Fast Facts About America’s Governors

 

Overview

There were only two gubernatorial races in 2021, though California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) also faced a recall election. Newsom won that recall vote and remained governor of California. He will run for re-election to a second term in 2022.

In the more traditional races, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) held off a challenge from former Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli (R) to win a second term as governor. In Virginia, where governors cannot run for consecutive terms, businessman Glenn Youngkin (R) defeated former Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe (D, 2014-2018). Youngkin takes over for Governor Ralph Northam (D), therefore Virginia represents a “pickup” for the Republicans.

With that lone pickup, Republicans now hold 28 of the nation’s governorships, with Democrats holding 22.

Below are some fast facts about the nation’s 50 governors.

 

Party

28 Republicans
22 Democrats

The Republican Party picked up one seat in the 2021 elections, in Virginia. There are currently no Independent or third party governors in the U.S.

 

 

Partisan Control of Government

State Legislature
Governor      Democratic   Republican    Divided Total
  Democratic   14   7 1 22
Republican     3 22 2**   27*
Total:   18 29 2**   49*
  * Nebraska has a unicameral, 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

 

Gender

As of September 2021, following the resignation of Governor Gina Raimondo (RI) to become U.S. Secretary of Commerce and Kathy Hochul taking over as governor of New York, nine of the nation’s governors are women: Kay Ivey (AL); Kim Reynolds (IA); Laura Kelly (KS); Janet Mills (ME); Gretchen Whitmer (MI); Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM); Kathy Hochul (NY); Kate Brown (OR); and Kristi Noem (SD). Three of these women (Ivey, Reynolds, and Noem) are Republicans and six (Kelly, Mills, Whitmer, Grisham, Hochul, and Brown) are Democrats. Nine matches a record for women serving as U.S. governor concurrently. 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.

 

 

Race

Forty-seven of the nation’s governors are non-Hispanic white.* Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) is Hispanic and David Ige (D-HI) is Asian. Kevin Stitt (R-OK) is a member of the Cherokee Nation.

*Note: Governor Chris Sununu’s (R-NH) 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. 

 

 

Religion

16 Catholic
9 No religion listed*
8 Christian
5 Protestant
2 Presbyterian
3 Methodist
1 Baptist
1 Buddhist
1 Episcopalian
1 Evangelical
1 Jewish
1 Lutheran
1 Mormon

*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.

 

Military Service

Seven governors have served in the Armed Forces.

43 No military service
3 Army (John Bel Edwards, LA; Mike Parson, MO; Henry McMaster, SC (Army Reserve))
1 National Guard (Tim Walz, MN)
2 Navy (Ron DeSantis, FL; Eric Holcomb, IN)

 

Age

(age at most recent inauguration/swearing in)

Average: 58.7

Youngest (current age): 40 (Ron DeSantis, R-FL; born on September 14, 1978)

Oldest (current age): 74 (Kay Ivey, R-AL; born on October 15, 1944)

 

 

Marital Status

46 currently married
4 not currently married

 

 

Children

2 have no children
1 has 1 child
18 have 2 children
17 have 3 children
8 have 4 children
2 have 5 children
1 has 6 children
1 has 8 children

Average 2.9 children

 

 

Education

33 advanced degree
49 Bachelors degree
1 Attended college but did not receive degree (Mike Parson, MO)

2 Doctorate (Ph.D.) (Tom Wolf, PA – Political Science; Tony Evers, WI – Educational Administration)

8 Masters degree (MA/MS) (Mike Dunleavey, AK – Education; John Carney, DE – Public Administration; Laura Kelly, KS – Therapeutic Recreation; Tim Walz, MN – Education; Greg Gianforte, MT – Computer Science; Tom Wolf, PA – Philosophy; Daniel McKee, RI – Public Administration; Tony Evers, WI – Educational Administration)

9 Masters in Business (MBA) (Ned Lamont, CT; David Ige, HI; Charlie Baker, MA; Pete Ricketts, NE Steve Sisolak, NV; Phil Murphy, NJ; Doug Burgum, ND; Glenn Youngkin, VA; Jim Justice, WV)

15 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 2022 Governors’ Previous Experience Chart. Some governors are counted in more than one category, as they have served in more than one office.

10 in the lower chamber of their state government
12 in the upper chamber of their state government
11 in the United States House of Representatives
1 in the United States Senate (Ohio)

14 lieutenant governor*
6 state attorney general
4 state treasurer
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.

11 no prior elective office

4 of the 11 previously held non-elected government or political offices (Larry Hogan, R-MD (Secretary of Appointments); Charlie Baker, R-MA (state Secretary of Health and Human Services); Phil Murphy, D-NJ (U.S. Ambassador to Germany); Tom Wolf, D-PA (Secretary of Revenue))

7 of the 11 did not hold a governmental or political office before becoming governor (J.B. Pritzker, D-IL; Pete Ricketts, R-NE; Doug Burgum, R-ND; Kevin Stitt, R-OK; Bill Lee, R-TN; Glenn Youngkin, VA; Jim Justice, R-WV)*

*Note: Ricketts and 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.

 

 

Place of Birth

13 not born in the state they now lead
1 born outside the United States (Kate Brown, D-OR; born in Spain)

 

 

Looking Ahead in 2022

This will be a busy election year, including at the gubernatorial level. Thirty-six states hold gubernatorial elections in 2022: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Sixteen of the races will take place in states with Democratic governors while 20 will take place in states where Republicans currently hold the seat. The Eagleton Center on the American Governor will track all of the races, providing updates on our website and our Twitter account.