was later elected to full terms three times, in 2002, 2006, and 2010. Perry was initially a candidate for the Republican nomination in the 2012 presidential campaign before suspending his campaign in January 2012. On June 4, 2015, Perry announced that he would again be a presidential candidate in the 2016 election. Perry suspended his campaign on September 11, 2015.
Mitt Romney (R) was Governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007. He previously ran for president in 2008 and again in 2012 when he won the Republican nomination before losing to incumbent President Barack Obama (D) in the general election. While Romney reportedly strongly considered running again in 2016, he declared in a conference call with supporters on January 30, 2015 that he would not seek the 2016 nomination.
Scott Walker (R) is the current Governor of Wisconsin. He was first elected governor in 2010 and survived a recall attempt in 2012 after a high profile fight with public employees over collective bargaining rights. He was elected to a second term in 2014. Walker officially announced his candidacy for the 2016 presidential election on July 13, 2015. Walker withdrew from the race on September 21, 2015.