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American Governors


yelp_largeAmerican Governors

The Young Elected Leaders Project (YELP) studies and works with young people who run for public office. YELP research reveals that of the American governors currently serving, fifteen began their public careers as young elected leaders. The youngest was West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, who was first elected to his state’s legislature at the age of 20. The majority of those who started their careers at age 35 or under are white males. The average age of an American governor is 59.6.

Party Affiliation – Of the current 50 governors, 18 (36%) are Democrats, 31 (62%) are Republicans and 1 (2%) is an Independent. Of the 15 Governors who began as YELs, 7 (47%) are Republicans, 7 (47%) are Democrats and 1 (7%) is an Independent.

Gender – There are currently 2 female governors who took up public office while a YEL. They represent 4% of the total number of governors and 13% of the governors who began as YELs.

U.S. Governor State Political Party Current Age First Elected Office Age When First Elected Office
Bill Walker Alaska Independent 64 Valdez City Council 26
Jerry Brown California Democrat 77 Secretary of State of California 32
David Ige Hawaii Democrat 59 Hawaii House of Representatives 28
Butch Otter Idaho Republican 73 Idaho House of Representatives 30
Terry Branstad Iowa Republican 69 Iowa House of Representatives 26
Jay Nixon Missouri Democrat 60 Missouri State Senate 30
Brian Sandoval Nevada Democrat 52 Nevada State Assembly 31
Chris Christie New Jersey Republican 53 Morris County Board of Freeholders 32
Pat McCrory North Carolina Republican 59 Charlotte City Council 33
John Kasich Ohio Republican 63 Ohio State Senate 26
Kate Brown Oregon Democrat 55 Oregon House of Representatives 31
Nikki Haley South Carolina Republican 44 South Carolina House of Representatives 32
Peter Shumlin Vermont Democrat 59 Vermont House of Representatives 34
Earl Ray Tomblin West Virginia Democrat 63 West Virginia House of Delegates 22
Scott Walker Wisconsin Republican 48 Wisconin State Assembly 26

About the Young Elected Leaders Project (YELP):
Originating in 2002 with funding from the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Young Elected Leaders Project studies and works with young people who run for public office. For this project, Eagleton established a database of young elected officials; conducted a survey of young elected leaders regarding their background and leadership experience; convened a conference of young leaders in May 2003; and issued a report entitled Political Generation Next: America’s Young Elected Leaders. Currently, YELP is led by Dr. Elizabeth Matto, assistant research professor and director of Eagleton’s Youth Political Participation Program, working with a team of undergraduate researchers.