In 2018, 36 out of the nation’s 50 states held elections for governor. A record-shattering 16 women were major party nominees the position, nine of whom were successful, making the current number of female governors tied with the all-time high number set in 2004. The LGBTQ+ community also made historic strides, as Colorado’s Jared Polis became the first openly gay man to be elected governor in the United States, and Oregon’s Kate Brown, who is bisexual, was reelected in her state.
Fast forward to the 2022 elections, and 36 states will once again elect—or reelect— their governors. But who are these powerful politicians, and what were they doing before they took their states’ reigns?
Stacker analyzed the former roles every current governor had before taking office and found varying resumes, from positions as cabinet secretaries to the CEO of an ice cream company. Read on to find out where your state’s governor developed and honed the leadership skills that propelled them to public office or check out the national story here.
Mike Parson (R-Missouri)
Missouri Gov. Mike Parson was raised on a farm, and remains a farmer today, operating a cow and calf farm in Bolivar. Parson is also a small business owner, a veteran of the U.S. Army, and the former sheriff of Polk County. He began his political career in the Missouri General Assembly and went on to serve as the state’s 47th lieutenant governor.
While all 50 governors bring with them experiences from different walks of life, some share several commonalities. A total of four current governors have served in the military, and 15 were at one point the lieutenant governor of their states. Eleven governors previously served in the U.S. House of Representatives, while just one was a former U.S. senator.
Keep reading below to see the former jobs of governors of other states in your region.
Before Asa Hutchinson was governor of Arkansas, he practiced law in the state. He was nominated by then-President Ronald Reagan to serve as a U.S. attorney for the Western District of Arkansas at the age of 31, making him the youngest U.S. Attorney in the country. From 1997 to 2001, Hutchinson served as a member of Congress before President George W. Bush named him director of the Drug Enforcement Administration, and eventually the undersecretary for border and transportation security at the Department of Homeland Security.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker was a leader in the creation and construction of the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center as a descendant of Jewish refugees from Europe. Before being elected governor, Pritzker also founded an organization called 1871, a small business incubator that fosters the growth of entrepreneurs and their various ventures. In 2014, he organized the White House Summit on Early Childhood Education.