New Jersey Governors
Governor Christine Todd Whitman Archive
Christine Todd Whitman, the 50th Governor of the State of New Jersey and its first woman governor, defeating incumbent Governor Jim Florio in November 1993 by a 1% margin, or 26,093 votes, . Inaugurated on January 18, 1994, she was re-elected in 1997, then resigned in 2001 to become administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in President George W. Bush’s administration.
Governor Christine Todd Whitman Archive
The Governor Christine Todd Whitman Archive, launched in 2012, features photographs, major speeches, analysis and information from and about the Whitman administration as well as newly generated retrospective interviews, forums and analysis. The Center on the American Governor welcomes donations, suggestions, and corrections to make this archive as accurate, informative and useful as possible.
Christine Todd Whitman was born in New York in 1946 into a distinguished political family. She spent most of her childhood at the family farm, Pontefract, in Oldwick, New Jersey. Graduating from Wheaton College in 1968, she worked on Nelson Rockefeller’s presidential campaign. In subsequent years she worked for Donald Rumsfeld at the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity and for the Republican National Committee. In 1974, she married John Whitman, the scion of another prominent political family. In 1982 she was elected freeholder in Somerset County where she served for two terms, the last as freeholder director. She resigned in 1988 to accept an appointment to Governor Kean’s cabinet as Chair of the Board of Public Utilities. She left in 1990 to run for the U.S. Senate challenging popular Democratic incumbent Bill Bradley. Despite Bradley’s $12million war chest, Whitman came within 3 points of defeating him, thus positioning her to run for governor in 1993.
Whitman was elected governor on November 3, 1993 by a 1% margin or 26,093 votes, defeating incumbent Governor James J. Florio. Inaugurated on January 18, 1994, she resigned on January 31, 2001 to become Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency in President George W. Bush’s administration. She was succeeded by Donald DiFrancesco, who was serving as President of the New Jersey Senate.
Click here for Governor Whitman’s full biography.
Cabinet and Staff
The first woman elected as governor of New Jersey, Governor Whitman also brought a significant amount of gender diversity to her cabinet and staff. As she said in a Center on the American Governor interview, “The other thing was appointing women to positions that had traditionally been held by men—the first gubernatorial chief of staff, the first woman as an attorney general, the first woman as a chief justice, and to a host of other positions that’d traditionally been held by men. And what I would find is when we had an opening the first list that I got back from the appointments office almost always was predominantly white males. And I would send it back and say, ‘I want a bigger group from which to choose’ and then I’d get a much more diverse group. It wasn’t because they were trying to have white males. And they got it over it pretty quickly and many of them were women in that office so that helped. It was just a question of not reaching out telling people, particularly minorities, that hey, we are interested in you and you can have a role here. And I sometimes went back to the original list and picked from that original list. I always said, ‘Look. It’s not that I’m not going to appoint from that. I just want more choice and more people from which to choose–a bigger list from which to choose.’ But appointing women to those positions again raised the visibility of women, let other women see that women can do this– let men and women see that women can do these jobs and brought the kind of diversity I like to see in the office.”
Governor Whitman’s Staff
Chief of Staff
Judy Shaw (1994-1995)
Peter Verniero (1995-1996)
Harriet Derman (1996-1997)
Michael Torpey (1997-2000)
Chief of Policy and Planning
Jane Kenny (1994-1996)
Eileen McGinnis (1996-2001)
Peter Verniero (1994-1995)
Margaret Foti (1995-1996)
Harriet Derman (1996)
Michael Torpey (1996-1997)
John Farmer, Jr. (1997-1999)
Richard Mroz (1999-2001)
Director of Communications
Carl Golden (1994-1996)
Becky Taylor (1996)
Peter McDonough (1996-2001)
Continue to a full list of Governor Whitman’s Cabinet and Staff
State Legislature During the Whitman Administration
During the second two years (1992-1993) of the Florio administration, New Jersey Republicans held veto-proof majorities in both the state Senate and the Assembly. When Governor Christine Todd Whitman took over in January 1994, those majorities were no longer veto-proof, but they remained strong.
Democrats picked up three Senate seats in the 1993 elections, reducing the Republican majority from 27-13 to 24-16. That breakdown would hold throughout Whitman’s seven years in office.
The Assembly was somewhat less constant, but there, too, a Republican majority held for the entirety of the Whitman administration. Democrats picked up five Assembly seats in the 1993 election, reducing the Republican majority from 58-22 to 53-27 at the time of Governor Whitman’s inauguration. Democrats picked up further seats over the next seven years, but Republicans remained in the majority–by then 45-35–when the governor resigned.
Whitman’s relationship with the legislature was not always simple, especially at the beginning of her term. Unlike her two predecessors Governors Florio and Kean, however, Governor Whitman would not preside over a divided government at any point during her time as governor.
Click here for a list of all members of the New Jersey legislature during the years of the Whitman Administration.
State Supreme Court During the Whitman Administration
The New Jersey governor is able to nominate new members to the Supreme Court when openings occur through resignation, death, or retirement of sitting justices. Once confirmed by the Senate, appointed justices initially serve a seven-year term after which they can be nominated for tenure by the sitting governor and, if reconfirmed by the State Senate, remain on the court until they reach the mandatory retirement age of 70.
When Governor Whitman took office, all seven justices of the New Jersey Supreme Court were tenured. Six of the seven, however—Robert Clifford, Alan Handler, Stewart Pollock, Daniel O’Hern, Marie Garibaldi, and Chief Justice Robert Wilentz—either resigned or reached their mandatory retirement age during Whitman’s term. As a result, Governor Whitman replaced six of the seven justices on the New Jersey Supreme Court during her seven years in office. Only Gary Stein, who received his tenure re-appointment from Governor Jim Florio on January 11, 1992, remained on the court throughout Whitman’s entire term.
Two of Whitman’s court appointments were particularly notable. In 1994, Whitman appointed the first African-American to serve on the New Jersey Supreme Court when she nominated James Coleman as an Associate Justice. Two years later, upon the resignation (for health reasons) of Chief Justice Robert Wilentz, Whitman appointed Deborah Poritz as the next Chief Justice, making her the first woman to serve as Chief Justice in the state’s history. Whitman also appointed Virginia Long, Peter Verniero, Jaynee LaVecchia, and James Zazzali to the court during her gubernatorial term.
Governor Whitman's Executive Orders
During her seven years in office, Governor Whitman issued a total of 123 executive orders, an average of about 17.5 per year, encompassing a wide range of policy and administrative matters. Governor Whitman issued these orders at a slower rate than her two immediate predecessors, Governors Jim Florio and Thomas Kean, who each averaged over 28 executive orders per year. Recent governors have also used the executive order more frequently; Governors Jon Corzine and Chris Christie each issued more executive orders in their respective first terms than Governor Whitman did in her entire seven years. Of course, these numbers do not in any way quantify the relative import of actions implemented through individual or groups of these orders.
Click here for a list of all of Governor Whitman’s Executive Orders
The Eagleton Center on the American Governor has convened roundtable forum discussions on the following topics related to the Whitman Administration. Governor Whitman, members of her staff and cabinet, and other interested observers have participated in each event. The events were videotaped and are available in our Video Library.
- Opening Colloquium
- Forum on the Economic Policies of the Whitman Administration
- Forum on Health and Human Services Policies in the Whitman Administration
- Forum on Environmental Policies of the Whitman Administration
Additional information about Governor Whitman can be found at: