- Also see: Governors and the Presidency: How They Campaign, How They Govern, by Walter Shapiro and Jill Lawrence, a report commissioned by the Center on the American Governor
Of the 76 Americans who have served as President, Vice President or both since the nation was formed, 26 or one-third had been governor of a state. This includes 17 of the 43 presidents (40%) and 15 of the 47 vice presidents (32%).
Over the 57 national elections held to date, governors have captured a total of 55 presidential nominations. Twenty-seven were elected and, with former Governor Romney’s defeat in 2012, 28 have lost. If the four third party candidates are discounted, however, one can say that 53% of the major party nominees who had been governors were victorious.
In all but 12 of the national elections, at least one governor has been on the November ballot as a presidential or vice presidential nominee. Two governors were on the ballot for 18 elections, and three nominated in two elections – 1912 and 1916.
Many other governors who sought the presidency or hoped for the vice presidency were not nominated. Some ran major national campaigns, while others hoped status as their state’s favorite son might lead to victory, and many more launched trial balloons that were little noticed and quickly punctured.
The large field that former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney bested to capture the 2012 Republican presidential nomination included five other present or former governors – Jon Huntsman (UT), Gary Johnson (NM), Tim Pawlenty (MN), Rick Perry (TX), and Buddy Roemer (LA) – as well as intense speculation about at least four others – [Haley Barbour (MS), Jeb Bush (FL), Chris Christie (NJ), and Mike Huckabee (AR)].
The 2016 primary races included even more governors. Eleven current or former governors officially declared themselves candidates – Jeb Bush (R-FL), Lincoln Chafee (D-RI), Chris Christie (R-NJ), Jim Gilmore (R-VA), Mike Huckabee (R-AR), Bobby Jindal (R-LA), John Kasich (R-OH), Martin O’Malley (D-MD), George Pataki (R-NY), Rick Perry (R-TX), and Scott Walker (R-WI). As of March 2016, Kasich was the only current or former governor who remained in the race.
The following sections provide more detailed information on the governors who sought the presidency, vice presidency or both:
- A Table of Governors Nominated for President or Vice President
- Governors Who Became President
- Governors and the 2016 Presidential Race
- Brief Biographies of the Governors Who Became President
- Governors Nominated for President but Defeated
- Governors Running for President: While in Office or Afterward
- Governors Who Became Vice President