The Young Elected Leaders Project (YELP) studies and works with young people who run for public office. YELP research reveals that of the American governors currently serving, fifteen began their public careers as young elected leaders. The youngest was West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, who was first elected to his state’s legislature at the age of 20. The majority of those who started their careers at age 35 or under are white males. The average age of an American governor is 59.6.
Party Affiliation – Of the current 50 governors, 18 (36%) are Democrats, 31 (62%) are Republicans and 1 (2%) is an Independent. Of the 15 Governors who began as YELs, 7 (47%) are Republicans, 7 (47%) are Democrats and 1 (7%) is an Independent.
Gender – There are currently 2 female governors who took up public office while a YEL. They represent 4% of the total number of governors and 13% of the governors who began as YELs.
|U.S. Governor||State||Political Party||Current Age||First Elected Office||Age When First Elected Office|
|Bill Walker||Alaska||Independent||64||Valdez City Council||26|
|Jerry Brown||California||Democrat||77||Secretary of State of California||32|
|David Ige||Hawaii||Democrat||59||Hawaii House of Representatives||28|
|Butch Otter||Idaho||Republican||73||Idaho House of Representatives||30|
|Terry Branstad||Iowa||Republican||69||Iowa House of Representatives||26|
|Jay Nixon||Missouri||Democrat||60||Missouri State Senate||30|
|Brian Sandoval||Nevada||Democrat||52||Nevada State Assembly||31|
|Chris Christie||New Jersey||Republican||53||Morris County Board of Freeholders||32|
|Pat McCrory||North Carolina||Republican||59||Charlotte City Council||33|
|John Kasich||Ohio||Republican||63||Ohio State Senate||26|
|Kate Brown||Oregon||Democrat||55||Oregon House of Representatives||31|
|Nikki Haley||South Carolina||Republican||44||South Carolina House of Representatives||32|
|Peter Shumlin||Vermont||Democrat||59||Vermont House of Representatives||34|
|Earl Ray Tomblin||West Virginia||Democrat||63||West Virginia House of Delegates||22|
|Scott Walker||Wisconsin||Republican||48||Wisconin State Assembly||26|
About the Young Elected Leaders Project (YELP):
Originating in 2002 with funding from the Pew Charitable Trusts, the Young Elected Leaders Project studies and works with young people who run for public office. For this project, Eagleton established a database of young elected officials; conducted a survey of young elected leaders regarding their background and leadership experience; convened a conference of young leaders in May 2003; and issued a report entitled Political Generation Next: America’s Young Elected Leaders. Currently, YELP is led by Dr. Elizabeth Matto, assistant research professor and director of Eagleton’s Youth Political Participation Program, working with a team of undergraduate researchers.