Introduction to Governors

Introduction to the Study of Governors

A good introduction to the varying roles, powers and functions of the office of governor in the 50 states is provided by the opening two chapters of the book, The Executive Branch of State Government: People, Process and Politics edited by Margaret R. Ferguson. The Center on the American Governor is grateful for Dr. Ferguson's and the publisher’s permission to reproduce them here.

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Fast Facts About America's Governors

Demographic information on the current sitting governors of all 50 U.S. states. Includes party, gender, and race breakdown as well as other demographic information such as age and previous elected experience.

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Eagleton Center on the American Governor Report on Gubernatorial Transitions

In 2017, the Eagleton Center on the American Governor released a report providing recommendations for gubernatorial transitions. The entire report, in PDF form, is available here.

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Research, History, and Analysis

Governors and the White House

Of the 78 Americans who have served as President, Vice President or both since the nation was formed, 27 (or just over one-third) had been governor of a state. Find out more about which governors have run for president, which have been most successful, and whether the trend may be changing.

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Governors and the Redistricting Process

With the 2020 U.S. Census already underway, the important process of drawing of new districts both at the state legislative and federal congressional levels will begin. This section, researched by a Rutgers undergraduate student, examines the role of each state's governor in the process.

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2021 Gubernatorial Elections

Only two states--New Jersey and Virginia--will hold gubernatorial elections in 2021. Learn more about the races, the candidates, and the key dates in this section.

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Governors and the Vice Presidency

From John Adams (who took office with George Washington in 1789) through Mike Pence, elected with Donald Trump in 2016, the United States has had 48 vice presidents. Sixteen of them (33%) were previously governors. Learn the history of governors as presidential running mates.

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When Governors Seek Re-election (1980-2013)

An Eagleton Center on the American Governor study on reelection rates of incumbent governors seeking multiple terms in office. Data is broken down by state, region, and decade, among other categories.

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Recalling Governors

In 2012, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker was the third governor in U.S. history to face a recall election and the first to emerge victorious. Nineteen states allow voters to recall governors by election. Learn which states and how the process works.

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Governors and the Presidential Cabinet

When former governors are unable to advance to the presidency or vice presidency, they may turn their attention to federal cabinet positions. The Eagleton Center on the American in Governor studied that possibility in 2016, focusing on the Eisenhower through the Obama administrations. The study includes names and statistics of governors in presidential candidates during that time period.

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Dealing With Crisis: Gubernatorial Advice

Disasters and crises are almost always unexpected, yet the more governors can be prepared for them, the better off their state will be. In addition to the many New Jersey governors who have provided advice on dealing with crisis in Eagleton Center on the American Governor interviews over the years, we have collected recommendations from several governors from other states, which we highlight here.

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The Lighter Side

Gubernatorial Did You Know?

This section is a home for unusual and interesting facts about American governors past and present. It includes a look at gubernatorial families, governors as university presidents, governing more than one state, and odd tales of gubernatorial succession.

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The Music Governors Create and Inspire

This report, written by Eagleton Center on the American Governor Director John Weingart is a stop at the intersection between music and governors, both songs written about governors as well as music some governors wrote or performed themselves. The 34-page PDF is full searchable and includes discussion of music by and/or about over 30 U.S. governors.

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Other Resources

Inventory of State Gubernatorial Archives

A preliminary inventory of national and regional gubernatorial archives and a state-by-state index of gubernatorial archives in the 50 states. This index is arranged alphabetically across three internet pages.

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Bibliography of Books By and About Governors

This section includes a general bibliography of books by and about governors and the office of the governor, organized by category. A state-by-state bibliography of books by and about governors of particular states is also available.

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