Governors Eye Oval Office: Will 2028 Be Their Year?

It’s been two decades since America picked a former governor as its commander-in-chief. And it looks like that trend will continue for a good while longer, possibly until 2028. The National Governors Association winter meetings are just around the corner, and it’s likely that some of the state-level execs attending have their sights set on the presidency.

Between 1977 and 2009, four out of five presidents had governor experience, but that trend has taken a back seat with the recent Oval Office occupants. As the political landscape continues to shift, Democratic strategist Tom Cochran notes that the value of governors as potential presidents has waned. With former senator Barack Obama, business magnate Donald Trump, and former senator and Vice President Joe Biden taking the reins, the spotlight is less on state execs.

For any governor eyeing the presidency, they’ll likely have to bide their time, as Trump and Biden are primed to grab the major party nominations again this year. Governor Gavin Newsom of California has been making waves on the national stage, but besides him, Democratic governors haven’t posed a significant threat in the presidential race.

In comparison, Republicans have a friendlier stance towards governors. Renowned presidential historian Craig Shirley emphasizes the executive experience governors bring to the table, musing that better execs make better presidents. This sentiment aligns with the conservative philosophy, which favors decision-making abilities over legislative committee approaches.

With Trump’s contenders for the GOP nomination including former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley and the erstwhile Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, the preference for governors seems to hold strong within the party. And although it appears that Trump has a firm hold on the GOP for now, the conservative camp is optimistic that the pendulum will swing back in favor of governors in the future.

Looking further into the past, it’s evident that governors didn’t always dominate presidential elections as they did from the late 1970s through the late 2000s. Interestingly, from the end of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency in 1945 to Jimmy Carter’s inauguration in 1977, not a single president had gubernatorial experience.

As the NGA’s winter meetings approach, there’s excitement in the air as Supreme Court Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Amy Coney Barrett are set to share their viewpoints on engaging in civil discourse during a session hosted by Governor Spencer Cox of Utah. Additionally, appearances by Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, entrepreneur Marc Andreessen, and pollster Frank Luntz are slated for the meetings.

The governors’ visit to Washington will culminate with a glamorous gathering at the White House with President Biden, offering the possibility of a future commander-in-chief emerging from their ranks.

Written by Staff Reports

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