Advisory: WFU professor says governors perform well as president
November 15, 2007
The 2008 presidential campaign began with seven sitting or former governors vying for the presidency. Of those, three remain in the running: Republican former governors Mitt Romney (Mass.) and Mike Huckabee (Ark.) and current Democratic governor Bill Richardson (N.M.).
Jack D. Fleer, professor emeritus of political science at Wake Forest University, says that overall, governors rate fairly well when they win the presidency. In historical rankings of presidential performance, four of the ‘consensus’ top ten presidents include four former governors: Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Since 1789, governors have held the presidency nearly half the time; governors have won seven of the last eight presidential elections.
Fleer is watching the 2008 elections closely to see how Romney, Huckabee and Richardson fare in their race to the White House. His new book, “Governors Speak,” takes a close look at the evolving role of governors and examines both those who succeed and those who do less well in that office.
Fleer says governors have some key advantages in presidential campaigns. “They have executive experience in large administrative bureaucracies, as well as experience as political party and public leaders. They have participated in major public policy debates. They may be seen as Washington ‘outsiders’ – which can be perceived as both an asset and a liability – and, unlike U.S. senators seeking the presidency, do not have the voting records on public issues that can be scrutinized for land mines.”