Governors and The White House
(Updated January 2013)
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), and Chris Christie (NJ), and Mike Huckabee (AR).
For governors to consider, and be considered for, national office is not unusual. In fact, one of the most common prior experiences among the nation's 43 presidents and 47 vice presidents has been service as a state's governor. Since 14 of the vice presidents later rose to the presidency, this elite group includes a total of only 76 individuals, fully one-third (34%) of whom, or 26 of the 76, had been a governor. Stated another way, 17 of the 43 presidents (40%) and 15 of the 47 vice presidents (32%) were governors.
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 with 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, 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 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 Who Became Vice President
- Governors Nominated for President but Defeated
- Brief Biographies of the Governors Who Became President