New Governors

Profiles of Non-Incumbent Winners

Profiles by Washington Post Staff Writers
November 4, 2004

Matt Blunt (R-Mo.) | Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. (R-Ind.) | Jon Huntsman Jr. (R-Utah) | John Lynch (D-N.H.) | Joe Manchin III (D-W. Va.) | Brian Schweitzer (D-Mont.)

Note: Washington Governor's Race Still Too Close to Call

More Profiles: New Senators | New Representatives

Missouri -- Matt Blunt (R)

Just shy of his 34th birthday, Matt Blunt (R) is one of the youngest governors in the nation. But he's no political neophyte. His father, who lost a bid for governor 12 years ago, is House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and his grandfather served in Congress.

Capitalizing on rural support, Blunt defeated State Auditor Claire McCaskill, who had blown open the governor's race by ousting incumbent Bob Holden in a bitter Democratic primary. McCaskill ran on experience; Blunt ran on social values, emphasizing his opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion. Asked to identify three advisers, he named his wife, his mother and God.

A U.S. Naval Academy graduate, Blunt enters the governor's mansion just four years after becoming Missouri's secretary of state and six years after leaving the Navy. He promised to consult the Pentagon about whether, as governor, he could remain in the Naval Reserve, where he is eligible to be called to active duty.

More on Blunt | Election Results

Indiana -- Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. (R)

As President Bush's first budget director, Mitchell E. Daniels Jr. was known as "the Blade." He sliced through the Democratic lock on Indiana's governorship by promising to revive the state's economy and deal with its $830 million deficit.

Daniels, 55, served as President Ronald Reagan's political director and was an aide to Sen. Richard G. Lugar (R-Ind.). He left a top job at Eli Lilly and Co. to take the White House budget post in 2001.

Daniels stepped down in June 2003 to begin campaigning. He made a 16-month tour of Indiana that focused on small towns. The loss of thousands of manufacturing jobs and a pair of mini-scandals surrounding the Department of Motor Vehicles and state pensions bolstered his claim that, after 16 years of Democratic rule of the State House, it was time for a "new crew."

The incumbent governor, Joseph E. Kernan, assumed office last year after the death of his predecessor. Kernan remains personally popular, but Bush's strong support sharpened Daniels's edge.

More on Daniels | Election Results

Utah -- Jon Huntsman Jr. (R)

Jon Huntsman Jr., 44, a former U.S. ambassador to Singapore who runs his family's $10 billion holding company, won the gubernatorial race in Utah by defeating Democrat Scott M. Matheson Jr., a Utah law school dean.

Huntsman's father, Jon Huntsman Sr., built the family business into one of the nation's leading chemical firms, which gained fame for inventing the clamshell container for the Big Mac. The son dropped out of high school in his senior year to play keyboard in rock-and-roll bands before graduating and going to college. He also became a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) in Taiwan, where he became fluent in Mandarin Chinese.

He later became friendly with Sen. Jake Garn (R-Utah) and soon worked as ambassador to Singapore and as a deputy U.S. trade representative to Asia and Africa.

Recently, Huntsman served as chairman and chief executive of Huntsman Corp., which employs 15,000 people.

More on Huntsman | Election Results

New Hampshire-- John Lynch (R)

Democrat John Lynch, 51, won the governorship of New Hampshire in his first campaign for office. While new to elective office, Lynch has years of experience in the state's politics. In the 1970s, he interned on the staff of then-Sen. Thomas J. McIntyre (D-N.H.) and later was executive director of the state's Democratic Party.

A graduate of Georgetown University Law Center, Lynch attended Harvard Business School and eventually served as the school's admissions director. He went on to become president and chief executive of Knoll Inc., a Pennsylvania-based furniture maker. He resigned as chairman of the University of New Hampshire Board of Trustees to run for governor.

He ran an aggressive campaign against the incumbent, Gov. Craig Benson (R), whose term was marked by controversy with the Republican legislature and tainted by scandal when some senior appointees stepped down amid charges of ethical misconduct. Lynch pledged to "restore" integrity and trust to state government.

More on Lynch | Election Results

West Virginia -- Joe Manchin III (D)

With a family history of public service -- his late uncle was a West Virginia lawmaker, treasurer and secretary of state -- and a personal history as a successful entrepreneur, Joe Manchin III, 57, has proven to be a natural-born politician. His ascension to the governorship caps a 20-year climb through the electoral ranks, with stops in both chambers of the state legislature, a failed bid for governor in 1996, when he lost in a primary, and a stint as secretary of state starting in 2001.

As a child, Manchin sold raft rides down Buffalo Creek near his hometown of Farmington (population 357), where he grew up sharing a bedroom with four siblings. Later, he worked in his father's furniture outlet, ran a chain of retail stores, and helped run a coal and natural resources enterprise.

With long-standing support from business and more recent backing from labor, Manchin has promised to use his skills to sell West Virginia as a good place to work, live and play.

More on Manchin | Election Results

Montana -- Brian Schweitzer (D)

Democrat Brian Schweitzer will take office as Montana's new governor in January having never before served in public office. His family has raised grain, hay and cattle on a farm near Whitefish for three generations, and he spent much of his campaign talking to voters about his experience as a businessman and farmer.

Schweitzer, 49, made the unconventional decision of asking a Republican, state Sen. John Bohlinger, to run with him as lieutenant governor. Their campaign featured television ads of the two together, explaining how their experience working the land and running businesses would help Montana.

Education has been one of Schweitzer's major themes. He says the state -- which is running a surplus -- needs to invest more in community colleges and technical schools to connect young people with better-paying jobs. He also campaigned on a plan to require that state utilities draw at least 10 percent of their electricity from wind power by 2010.

More on Schweitzer | Election Results

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