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Swift Gains Attention in Governor's Office
Political Junkie
Send your questions about campaigns and elections.

By Ken Rudin
Special to washingtonpost.com
Friday, May 18, 2001

EDITOR'S NOTE: The two-week delay in the "Political Junkie" column was due to an e-mail server outage from April 22 - May 10. All e-mails sent during that time may not be retrievable. Please accept our apologies.

Question: In your March 16 column you answered my question about whether Massachusetts' Jane Swift (R), the nation's youngest governor, would be the first governor to give birth while in office. Would she also be the youngest female governor ever?
– Taylor Crouse, St. Joseph, Mo.

Until this year, the late Lurleen Wallace had been the nation's youngest female governor. (Collection of Ken Rudin)
Yes. Swift, at 36, is younger than the previous record-holder, the late Lurleen Wallace (D-Ala.). Wallace was 40 when she was inaugurated in 1967, taking over for her term-limited husband. Davy Jones of Nashville, Tenn., a regular reader of this column, has compiled a list of all the women who served as governors and their ages upon taking office, starting with the oldest:

Ruth Ann Minner (D-Del.), 66 years old when inaugurated in January, 2001;

Joan Finney (D-Kans.), 65 years, 11 months, January, 1991;

Rose Mofford (D-Ariz.), 65 years, 10 months, when she succeeded the ousted Gov. Evan Mecham (R) in April, 1988;

Dixy Lee Ray (D-Wash.), 62 years, 4 months, January, 1977;

Jane Dee Hull (R-Ariz.), 62 years, 1 month, when she succeeded the resigned Gov. Fife Symington (R) in September, 1997;

Kay Orr (R-Neb.), 58 years, January, 1987;

Vesta Roy (R-N.H.), 57 years, 9 months, when she succeeded the late Gov. Hugh Gallen (D) and served for just over a month beginning in December, 1982;

Judy Martz (R-Mont.), 57 years, 8 months, January, 2001;

Ann Richards (D-Texas), 57 years, 4 months, January, 1991;

Ella Grasso (D-Conn.), 55 years, 8 months, January, 1975;

Barbara Roberts (D-Ore.), 54 years, January, 1991;

Madeleine Kunin (D-Vt.), 51 years, 3 months, January, 1985;

Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), 49 years, 11 months, January, 1997;

Nancy Hollister (R-Ohio), 49 years, 7 months, 9 days, who served for just nine days when she succeeded Gov. George Voinovich (R), who resigned early to take a Senate seat, in December, 1998;

Miriam "Ma" Ferguson (D-Texas), 49 years, 7 months, 7 days, for her first term in January, 1925, and 57 years, 7 months, 4 days, for her second term in January, 1933;

Nellie Tayloe Ross (D-Wyo.), 48 years, 1 month, January, 1925;

Christine Todd Whitman (R-N.J.), 47 years, 3 months, January, 1994;

Martha Layne Collins (D-Ky.), 46 years, 1 month, January, 1983;

Lurleen Burns Wallace (D-Ala.), 40 years, 3 months, January, 1967, and ;

Jane Swift (R-Mass.), 36 years, 1 month, 17 days, when she succeeded Gov. Paul Cellucci (R), who resigned to become ambassador to Canada in April, 2001.

Hull succeeded to the Arizona governorship from her post as Secretary of State. (Collection of Ken Rudin)

Question: You noted in your April 13th column that when New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman (R) resigned to become EPA administrator, she was succeeded by state Senate President Donald DiFrancesco (R), as New Jersey does not have a lieutenant governor. Which other states do not have one? What are the roads to succession in those states?
– Harvey Hudson, Eden Prairie, Minn.

Answer: Seven states do not have a lieutenant governor: Arizona, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, West Virginia and Wyoming. An eighth, Tennessee, has its state Senate president serve as lieutenant governor, but it is not an elected post. Along with Tennessee, four other states -- Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey and West Virginia - fill a gubernatorial vacancy with the president of the state Senate. And in the other three states (Oregon, Wyoming and Arizona), the vacancy is filled by the secretary of state.

Several states have had varying degrees of interest in abolishing the post altogether, as the position is often powerless. In Massachusetts, for example, when John Kerry (D) resigned as lieutenant governor to become U.S. senator in 1985, the post remained vacant for two years, and few noticed. However, Jane Swift (R), the new governor, succeeded to the top because she happened to be lieutenant governor when incumbent Paul Cellucci left to become ambassador to Canada.

Question: Are there any restrictions that would prevent Bill Clinton from running for a certain office (Senate, House, governor, etc.)? Also, were he to win, would he be the only president to be elected to office after leaving the White House?
– Darrell Farr, Austin, Texas

Answer: Clinton could run for any federal office except for president, because of the 22nd Amendment. He also could run for any state or local office depending on individual local residency laws. But he would not be the first former president to win election to public office. Two years after his defeat for a second term, John Quincy Adams was elected as a member of the House from Massachusetts in 1830, serving until his death on Feb. 23, 1848. John Tyler of Virginia, who succeeded to the presidency in 1841 following the death of William Henry Harrison but who was unable to win the job for a full term in 1844, was elected to the Confederate Congress in 1861 but died before the Congress assembled. And Andrew Johnson, whose post-Lincoln presidency was met by impeachment and an unsuccessful White House bid of his own, was elected to the Senate from Tennessee in 1874 and served until his death on July 31, 1875.

Question: How many people submit correct answers to your ScuttleButton contest in a given week? If I come up with this information, it will greatly impress the woman I'm seeing.
– Dave Ignall, Alexandria, Va.

Answer: The numbers vary, but close to 25,000 people visit the contest each week, with about a thousand or so submitting the correct answers. That's a far cry from the first puzzle, which went up in January of 1998, and according to the posting at the time, 17 correct answers were received.

Meanwhile, the server problems that held up this column also affected ScuttleButton, and the response from distressed puzzle-addicts, who feared the features were gone, was tremendous. Andrea, Pat, Stephanie, Bonnie and Will of the Health Sciences Library at the Learning Resources Center at the University of Virginia wrote, "Our whole department is now insane because this week's puzzle remains unsolved. Please post the answer. WE NEED CLOSURE!!!"

More dramatic was this note from Ken Roll of Newton, N.C., who wrote, "Okay, your ScuttleButton puzzles have made a political 'junkie' out of me, too, but now, I'm going into withdrawals! My face is getting all pale and drawn, I'm feeling listless and shaky, and I think I'm starting to cramp a little. I've been having to do crosswords a lot in the past two days just to keep from going into DT's. But even living on the edge and doing them in ink is a poor substitute. Are you on vacation, sick, in jail, out of the country on a secret mission for the government, etc.? Did someone abscond with your button collection? Is the webmaster snoozing? Is he out of coffee and the Coke machine is empty? The anticipation of this next puzzle is killing me! How about providing said puzzle NOW so I won't lose any additional sleep?"

Well, the problems seem to have been solved. ScuttleButton and Political Junkie are back. And I hope you are too. Thanks to everyone for your concern and wonderful notes.

Got a question? Ask Ken Rudin: junkie@washingtonpost.com

Ken Rudin, political editor at National Public Radio, is also the creator of washingtonpost.com's ScuttleButton contest.

© Copyright 2001 Ken Rudin


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