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Center on the American Governor > On Governors > U.S. Governors > Governors in the 2020 Presidential Election

Governors in the 2020 Presidential Election

White_HouseWith over 20 people having declared their candidacy for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, it is no surprise that both current and former governors are in the group. In fact, the true surprise may be that there are so few of them. The only three Democratic candidates who have gubernatorial experience are: current Governors Jay Inslee of Washington and Steve Bullock of Montana and former Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado. Further, none are considered among the frontrunners. Bullock, in fact, failed to meet the Democratic National Committee’s requirements to qualify for the first debate.

In perhaps the most surprising twist, a different kind of executive experience is just as well represented among the candidates: there are as many sitting mayors in the field as there are governors. Three mayors have declared their candidacy: Pete Buttigieg of South Bend (IN), Bill de Blasio of New York City, and Wayne Messam of Miramar (FL). Messam and de Blasio trail significantly in polls–Messam also did not qualify for the first debate–but Buttigieg has consistently polled ahead of any of the candidates with gubernatorial experience.

On the Republican side, incumbent President Donald Trump is expected to easily win renomination but he does face one declared opponent so far: former Massachusetts Governor William Weld. Weld, who served as governor from 1991-1997, was also involved in the 2016 campaign when he was the vice-presidential nominee on the Libertarian ticket.

Below is a quick look at the 2020 candidates who have gubernatorial experience:


Steve Bullock (D)


Steve Bullock is currently the governor of Montana and chair of the National Governors Association. Bullock was first elected governor in 2012 and reelected in 2016. He won in 2016 win 50.25% of the vote, despite the state’s strong support of Republican Donald Trump in the presidential election; Trump won Montana with over 56% of the vote. Before serving as governor, Bullock served one term as Montana’s attorney general. Bullock cannot run for reelection as governor in 2020 due to term limits. He officially announced his run for president on May 14, 2019.






John Hickenlooper (D)

5th January 2015  WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Thomas Perez meets with Governor John Hickenlooper Jr. (Colorado) to discuss Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. ***Official Department of Labor Photograph*** This official Department of Labor photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal use printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way and may not be used in commercial or political materials, advertisements, emails, products, and/or promotions that in any way suggest approval or endorsement of the Secretary, or the Department of Labor.   Photo Credit: Department of Labor Shawn T Moore

John Hickenlooper served two terms as governor of Colorado. He was first elected in 2010 and reelected in 2014. He was ineligible to run again in 2018 due to term limits. Prior to his time as governor, Hickenlooper was mayor of Denver, Colorado. A former small business owner, Hickenlooper is considered a “moderate” Democrat and has appeared at speaking engagements promoting bipartisanship with John Kasich, the former Republican governor of Ohio. Hickenlooper officially announced his run for president on March 4, 2019. On August 15, 2019, Hickenlooper ended his run for the presidency. He plans to run for U.S. Senate instead.






Jay Inlsee (D)

InsleeJay Inslee is the current governor of the state of Washington. He was first elected governor in 2012, then easily reelected in 2016. Inslee had significant government experience before his two terms as governor. He was a two-term member of the state House of Representatives, then served over 10 years in two different stints as U.S. Representative. Inslee has been an outspoken critic of the Trump administration since Trump’s election. Inslee is eligible to run for a third term as Washington governor in 2020, but announced on March 1, 2020 that he would run for president. On August 21, 2019, Inslee announced that he would end his bid for the presidency and instead turn his attention towards a run for a third term as governor.






William Weld (R)

WeldWilliam (Bill) Weld was first elected governor of Massachusetts in 1990. He was reelected in 1994 in a landslide, winning 71% of the vote. He did not complete this second term, however. Weld resigned from the governorship in July 1997 after President Bill Clinton (D) nominated him to be U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. Weld, however, was never confirmed by the U.S. Senate for the ambassadorship and eventually withdrew his own nomination. In 2005, Weld announced that he would run in the Republican primary for governor of his new home state of New York. Weld withdrew from the race in June 2006 after the Republican State Convention voted to endorse his opponent, Assembly leader John Jaso. In 2016, Weld was the Libertarian Party’s vice-presidential nominee, running on a ticket with former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson. Johnson and Weld won just over 3% of the nationwide vote, the most in Libertarian Party history. On April 15, 2019, Weld announced that he would run for president, this time as a Republican, challenging incumbent President Donald Trump in the party primary.