Fast Facts About America’s Governors
Last year was a busy one for gubernatorial elections; 36 states held elections for governor in 2022. In a majority of those states, however, the governor did not change. Twenty-eight governors ran for reelection in 2022 and 27 of them won. As a result, there are only nine new governors as we enter 2023.
Even nine new governors, however, can change the overall demographics significantly. There are now a record number of women serving as U.S. governor, for example, and Wes Moore (D-MD) became the third Black man in U.S. history to be elected state governor. The party balance also shifted. Democrats flipped three gubernatorial seats (AZ, MA, and MD) and Republicans flipped one (NV). As a result, Republicans still hold a majority of U.S. governorships, but the spread has been reduced to 26-24.
Below are some fast facts about the nation’s 50 governors.
The Democratic Party picked up three seats in the 2022 elections, in Arizona, Massachusetts, and Maryland, while the Republican Party flipped the seat in Nevada. As a result, Democrats picked up a net +2 seats. There are currently no Independent or third party governors in the U.S.
Partisan Control of Government
| * Nebraska has a unicameral, legally non-partisan legislature
** In Alaska, Republicans have a majority in the House of Representatives, but a coalition of Democrats, Independents, and Republicans have gained effective control
Coming into the 2022 election cycle, nine women served as governors of U.S. states, tying a pre-existing record. Eight of those governors–Kay Ivey (AL); Kim Reynolds (IA); Laura Kelly (KS); Janet Mills (ME); Gretchen Whitmer (MI); Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM); Kathy Hochul (NY); and Kristi Noem (SD)–successfully ran for reelection, while Kate Brown (OR) was term-limited. In addition, four women–Katie Hobbs (AZ); Sarah Huckabee Sanders (AR); Maura Healey (MA); and Tina Kotek (OR)–won first terms as governor in 2022. As a result, a record 12 women now serve as governors of U.S. states. Eight are Democrats (Hobbs, Kelly, Healey, Mills, Whitmer, Lujan Grisham, Hochul, and Kotek) and four are Republicans (Ivey, Huckabee Sanders, Reynolds, and Noem). Healey and Kotek are also the first openly lesbian governors in U.S. history. 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-six of the nation’s governors are non-Hispanic white. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) is Hispanic–the first Democratic Hispanic woman to be elected governor in U.S. history. Kevin Stitt (R-OK) is a member of the Cherokee Nation and Chris Sununu’s (R-NH) father was born in Cuba.* In 2022, Wes Moore (D-MD) became the third Black man elected governor in U.S. history and is now the only currently serving Black governor.
*Sununu’s family background is Lebanese; his paternal grandmother was born and raised in El Salvador to a Greek Orthodox Lebanese family. His father (former New Hampshire Governor John H. Sununu) was born in Cuba and speaks fluent Spanish and his brother (former U.S. Senator John E. Sununu) was a founding member of the Congressional Hispanic Conference.
8 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.
Eight governors have served in the Armed Forces.
42 No military service
5 Army (John Bel Edwards, LA; Wes Moore, MD; Mike Parson, MO; Joe Lombardo, NV; Henry McMaster, SC (Army Reserve))
1 National Guard (Tim Walz, MN)
2 Navy (Ron DeSantis, FL; Eric Holcomb, IN)
(age at most recent inauguration/swearing in)
Youngest (current age): 40 (Sarah Huckabee Sanders, R-AR; born on August 13, 1982)
Oldest (current age): 78 (Kay Ivey, R-AL; born on October 15, 1944)
45 currently married
5 not currently married
4 have no children
2 have 1 child
18 have 2 children
13 have 3 children
9 have 4 children
2 have 5 children
1 has 6 children
1 has 8 children
Average 2.76 children
33 Advanced degree
49 Bachelors degree
1 Attended college but did not receive degree (Mike Parson, MO)
1 Doctorate (Ph.D.) (Tony Evers, WI – Educational Administration)
1 Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (Scott Pillen, NE)
11 Masters degree (MA/MS) (Mike Dunleavey, AK – Education; Katie Hobbs, AZ – Social Work; John Carney, DE – Public Administration; Laura Kelly, KS – Therapeutic Recreation; Wes Moore, MD – International Relations (Rhodes Scholar); Tim Walz, MN – Education; Greg Gianforte, MT – Computer Science; Joe Lombardo, NV – Crisis Management; Tina Kotek, OR – International Studies and Comparative Religion; Daniel McKee, RI – Public Administration; Tony Evers, WI – Educational Administration)
5 Masters in Business (MBA) (Ned Lamont, CT; Phil Murphy, NJ; Doug Burgum, ND; Glenn Youngkin, VA; Jim Justice, WV)
16 Law degree (JD)
Previous Elected Experience
The nation’s governors bring a variety of past professional experiences with them into the office. Many 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 2023 Governors’ Previous Experience Chart. Some governors are counted in more than one category, as they have served in more than one office.
12 in the lower chamber of their state government
12 in the upper chamber of their state government
10 in the United States House of Representatives
1 in the United States Senate (Ohio)
15 lieutenant governor*
8 state attorney general
3 state treasurer
2 state secretary of state
1 state Supreme Court Justice
*Note: Eric Holcomb (R-IN) was appointed lieutenant governor under then-Governor Mike Pence (R) when the previous lieutenant governor resigned to take another position. Holcomb was never elected to the position, instead running for governor in 2016 when Pence chose to run for Vice President of the United States rather than a second term as governor.
10 no prior elective office
2 of the 10 previously held non-elected government or political offices (Sarah Huckabee Sanders, R-AR (White House Press Secretary); Phil Murphy, D-NJ (U.S. Ambassador to Germany))
8 of the 10 did not hold a governmental or political office before becoming governor (J.B. Pritzker, D-IL; Wes Moore, D-MD; Scott Pillen, R-NE; Doug Burgum, R-ND; Kevin Stitt, R-OK; Bill Lee, R-TN; Glenn Youngkin, VA; Jim Justice, R-WV)*
*Note: Bevin previously ran for the U.S. Senate. Pritzker previously ran for the U.S. House of Representatives and founded Democratic Leadership for the 21st Century and was involved in Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign. Pillen was on the University of Nebraska Board of Regents.
Place of Birth
14 not born in the state they now lead
1 born outside the United States (Joe Lombardo, R-NV; born in Japan)
Looking Ahead to 2023
This year will be significantly less busy than last in terms of gubernatorial races. Only three states will hold races in 2023: Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (D) and Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves (R) will both run for reelection, while Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards (D) is term-limited.
The Eagleton Center on the American Governor will track all of the races, providing updates on our website and our Twitter account.