Former jobs of the governor of every state
In 2018, 36 out of the nation’s 50 states held elections for governor, and 20 new governors took office in 2019 as the chief executives of their states.
But the gubernatorial elections were historic outside of the sheer number of referendums. A record-shattering 16 women were major party nominees for governor, nine of which were successful and are currently in office. The number of female governors is currently tied with the all-time high number in 2007. Several governors, including Maine’s Janet Mills, South Dakota’s Kristi Noem, and Iowa’s Kim Reynolds are the first women to be elected governors of their respective states.
The LGBTQ+ community also made historic strides in last year’s election. Colorado’s Jared Polis became the first openly gay male to be elected governor in the United States, and Oregon’s Kate Brown, who is bisexual, was reelected in her state.
All in all, Republicans picked up one gubernatorial seat in Alaska, while Democrats picked up Illinois, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, and Wisconsin.
The role of a governor is an important one to pay attention to when analyzing the future and current political landscape of a state. As the highest-ranking state official, a governor is responsible for signing bills into law, commanding the state’s National Guard, appointing figures to various roles, and calling special sessions of the state legislature.
While all 50 governors bring with them experiences from different walks of life, some share several commonalities. A total of nine current governors have served in the military, and 13 were at one point the lieutenant governor of their state. Nine governors previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives, while just one was a former U.S. senator.
Most of the current governors in the United States will be sticking around even after the 2019 election, too. Just Kentucky, Mississippi, and Louisia will hold gubernatorial elections this year, and in Kentucky and Louisiana, the incumbent governor is eligible for reelection.
Stacker analyzed the former roles every current governor had before taking office and found varying resumes, from positions as cabinet secretary to the CEO of an ice cream company. Read on to find out where each state governor developed and honed their leadership that propelled them to public office.
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Alabama: Kay Ivey (R)
Though Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey grew up working on her family’s farm, she became a high school teacher after graduating from Auburn University in 1967, and then became a bank officer before starting her career in politics. In 2002, she was elected to the position of state treasurer and successfully ran for lieutenant governor in 2010, where she was the first Republican woman to hold the role in the history of the state.
Alaska: Mike Dunleavy (R)
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy long dreamed of becoming a teacher, but after coming to Alaska in 1983, he first held a job at a logging camp in the southeastern region of the state. He then pursued his master’s degree in education at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, and spent about 20 years in northwest Alaska working first as a teacher, and then a principal and superintendent.
Arizona: Doug Ducey (R)
While Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey got his start in the workforce with a job at Procter & Gamble, he is better known for his time working at Cold Stone Creamery, where he became CEO and grew the chain to 1,440 locations worldwide. He and his business partners sold the beloved ice cream chain in 2007, and he went on to run for the position of Arizona state treasurer, which he won in 2010.
Arkansas: Asa Hutchinson (R)
Before Asa Hutchinson was governor of Arkansas, he practiced rural law in the state and was nominated by then-President Ronald Reagan to serve as a U.S. attorney for the Western District of Arkansas at the age of 31, making him the youngest U.S. attorney in the country. From 1997 to 2001, Hutchinson served as a member of Congress before President George W. Bush named him as the under secretary for border and transportation security at the Department of Homeland Security.
California: Gavin Newsom (D)
California Gov. Gavin Newsom originally jump-started his career investing in wineries, restaurants, and nightclubs. He entered the political universe in 1995, supporting Willie Brown’s campaign for mayor of San Francisco. He then spent six years on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and then rose to the position of mayor. In 2011, he became California’s lieutenant governor.
Colorado: Jared Polis (D)
As a college student, Jared Polis already had ambitious career goals, starting a company called American Information Systems out of his dorm room and going on to found ProFlowers. He also co-founded a startup program to mentor fellow entrepreneurs called Techstars, and Patriot Boot Camp, which assists veterans in piloting small businesses. Later, he started several public charter schools and served as the superintendent of the New America School, which caters to young immigrants.
Connecticut: Ned Lamont (D)
Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont founded telecommunications company Lamont Digital Systems, which operated the college campus television service Campus Televideo. While he sold the company before he ran for governor in 2018, it wasn’t his first foray into politics. In 1987, he served on the Greenwich Board of Selectmen and launched several unsuccessful political campaigns, including a run for state senate and the U.S. Senate.
Delaware: John Carney (D)
Before entering politics, Delaware Gov. John Carney coached football at the University of Delaware while earning his master’s degree in public administration. From there, he went on to serve as chairman of the Delaware Healthcare Commission and the Criminal Justice Council. Carney also served as lieutenant governor before he was elected to the House of Representatives, where he successfully introduced legislation to prevent shortages of prescription drugs.
Florida: Ron DeSantis (R)
After graduating from Harvard Law School, now-Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis served on the Navy SEAL Team One in Iraq, where he earned a bronze medal of honor for his service. He then put his law degree to use as a U.S. attorney for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Middle District of Florida before running for Congress. While in the House of Representatives, DeSantis chaired a congressional subcommittee on national security.
Georgia: Brian Kemp (R)
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp owns a small real estate investment and property management business called Kemp Properties, and he was previously the president of the Athens Area Home Builders Association. From 2003 to 2007, he served as a state senator and ran to be state agriculture commissioner in 2006 but lost the primary election. He served as the secretary of state of Georgia from 2010 to 2018, when he won the gubernatorial election.2018 All rights reserved.