Out of the 36 gubernatorial elections last November, 26 resulted in the return of an incumbent while only one, Nevada’s Steve Sisolak, lost. That left nine new governors taking office, not an earthshaking number, but enough to make us curious about the demographic shifts in the new cadre. Our efforts turned up some interesting facts that we wanted to share.
Perhaps most intriguing, the new group is dramatically younger than the governors they’re replacing. This is probably inevitable for all elections, as older officials are term-limited or choose not to run for re-election and are often replaced by younger ones. But the change has been somewhat more extreme among the eight new governors who were elected in November than we would have anticipated based on past experience.
In fact, the average ate of newly elected leaders in Arkansas, Arizona, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Nevada, Oregon and Pennsylvania is 52, as of today’s date, as opposed to 65 for those who are leaving office. To put this another way, only one of the new governors would qualify for Medicare, compared to 5 of the 8 who are now departing.
Four of the nine new governors were born in the 1970s and one in the 1980s. The youngest -- and the only one of the 50 to be born in the 1980s -- is Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who takes over the top spot in Arkansas from 72-year-old Asa Hutchinson. Sanders, who was President Donald Trump's press secretary from 2017 to 2019, is 40 years old. The second youngest governor in 2023 will be Wes Moore, age 44, who will take over the top spot in Maryland from 66-year-old Larry Hogan on January 18.
As a result, the generational shift is dramatic. All of the nine governors being replaced are Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964). But six of the new ones belong to Gen X (born 1965-1980) and one is a millennial (1981-1996)
There’s more. The new governors represent a more diverse group than their predecessors. four of the nine are women, compared with one of the outgoing state leaders. Two of the four – Maura Healey of Massachusetts and Tina Kotek of Oregon lead openly lesbian lifestyles. Wes Moore will become the first Black governor of Maryland and the third ever elected in the United States. (The other two were from Virginia and Massachusetts).
Of the nine newly elected governors, two are doctors– Josh Green of Hawaii, and Nebraska’s Jim Pillen (who is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine). And two are lawyers, Joshua Shapiro of Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts’s Maura Healey, both of whom were their states’ attorneys general prior to becoming governors.
Four of the others have master’s degrees, with one in crisis management (Nevada's Joe Lombardo), one in social work (Arizona’s Katie Hobbs), one in international relations (Wes Moore), and one in international relations and comparative religions (Maura Healey). Sarah Sanders has a Bachelor of Arts degree, with a major in political science.
For the record, the nine new governors, who will soon be added to our website feature “Guide to the Govs” after they’ve all been inaugurated on January 18, are:
Arizona: Katie Hobbs (D), replacing Doug Ducey (R)
Arkansas: Sarah Huckabee Sanders (R), replacing Asa Hutchinson (R)
Hawaii: Josh Green (D), replacing David Ige (D)
Maryland: Wes Moore (D), replacing Larry Hogan (R)
Massachusetts: Maura Healey (D), replacing Charlie Baker (R)
Nebraska: Jim Pillen (R), replacing Pete Ricketts (R)
Nevada: Joe Lombardo (R), replacing Steve Sisolak (D)
Oregon: Tina Kotek (D), replacing Kate Brown (D)
Pennsylvania: Joshua Shapiro (D), replacing Tom Wolf (D)
NOTE: This column has been revised to include Arkansas Governor Sanders, who was inadvertently left out when it was first published on January 5.
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