Opinion: Governors: The Preferred Choice for President


Governors: The Preferred Choice for President

Jennifer Hutchinson

It looks like being a governor could get a candidate pretty far in the upcoming election. In the last 25 years or so, we have seen an increased preference for governors as presidential contenders. According to a the Pew Research Center in 2014 from the Washington Post, 44 percent of Americans would prefer a governor to run for president over a senator. In addition, a CNN Opinion Research poll from the Washington Post found that 65 percent of Americans thought governors had the right experience to be president. Why is this? There are a couple of key factors.

For starters, governors are seen as having more executive experience than senators — a quality closest to that of a president. Governor Rick Perry was quoted in November of 2014 on the topic by Bloomberg:  

“If you’re in the Senate or if you’re in the House, you can give a speech and then go home. Governors can’t,” he said. “We have to govern. And the president of the United States, historically, has had to operate that way, too; the ones that were successful.”

To that point, it can be noted that many felt President Barack Obama was an inexperienced senator when he took office and that his lack of leadership qualifications have resulted in his failed policies and declining approval ratings. This isn’t a bad strategy to emphasize Obama’s letdowns in office. It also hints at Hillary Clinton’s time in the Senate, indicating she is simply another Washington bureaucrat working for the system, and that she lacks executive experience to lead the country.

Another reason for the predilection in governors is that they are seen as anti-Washington. They are leaders who do their leading in their respective states, often characterizing themselves as fighting back against Washington. With such a distaste for the dysfunction in the nation’s capital nowadays, it can be difficult for senators to distance themselves from where they spend much of their time, and portray themselves as not just another cog in the bureaucratic system.

So far, however, all of the only declared candidates —Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio and Hillary Clinton — are all current or former senators. This could leave room for one potential candidate to have his shining moment as the first governor if he declares his official run in the race, Gov. John Kasich.

Kasich has had an excellent track record as a two-term governor of Ohio. He just recently announced the initiation of his national political committee, which is strongly looking into his chances of running. With the governor looking more likely than ever to get into the race, this could be his prime opportunity to show off his outstanding leadership skills and become the first governor to enter the race.

Jennifer Hutchinson is a sophomore political science major. Contact her at [email protected].