In his introduction to the 1978 edition of the Biographical Directory of the Governors of the United States, 1789-1978, ProfessorJames Shenton of Columbia University observed that "the opportunities to make a statewide mark have often made the governorship a stepping stone to the presidency." The election of former California Governor Ronald Reagan to the American presidency in 1980 serves to reinforce Shenton's contention that gubernatorial experience remains a crucial factor in developing political leadership on a national scale. Indeed, both the Reagan administration and the Carter presidency which preceded it offer strong evidence that policies first implemented on a state level frequently come to have major implications for the nation.
This sequel to Meckler Publishing's earlier four-volume set, which provided biographical data on America's chief executives up to 1978, covers the 87 individuals who served between January 1978 and January 1983. Although this has resulted in a certain amount of overlap with the earlier volumes, it permits a bit more detail and perspective on gubernatorial administrations which in 1978 were too recent to reveal significant trends and issues. Our wish to include meaningful facts on a governor's tenure has also led us to exclude all new chief executives who took office after early 1983. These governors, who are listed in the Appendix to this volume, will appear in Meckler Publishing's next five-year sequel, scheduled to appear in 1989.
Our cohort of 87 chief executives includes three women (Grasso of Connecticut, Ray of Washington, and Roy of New Hampshire). Of the three, only Vesta Roy, who served as acting governor of New Hampshire for eight days following Hugh Gallen's death, actually assumed office between January 1978 and January 1983. Still, while there is little reason to expect that women will easily achieve parity in gubernatorial politics, it is perhaps revealing that Martha Layne Collins won the Kentucky governorship in November 1983 at the expense of James Bunning, a former major league baseball pitcher. Had Bunning won that election, he would have repeated the success of no fewer than three governors elected in 1978 with a background that included professional sports (James of Alabama, Hughes of Maryland, and King of Massachusetts)! Readers of this work will no doubt discover other tantalizing facts, and it is our hope that this information will be of some value to observers of American political life.
The dedicated research efforts of the seven scholars mentioned below have made the present volume possible, and each essay concludes with the initials of the appropriate author. I would particularly like to thank John Healy and Marie Marmo Mullaney, who together contributed most of the sketches. The research . . .