Numbers, Facts and Trends Shaping Your World

Ex-Governors Return to the Race

Three former governors are campaigning for their former posts this year, including former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles (D), elected to his limit of two consecutives terms in 1994 and 1998, former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman, who narrowly lost his race for a second term in 2002, and former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld (R) — seeking to become only the second man in U.S. history to govern two states with his bid for the governor’s mansion in his new home, New York. Sam Houston was the first, governing Tennessee from 1827 to 1829 and Texas from 1859 to 1861. Since 1977, 16 of 45 former state chief executives who attempted gubernatorial comebacks regained their seats, according to data from University of North Carolina political scientist Thad Beyle. The group includes former President Bill Clinton (D), who served as Arkansas governor from 1979 to 1981 and again from 1983 to 1992, and 1988 presidential candidate Michael Dukakis, who was governor of Massachusetts from 1975 to 1979 and again from 1983 to 1991. The most recent was Cecil Underwood, who was elected governor of West Virginia in 1996 after a 36-year hiatus. Two governors since 1970 have moved in and out of the governor’s mansion three times: New Mexico Gov. Bruce King (D), who served from 1971 to 1975, 1979 to 1983, and 1991 to 1995; and Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards (D), who served from 1972 to 1980, 1984 to 1988 and 1992 to 1996. Read More